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Shot at dawn.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Sep 2006 20:27    Onderwerp: 1000 militairen Brits leger gedeserteerd. Reageer met quote

1000 militairen Brits leger gedeserteerd

Ruim duizend Britse militairen zijn sinds het begin van de Iraakse oorlog gedeserteerd. Dit heeft de BBC gisteren gemeld. Volgens de omroep is het aantal afwezige militairen dat ook na langere tijd niet meer opduikt gestaag gegroeid, van 86 in 2001 tot 377 in 2005.
Volgens het ministerie van Defensie is het te vroeg al deze afwezigen als deserteurs aan te merken voordat dat door een militaire rechtbank is vastgesteld. In 1989 werd voor het laatst iemand schuldig bevonden aan desertie.
Een woordvoerster van het ministerie wijst erop dat het aantal vermiste militairen, dat zonder toestemming verlof neemt, door de jaren heen min of meer constant is, gemiddeld bijna 3.000 per jaar. De meesten duiken na enige tijd weer op. Vaak gaat het om militairen die wegens familie-omstandigheden of problemen met hun vriendin
langer wegblijven dan is toegestaan.
John McDonnell, een Lagerhuislid van Labour dat zich met de kwestie bezighoudt, gaat er eveneens van uit dat het aantal militairen dat niet meer terugkeert is verdrievoudigd. Volgens de parlementariër komt dat onder meer doordat steeds meer militairen twijfels kennen over de morele grondslag van de oorlog en de wettelijkheid ervan.
Tegenover de BBC verklaarde hij gisteren dat het aantal deserteurs nog steeds toeneemt.
Bij de cijfers zijn niet inbegrepen militairen die zelf een einde maken aan hun dienstverband wegens bezwaren tegen de Britse aanwezigheid in Irak. Dat gebeurde onlangs in het geval van een lid van de SAS, de Britse elitetroepen. Toen hij bezwaar maakte tegen uitzending naar Irak, werd hij in de gelegenheid gesteld uit de SAS te treden. De regering wil de regels voor militairen aanscherpen. Nu biedt de wet nog speelruimte te weigeren om deel te nemen aan de bezetting van een ander land.

bron: NRC Krantenarchief
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Sep 2006 20:44    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

In de archieven van dit forum ben ik wel cijfers van de Belgen tegengekomen over het totaal aantal meldingen, van de andere geallieerde krijgsmachten alleen het aantal executies. Op internet kan ik tot nu toe alleen laatstgenoemde cijfers vinden.

Is ergens een overzicht van het totaal aantal van desertiezaken?
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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Sep 2006 1:10    Onderwerp: Shot at bawn alsnog onrechtvaardig ? Reageer met quote

