Soldier who nursed meningitis-struck daughter is jailed for going AWOL


A courageous Army medic was demoted and jailed after being posted AWOL while he kept a round the clock vigil at his seriously-ill new born baby daughter’s hospital bedside.

Acting Corporal Ben Peters, 28, of the 2nd Medical Regiment, returned to the UK to be with family after his five-week old daughter Alana contracted deadly viral meningitis.

But despite keeping the military informed, Ben was arrested on his return to his German base, demoted and given 30 days military detention and docked two months wages.

Ben’s devastated wife Charlie, 27, said: ”All he tried to do was be there for his family and he has been severely punished for it.

”They let you fight for your country but you’re not allowed to fight for your family.”

Ben, an Army medic for five years, had served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Belize – where he was recommended for a commendation in 2007 – after pulling casualties out of the jungle.

But he took approved leave in April when Charlie began to suffer from severe sciatica towards the end of her pregnancy.

Ben then took agreed two week paternity leave when Alana was born in May only to be posted AWOL when he failed to return to Germany after she contracted meningitis.

Charlie added: ”We were told to expect the worst.

”We were told there was a one in ten chance Alana wouldn’t make it and she was only five-weeks-old, but all the time Ben’s mum kept the Army up-to-date.”

The Army granted Ben compassionate leave while Alana was in hospital and although the family feared the worst, she pulled through and was discharged after six days.

The devoted dad spent hours at Alana’s hospital bedside, as he and Charlie worked in shifts to watch over their sick daughter and care for their eldest Alexa, aged three.

Ben then asked for a few more days off to ensure he could attend Alana’s follow-up appointments when she came out of hospital, but this was refused.

He was again posted AWOL and arrested days later when he returned to the base.

A military hearing in Germany found Ben guilty of going AWOL and sentenced him to 30 days at the correction centre in Colchester, docked his wages and demoted him to the rank of private.

The ordeal has left the couple having to take out a bank loan to pay for bills and food.

Charlie, a retail supervisor, added: ”I was under the impression that as the wife of a soldier with children the Army would look after me and care for me.

”I have had several conversations with them in which I stressed our financial situation, but I don’t feel I have seen any evidence at all of support towards me and my children.

”The very serious events that have happened don’t seem to have any relevance to them.

”I’m really quite disgusted and upset about the way it has affected us as a family and it has affected our marriage.”

Ben is now back at his base in Germany but despite being he would be given a compassionate posting to the UK – is still waiting.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman yesterday refused to comment on individual cases but confirmed that all formal complaints were ”fully investigated”.


  1. The most common symptom of true sciatica is posterior thigh, lower leg or foot pain that can be much worse than the accompanying lower back pain.

  2. It is possible that persons may require prescription medications or have to undergo physical therapy in order to control sciatica’s painful effects. Surgery or injection therapy may be necessary in some cases. Magnetic Resonance neurography (MRN) is capable of generating a detailed image of virtually any nerve in the body. MRN can accurately image the sciatic nerve, and also shows that medical experts can diagnose and treat sciatic pain that is not caused by a herniated or damaged disc.


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