1. Het wetsontwerp is nog niet opgesteld, laat staan dat de tekst bekend gemaakt is. Voorzover ik weet althans. We doen het met een persbericht.
2. De bezwaren die nu de ronde doen waren in 1998 nog aanleiding voor de Britse regering om af te zien van het voornemen om eerherstel te verlenen.
3. Eerherstel. “A group blanket pardon”. Geen heropening van concrete zaken. En het gaat ook niet – kán eenvoudig niet gaan- om gratie, postuum.
4. En de reden die gegeven kan worden om dat eerherstel te verlenen, is dat in veel zaken in het krijgstuchtelijk proces geen recht gedaan is. Dat er althans meer dan genoeg twijfels is aan de rechtvaardigheid van de processen. Dat erkent ook Des Brwowne, die het voorstel namens het kabinet gaat indienen.
5. Van een substantieel aantal zaken staat vast dat het geldende procesrecht niet geëerbiedigd is. De meest flagrante schending is wel dat er in een relevant aantal processen geen verdediging (advocaat) optrad. Let wel, het gaat om het toen geldende procesrecht.
6. In een groot aantal andere zaken ontbreekt een dwingende motivering van het vonnis en zijn de feiten uiterst ongewis. Getuigenverklaringen ontbreken. Ulla testis, nulla testis.
7. Het belangrijkste is allicht dat het veelal geen eerlijk proces was omdat de uitkomst bij voorbaat vast stond. Zeker in de zogenaamde gevallen waarin het doel geen strafrechtspleging was maar afschrikking en intimidatie gericht op de troepen te velde (voorbeeld stellen) was.
8. Verder werd het rechtsgevoel ernstig tekort gedaan in de gevallen waarin de beklaagde verschillende malen met onmiskenbare moed aan het gevecht deelgenomen had en vervolgens wegens een vergelijkenderwijs onaanzienlijk vergrijp ter dood veroordeeld werd met de uitspraak: lafheid. Of:: desertie.
9. Overigens gaat het niet om 302 zaken, maar om meer dan drieduizend. In 302 gevallen werd de veroordeelde ‘shot at dawn’, maar ook die anderen werden wel degelijk ter dood veroordeeld, zij het dat het vonnis niet voltrokken werd. De schande is er niet minder om en de consequenties (geen pensioen) evenmin. Maar het persbericht suggereert dat het nu alleen om de geëxecuteerden gaat. Die hadden niet geëxecuteerd moeten of mogen worden.
10. De vraag die rest is of het geen ongeoorloofde ‘correctie’ op de geschiedenis is. Mij lijkt dat nog het minste bezwaar. Ik zie het als een politiek gebaar van rechtvaardigheid, vanwege de overhaaste, onzorgvuldige procesgang met alle bijbedoelingen vandien.
In dezelfde geest als de excuses die regeringsleiders of staatshoofden aan slachtoffers van een hard regiem aanboden. Verzoening dus.
11. Ik zou graag een jurist horen over wat het politieke gebaar juridisch waard is. Niets, omdat geen enkele zaak heropend zal worden ? Dus de vonnissen blijven in stand ? Zij hadden alleen niet uitgevoerd mogen worden ? Dan gaat het dus niet om eerherstel in formele zin ?! Leo van Bergen veronderstelde zondag jl. in Paradiso in zijn slagveldlezing over de Somme, dat de Britse regering geen aanleiding ziet in de manier waarop de processen gevoerd waren om tot eerherstel te komen. Maar de regering excuseert het gewraakte gedrag van de veroordeelden achteraf onder verwijzing naar de heftige oorlogsomstandigheden. Verzachtende omstandigheden of niet toerekeningsvatbaar vanwege shell shock. Ik weet niet waarop Leo zich baseert, misschien op de argumenten van de familie Farr die lange tijd geijverd heeft voor het eerherstel voor Private Farr, 25 toen hij stierf. Het is dus nog niet zo simpel wat Browne wil: NIET alsnog de rechters terechtwijzen omdat zij zouden hebben gedwaald met hun vonnissen, maar WEL die vonnissen zelf laat ik zeggen ontkrachten.
12. En dan zijn er nog de bezwaren van organisaties van veteranen. In sommige gevallen was er echt wel sprake van welbewuste desertie, plichtsverzuim dat tot gevolg had dat je je kameraden in de steek liet. Het nadeel van zo’n group blanket pardon is het onrecht dat de dapperen op deze manier eigenlijk wordt aangedaan, vinden die organisaties.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 10 Sep 2006 7:14    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Haig son slams WW1 pardons move
04.09.06

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The son of First World War commander Field Marshal Douglas Haig today attacked the Government's move to pardon more than 300 men who were executed for military offences during the conflict.

Ex-Colditz Prisoner of War George Haig, 88, whose father signed a number of the death warrants, said many of those executed were "rogues" and "criminals" who deserved to be shot.

Ministers announced last month their intention to put before Parliament a statutory group pardon for all soldiers who faced firing squads for cowardice during the First World War.

If passed by Parliament, the proposal will be included in the Armed Forces Bill.

But talking for the first time about the controversial move, the 2nd Earl Haig said: "It was a terribly sad situation and some of these soldiers were genuinely shell-shocked.

"But many were rogues, persistent deserters and criminals, or they were guilty of cowardice."

Speaking from his family country house in Melrose, in the Scottish Borders, the honorary president of the Royal British Legion Scotland added: "They had to be made an example of.

"I know my father took enormous trouble to consider the merits of each case before authorising any execution. It wasn't a decision he took lightly.

"The soldiers all faced awfully grim conditions on these battlefields but some were more stoical than others and fought on bravely.

"This is history and we should respect the decisions taken by commanders at the time as they knew best."

The Government's decision to pardon the executed men followed a long-running campaign spearheaded by the relatives of Private Harry Farr, who was shot for cowardice during the conflict aged just 25.

His family had always claimed the soldier, who fought at the Battle of the Somme, had been suffering from shell-shock.

Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock), who has championed the pardons campaign, hit back at the 2nd Earl Haig's comments, saying: "I'm astonished he's got the audacity to put his head above the parapet on this one.

"The fact is these men did not get a fair trial. They were not allowed time to prepare their case or to call witnesses.

"And their death warrants were signed, without possibility of appeal, by this man's father."
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BerichtGeplaatst: 29 Okt 2006 18:45    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Coward
I could not look on Death,
which being known,
Men led me to him,
blindfold and alone. De Lafaard
Ik kon de Dood niet in de ogen zien.
En toen dit was geweten,
Leidden mannen mij erheen,
geblinddoekt en alleen


( Uit de bundel 'Grafschriften van de Oorlog', Rudyard Kipling, 1918

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Onderzoek naar executies van deserteurs en lafaards in de Eerste Wereldoorlog
De dood kwam bij het ochtendgloren
Door Rob Ruggenberg


Noord-Frankrijk. Het kleine kerkhof van Bailleulmont ligt, een beetje verloren, in de heuvels net buiten het dorp. Er is geen levende ziel te zien; het is heel vroeg in de ochtend.

Op de begraafplaats is een hoekje ingeruimd voor enkele tientallen Britse gesneuvelden van de Eerste Wereldoorlog. De bekende bruinwitte zerken staan er netjes bij.

Bij één steen ligt een bloem, een verregende klaproos. Onder die steen liggen de resten van een zekere soldaat Albert Ingham. Hij overleed, zoals het kerkhof-register meldt, aan schotwonden.

De inscriptie op die steen, ingebeiteld op last van zijn woedende vader, die pas na de oorlog de waarheid leerde, is schokkend:

S H O T A T D A W N
ONE OF THE FIRST TO ENLIST
A WORTHY SON
OF HIS FATHER


Ingham stierf inderdaad aan schotwonden: hij werd doodgeschoten door een vuurpeleton bestaande uit soldaten van zijn eigen bataljon. Bij zonsopkomst, op 1 december 1916.

Twee jaar eerder behoorde hij tot de eerste Britten die vrijwillig dienstnamen - en zijn vader bleef, tot en met het eind, trots op hem.

Naast Ingham ligt Alfred Longshaw, zijn boezemvriend, onafscheidelijk - tot in de dood. Samen werkten ze bij de spoorwegen, samen namen ze vrijwillig dienst, samen deserteerden ze toen ze werden teruggestuurd naar het gruwelfront aan de Somme. En samen werden door hetzelfde vuurpeleton doodgeschoten.

Tegenstribbelen
Een rij verder ligt soldaat William Hunt, die werd aangetroffen toen hij totaal verwezen op het slagveld ronddoolde. Dat werd voor desertie aangezien.

Omdat de 20-jarige jongeman bij zijn executie nogal tegenstribbelde werd hij eerst met armen en benen aan een stoel vastgebonden. Daarna frommelde de bevelvoerende officier een witte zakdoek tussen Williams overhemd om het doelwit aan te geven.

De meesten van Williams twaalf kameraden die het executiepeloton vormden, schoten echter opzettelijk mis, zodat de jongen na het salvo nog leefde en de officier hem met een pistool een genadeschot moest geven.

Williams grafsteen wijkt niet af van die van de gewone gevallenen naast hem. Nergens is aan af te lezen dat deze jongen niet sneuvelde, maar bij zonsopkomst werd geëxecuteerd.

To be shot at dawn - het is een uitdrukking die steeds terugkeert in de vonnissen van de Britse krijgsraden, die meedogenloos met 'lafaards' afrekenden. Die executies, steevast bij het ochtendgloren, waren nodig pour encourager les autres, zoals de van Napoleon geleende uitdrukking luidde. Om de anderen te bemoedigen.

Toegankelijk
Een honderd kilometer noordelijker, in het Westvlaamse dorpje Reningelst, legt Piet Chielens zwijgend een stapel archiefmappen op de tafel. Kopieën van Britse krijgsraadstukken, na 75 jaar geheimhouding nu eindelijk toegankelijk in de Public Record Office in Kew, bij Londen.

De stukken zijn onthullend: de processen leken nergens op, verdediging was er niet of nauwelijks. Van shellshock, van stress hadden veel rechter-officieren nooit gehoord.

De dossiers zijn dun: in een kwartier tijd soms werd beslist over leven of dood van de 'lafaards' en 'deserteurs'. Onder hen nogal wat jongens van 17, 18 jaar oud, die het op beslissende momenten aan moed ontbrak.

Wat is moed eigenlijk? Onwetenden denken dat moed betekent dat je niet bang bent. Wie het onderging weet dat moed veelal juist samengaat met angst: "Moed is als je bang bent en dan tóch doet wat je moet doen." Zo geredeneerd wordt de definitie van lafheid: "Als je bang bent en niét doet wat je moet doen."

De krijgsraden van die tijd hadden weinig tijd voor filisofie. Piet Chielens: ,,In een oorlog wordt het aantal gesneuvelden al snel een maatstaf voor moed. Hoe meer doden hoe moediger de legereenheid. Blijf je in leven, dan mankeert er kennelijk iets aan je moed. Dan hoeft er maar weinig te gebeuren en heet je laf."

Vrijwilliger
Hij legt het dossier open van Herbert Morris, een zwarte Jamaicaanse oorlogsvrijwilliger, 16 jaar oud, die hier, ver van huis, voor de Britten komt vechten.

Op het slagveld ziet Morris om zich heen zijn kameraden vallen, maar hij overleeft. Op een dag krijgt hij opdracht om borstweringen te gaan bouwen rond de zwaarste kanonnen waar Engeland toen over beschikte. Als die dingen schoten kon je ze in Nederland horen - en in Londen rinkelden dan de kopjes.

Na een paar dagen gaat Morris naar de dokter. "Ik kan dat geluid van die kanonnen niet verdragen", klaagt hij. De arts stuurt hem terug. "Hij gaf me geen medicijn of niks", zegt de jongen later verontschuldigend op de krijgsraadzitting.

Morris ging er van door. Een militaire politieman getuigt dat hij Morris twee dagen later zag toen deze zich, ver van het front, meldde in een soort rustkamp: "Hij had geen papieren bij zich en ook geen geweer." Dat laatste wordt de jongen nog het meest kwalijk genomen.

Maar een luitenant getuigt: "We hadden nooit klachten over zijn gedrag."

En een sergeant komt vertellen: "Morris veroorzaakte nooit problemen. Hij gedroeg zich altijd goed. En hij is intelligenter dan de anderen."

Dat laatste had hij misschien beter niet kunnen zeggen. De zitting duurt nog geen twintig minuten. De krijgsraad acht Herbert Morris schuldig aan "desertie in actieve dienst nabij de frontlijn".

En dan staat er: Penalty: Death.

Kolenhok
En zo werd deze jonge Jamaicaan, inmiddels 17 jaar oud, op 20 september 1917 bij het aanbreken van de dag, om 06.10 uur, door een vuurpeleton doodgeschoten.

Dat gebeurde op de binnenplaats van het stadhuis van Poperinge, in het grote kolenhok, waar zandzakjes tegen een muur waren opgestapeld. Voor die muur stond een paal. Daar werd de jongen aan vastgebonden.

Dat kolenhok is er niet meer. Op die plaats is nu een kleine fietsenstalling. De paal en de muur waartegen Morris - en vele anderen - werden doodgeschoten, staan er nog altijd. Tegen de paal staan fietsen, de meeste met een kinderzitje. De muur is netjes zwartgeverfd.

Kerkhof
Herbert Morris is begraven op het militair kerkhof in Poperinge. Zijn steen draagt alleen zijn naam en geen bijzonder grafschrift.

Naast hem ligt George Everill, die even afwezig was toen zijn bataljon over the top het slagveld werd opgejaagd. Georges weduwe heeft altijd gedacht dat hij tijdens die actie sneuvelde.

De werkelijkheid was dat die kortstondige afwezigheid als desertie werd beschouwd en dat George enkele weken later in datzelfde kolenhok van Poperinge voor het vuurpeleton het leven liet.

Zijn grafschrift luidt: Thy Will be done, from his loving wife and children. Uw wil geschiedde, jaja.

Het is een bizar rijtje, daar op dat militaire kerkhof in Poperinge. Want één steen verder ligt sergeant John Wall die, na een lange en voorbeeldige diensttijd, ineens tijdens een aanval verdween. Hij werd teruggevonden, veroordeeld en op dezelfde wijze geëxecuteerd. Zijn grafschrift: Forever with the Lord. Voor altijd bij de Heer.

En daarnaast ligt soldaat Joseph Stedman, afkomstig uit een legereenheid waarvan er in korte tijd al drie soldaten wegens 'lafheid' tegen de muur waren gezet. Dat verhinderde Stedman niet de benen te nemen. Zijn grafschrift mag voor een in een kolenhok doodgeschoten deserteur wel heel opmerkelijk worden genoemd: He died for King and Country. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Gestorven voor koning en vaderland - is dat sarcasme? Cynisme? Britse humor? Piet Chielens weet zeker van niet. ,,Stedmans familie heeft het ware verhaal vrijwel zeker nooit gehoord."

Aardrijkskunde
Alleen al op deze ene begraafplaats in Poperinge liggen zeventien geëxecuteerde deserteurs. De krijgsraden hadden het er druk mee. Op kerkhoven in de omgeving liggen er nog honderden meer, onopvallend tussen de gesneuvelden. Niemand weet het, niemand ziet het, de kerkhofregisters zwijgen er over. Died from wounds.

Ze liggen tot op een steenworp afstand van Piet Chielens huis. Hij kwam als kind iedere ochtend langs dit kleine kerkhof als hij naar school ging. Hij bestudeerde dan de zerken. "Zo heb ik aardrijkskunde geleerd. Meester, waar ligt York? Waar ligt Bermuda?"

De loopgravenoorlog was zo verschrikkelijk dat talloze soldaten afknapten en instortten. Degenen die het overleefden vertelden hoe het bestaan tussen de overal verspreid liggende lijken, tussen de stank en het gekerm en het gebulder van de kanonnen, iederéén op de zenuwen werkte:

,,Het gebeurde wel dat er gewoon iemand van ons recht overeind op de borstwering sprong, in de hoop dat de vijand hem zou doodschieten. Om maar van die ondraaglijkheid af te zijn."

Slikken
In zo'n situatie, na een verschrikkelijke vijandelijke aanval die al twee uur aan een stuk duurt, wordt het soldaat Arthur Earp ineens te veel. Hij roept naar zijn sergeant dat hij het niet meer aankan en hij rent jankend terug naar een andere loopgraaf. Piet Chielens legt het dossier Earp op tafel. Dat wordt even slikken.

De krijgsraad veroordeelt Earp, dat zal nu niemand meer verbazen, tot de dood bij de dageraad - maar verzoekt tegelijk gratie "wegens 's mans goede karakter en zijn gedrag tot dan toe".

Onderweg naar de opperbevelhebber passeert het gratieverzoek een generaal. Die schrijft er een opmerking bij: "Voorbeelden zijn nodig. Als we zoiets tolereren verlaagt dat de standaard van de dapperheid van de Britse soldaat".

Opperbevelhebber Douglas Haig is het roerend met zijn generaal eens. Hij krabbelt op het gratieverzoek: How can we ever win if this plea is allowed. Het handschrift oogt zelfverzekerd. Hoe zouden de Britten ooit kunnen winnen als dat verzoek werd ingewilligd?

Voorbeelden
Chielens wordt er razend om. "Die houding! Grotesk! Zo hebben de Britten hier meer dan drieduizend doodvonnissen uitgesproken. Daarvan werden er ruim driehonderd uitgevoerd. Om voorbeelden te stellen. Hielp dat? Welnee. Naarmate de oorlog vorderde zie je meer deserties en meer terdoodveroordelingen."

,,De Fransen maakten het het ergst: zij executeerden ruim zestienhonderd van hun eigen mensen. Maar ook de Canadezen deden het. En de Nieuw Zeelanders. En de Amerikanen. En de Duitsers aan de andere kant deden het natuurlijk ook, maar daar weten we helemaal geen bijzonderheden van."

Ook de Belgen schoten hun eigen soldaten dood - of executeerden met de guillotine. In totaal werden gedurende de oorlog achttien Belgische militairen wegens desertie of criminele activiteiten (zoals moord of verkrachtig) geëxecuteerd, van wie dertien in het eerste oorlogsjaar.

Chielens: ,,Alleen de Australiërs deden het niet. Dat is toch opmerkelijk? Ondanks hevige aandrang van de Britten weigerden de Australiërs pertinent om hier hun eigen mensen dood te schieten. En toch was de reputatie van die vier Australische divisies die hier vochten exemplarisch. Op de heetste fronten hielden ze zich voortreffelijk. Dus dat voorbeeld-argument slaat nergens op."

Moeder
Die voorbeeld-functie gold trouwens alleen de directe omgeving van de soldaat. De familie thuis wist vaak van niets. Neem het schrijnende geval van de 16-jarige James Crozier, die in Belfast op een scheepswerf werkte.

Toen hij zich meldde als oorlogsvrijwilliger kwam zijn moeder mee. Tot het laatst probeerde ze hem van dienstneming te weerhouden. Maar de recruteringsofficier, die toevalligerwijs ook Crozier heette, zei tegen de moeder dat ze zich geen zorgen hoefde te maken, want hij zou persoonlijk een oogje op de jongen houden.

Anderhalf jaar later, tijdens de verschrikkingen van de slag om de Somme, verliet soldaat James Crozier de loopgraven en liep verdwaasd door de velden tot iemand hem opmerkte en hem naar een veldhospitaal bracht. De jongen klaagde over pijnen in zijn hele lichaam - maar de dokter vond niets bijzonders.

De krijgsraad veroordeelde hem, het wordt eentonig, to be shot at dawn. Luitenant-kolonel Crozier was - wat heet toeval - bataljonscommandant van James en hield, trouw aan zijn belofte, persoonlijk een oogje in het zeil. In zijn functie moest hij aan de krijgsraad zijn mening geven. Zonder enige aarzeling adviseerde hij de doodstraf ten uitvoer te leggen.

Dronken
Die nacht dreigde oproer in de eenheid en de militaire politie vreesde - zo blijkt uit de stukken - dat het vuurpeloton zou weigeren te schieten. Kameraden voerden de terdoodveroordeelde jongen dronken.

Ook de officier die het vuurpeloton moest commanderen probeerde zich te bedrinken, maar daar stak de luitenant-kolonel nog net op tijd persoonlijk een stokje voor.

Bij zonsopkomst werd James Crozier naar buiten gedragen. Hij was bewusteloos van de drank. Hij werd geblinddoekt en aan een paal gebonden. Het vuurpeloton schoot - maar de jongen was niet dood. De officier gaf hem een genadeschot in het hoofd.

Luitenant-kolonel Crozier is later brigade-generaal geworden. Hij stuurde de moeder van de jongen nog wel een brief waarin stond dat Engeland de gage-uitbetaling aan haar had stopgezet, omdat het vaderland haar zoon had geëxecuteerd.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 29 Okt 2006 19:28    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Mooi stuk Emiel.
Als ik het lees dan krijg ik bijna tranen in de ogen.
Noem het vals sentiment. Dat mag.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 29 Okt 2006 20:47    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

en voor het Frans leger is volgend boek
van Andre Bach warm aanbevolen



Titel: Fusillés pour l’exemple 1914-1915
Auteur: André Bach
Uitgave: Tallandier Editions, Parijs, 2003
ISBN: 2-84734-040-8

Recensie: Frank van den Bergh

In oorlogstijd wordt door de militaire rechtspraak hard opgetreden tegen soldaten die tegen militaire wetten zondigen. Één van de voornaamste zonden is desertie en hier kan de doodstraf op staan. In de Eerste Wereldoorlog werd die nog al eens voltrokken en tot de dag van vandaag bestaat het beeld van een harteloos militair rechtsapparaat dat soldaten ter dood veroordeelde “om een voorbeeld te stellen”. Zie voor een mooi voorbeeld van dit beeld de film Paths of Glory van Stanley Kubrick, een film, die overigens op een historisch feit, de executie van drie korporaals in Suippes, berust. In veel literatuur wordt met name verwezen naar grote aantallen executies, die na de muiterijen het Franse leger in 1917 plaatsgevonden zouden hebben. En in Engeland wordt tot de dag van vandaag door nabestaanden campagne gevoerd om een officieel eerherstel te verlenen aan de soldaten die in de Eerste Wereldoorlog wegens lafheid gefusilleerd werden en van wie men tegenwoordig aanneemt dat zij aan psychische problemen hebben. Zonder al te veel succes overigens.

Er zijn in de afgelopen jaren al verschillende studies verschenen naar deze executies, en recentelijk vielen mij de twee bovengenoemde boeken in handen. Beide boeken verschillen nogal in aanpak van het onderwerp.

Bij Putkowski en Sykes staan vooral de Britse gefusilleerde soldaten centraal, tenminste wanneer zij gedood werden op grond van de Army Act. Daarnaast zijn er natuurlijk ook nog veel anderen geweest, die niet op grond van een veroordeling onder deze Army Act voor het vuurpeloton belandden of die standrechterlijk geëxecuteerd werden, maar die komen in het boek niet aan bod. In hun boek staan de verhalen van de slachtoffers centraal en van allen wordt een kort stukje geschreven over hun proces of de redenen waarom zij voor het vuurpeloton belandden. Vaak zijn het verhalen die een scherp licht werpen op de juridische procedures en latere cover-ups. Het is niet voor niets dat de auteurs zich aan het begin van hun boek verontschuldigen bij mogelijke nabestaanden, die tot de dag van vandaag niet weten wat er exact met de mannen gebeurd is en die denken dat zij gewoon gesneuveld zijn. Ook hebben Putowski en Sykes achter in hun boek overzichten van de gefusilleerden opgenomen naar plaats van begrafenis, regiment en datum van executie. Plus een naamregister natuurlijk. Daar staat tegenover dat beide auteurs geen aandacht besteden aan de mentaliteiten van de rechters, met name in de hogere echelons van het leger, die moesten beslissen over leven en dood van de veroordeelden.


Bach benadert de zaak heel anders. Bij Bach staat de geschiedenis en voorgeschiedenis van de fusillades in de Eerste Wereldoorlog centraal. Een overzicht van alle gefusilleerden ontbreekt bij hem volledig en ook geeft hij niet in alle gevallen de namen, laat staan dat hij diep in gaat op de achtergronden van de gefusilleerden. Daarentegen gaat hij diep in op de achtergronden van de fusillades. Hierin komen onder andere de mentaliteit van de legers en de commanderende officieren uitgebreid aan bod, en wordt ook de juridische achtergrond in Frankrijk uitgebreid beschreven. Zo heeft met name een decreet van december 1870 in 1914 en 1915 veel dodelijke gevolgen gehad. Want hierin werden heel scherpe maatregelen genomen tegen deserteurs e.a. Wellicht dat deze nadruk op de historische achtergrond vooral komt doordat Bach zelf generaal in het Franse leger was en hij jarenlang de baas van de historische dienst en archieven van het Franse leger geweest is.

Ook besteedt Bach veel aandacht aan de mentaliteit van het Franse opperbevel. Met name Joffre komt hier niet al te genadig uit de bus. Want toen in 1914 de zaken mis gingen waren vooral hij en minister van oorlog Messimy van mening dat opperbevelhebber Joffre hiervoor geen blaam trof. Hij had immers zijn ondergeschikten een perfecte strategie en de middelen ervoor gegeven en die ondergeschikten hadden de boel verklooid. Geen wonder dat veel Franse generaals in de zomer en herfst van 1914 van hun functie ontheven werden. En dat terwijl het natuurlijk eigenlijk Joffre is, die de meeste blaam verdient, want hij was verantwoordelijk voor de bijna fatale opstelling van het Franse leger.

Één van de interessante zaken die in het boek van Bach aan het licht komen is het feit dat het grootste deel van de fusillades in het Franse leger niet plaatsvond in 1917, toen de grote muiterijen onderdrukt moesten worden, maar in de wanhopige periode van 1914-15. Dit waren er ongeveer 430! Dit kwam onder andere doordat de grote verliezen onder officieren en onderofficieren in de eerste maanden van de oorlog tot een groot gebrek aan kader geleid hadden, hetgeen weer tot problemen met de discipline leidde. Gedurende de Eerste Wereldoorlog hebben de Britten naar schatting ongeveer 400 man gefusilleerd en de Fransen iets meer dan 600. Opvallend genoeg bedraagt het aantal om vergelijkbare redenen gefusilleerde soldaten aan Duitse kant 38 of 48, afhankelijk van welke bron je leest. Dit vormt ook een opvallend contrast met de meer dan tienduizend Duitse soldaten die in de Tweede Wereldoorlog geëxecuteerd zijn.

Beide boeken zijn een fraaie aanvulling op de literatuur betreffende de Eerste Wereldoorlog en zij geven een waardevolle aanvulling bij de mentaliteitsgeschiedenis.

uit
http://www.ducosim.nl/nieuw/wiki.php?id=367

Deze baksteen zit in mijn boekenkast ,
moet hem nog lezen alleen maar in gesnoept!

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BerichtGeplaatst: 27 Dec 2006 11:26    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Soldier awarded posthumous pardon to have name added to WW1 memorial

Private Harry Farr: Was shot at dawn as a deserter in October 1916


A First World War soldier who was shot for cowardice is to have his name carved on a local war memorial for the first time after being pardoned earlier this year.

The family of Private Harry Farr, who was shot at dawn as a deserter in October 1916, said that they were 'overjoyed' that he would now be recognised alongside men who died in battle during the Great War.

His descendants spent years campaigning for a pardon on the basis that Harry Farr was suffering from mental breakdown due to the horrors of combat - then known as 'shell shock' - and that his execution was a grave miscarriage of justice.

Their efforts made Pte Farr a test case, and earlier this year the Government finally caved in to demands and gave a formal posthumous pardon to all 306 British soldiers executed by firing squad for desertion between 1914 and 1918.

Some academic historians voiced unease over the move, pointing out that some of those included in the blanket pardon were probably genuine deserters who let down their comrades and were not suffering from mental breakdown.

Such was the stigma attached to cowardice cases during the First World War that when towns, villages and churches later erected memorials, their names of executed deserters were left off.

Now scores more names are expected to be added to memorials across the country, in cases where there are descendants alive to apply for the change.

Harry Farr's name will be added to the civic war memorial in Wealdstone, north west London, where his closest relatives now live, and an unveiling ceremony is planned sometime in January.

His daughter Gertrude Harris, 93, from Wealdstone, heard of the official confirmation of his pardon from her hospital bed, where she is recovering from a broken hip.

Her own daughter, Janet Booth, 63, said: 'She was delighted and so pleased that all the other men had got their pardons as well.

'The engraving ceremony is what she is really looking forward to so hopefully it will spur her on to get better.'

Chris Mote, leader of Harrow Council, said the engraving ceremony would primarily be a family event, adding: 'We will have the name engraved at Wealdstone because that seems to be the most appropriate place.

'We will be keeping in touch with the family and will act in accordance with their wishes.'

John Hipkin, 80, who runs the Shot at Dawn campaign group, welcomed the news, saying: 'It is a very negative attitude to keep these names off memorials.

'Now with this pardon I hope any outstanding cases will be dealt with in the same way.'

The Ministry of Defence resisted calls for a mass pardon for many years, but earlier this year Defence Secretary Des Browne announced that all 306 men executed would be formally cleared of charges of cowardice.

Many of those executed were among the estimated 250,000 teenage boys who lied about their age to join the British Army during the war.

They include Abraham Bevistein, a young Jewish boy from east London who was just 15 when he enlisted and only 17 when he faced the firing squad - still too young legally either to fight for his country or to be executed.

Britain shot far more soldiers for battlefield crimes during the Great War than other countries.

Germany's army was twice as large as Britain's yet only 25 men were shot. Both France and Germany have since posthumously pardoned all those they executed, as has New Zealand.

Adding names to civic war memorials is at the discretion of local councils.

In the case of church memorials, however, the process is more complex and could take some months, as each case must be approved by the parish, a diocesan committee and an ecclesiastical judge.


http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23379548-details/Soldier%20awarded%20posthumous%20pardon%20to%20have%20name%20added%20to%20WW1%20memorial/article.do
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BerichtGeplaatst: 13 Feb 2007 20:26    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

memorial for pardoned soldiers
By Sukhi Anand



TWO soldiers executed by the British Army during the First World War will be honoured on a memorial next week, 90 years after their deaths.

Private Harry Farr was branded a coward after a 20-minute court martial, while Driver James Swaine was shot for being a deserter. Both men died in 1916.

Before Private Farr's death, he spent five months in hospital being treated for shellshock.
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He was executed after refusing to fight at the Battle of the Somme.

His daughter, Gertrude Harris, 93, of Blackwell Close, Harrow Weald, and granddaughter, Janet Booth, 64, of Farnham, argued his medical history was never taken into account during his trial.

They took the Ministry of Defence to the High Court on three occasions to get him, and 301 other soldiers, pardoned.

Their 15-year campaign ended last year when an amendment was made to the Armed Forces Act, clearing the names of hundreds of wrongly-executed soldiers.

Gertrude said: "It has been wonderful that we got the pardon for Harry and the other soldiers. The cherry on the cake is his name being put on the war memorial."

Driver Swaine moved to Herga Road, in Wealdstone, with his wife and two children, between 1912 and 1914. He originally joined the Royal Horse and Field Artillery in 1900 until 1903 and re-enlisted in 1914 at the age of 34.

Terry Morrish, 73, Driver Swaine's grandson, said he was killed despite being declared medically unfit by doctors at Mount Vernon Hospital. Terry only found out about his grandfather's death at his mother's funeral in 1979.

He said: "I was never told anything. I grew up believing my step-grandfather was my real grandfather."

Driver Swaine came home for Christmas in 1915 but never returned to the front line. He was arrested and sent to Northern France without his family's knowledge. Terry said: "He had already served 17 months. He was caught going into a pub in Willesden.

"They didn't let him go home or speak to his family. He was executed a few months later, his wife and my mother never knew where he was buried."

On February 18 at 2.30pm, close relatives of Private Farr and Driver Swaine will finally see their loved one's names set in stone on the Wealdstone War Memorial in Spencer Road, Wealdstone.

8:32am Saturday 10th February 2007

http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/mostpopular.var.1183983.mostviewed.memorial_for_pardoned_soldiers.php
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Okt 2007 21:44    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Part one: The truth behind the Irish soldiers shot at dawn

The Forgotten

Thursday, October 25, 2007

By Stephen Walker

Twenty-eight Irish soldiers were executed by the British Army during the First World War for desertion and disobedience. For decades, the full story of how they died remained secret. For the first time, award-winning BBC Northern Ireland journalist Stephen Walker tells their story

Outside the winter snow lined the ground. James Crozier's guards wanted him to walk the short distance to a small garden where the firing party was waiting. The young rifleman was too drunk to move, and he had to be carried out into the open space. By now he was practically unconscious. Bound with ropes, he was attached to the execution post. His battalion formed up on the open road close to the garden. Screened by a wall, they wouldn't see the execution but would hear the shots.

Crozier's namesake Frank Percy Crozier, the man who recruited him and promised his mother he'd watch out for her son, was now preparing to watch him die. Crozier later recalled how he was secured to a stake 10 yards from the firing squad. "There are hooks on the post; we always do things thoroughly in the Rifles. He is hooked on like dead meat in a butcher's shop. His eyes are bandaged - not that it really matters, for he is already blind."

Then James Crozier was shot.

"A volley rings out - a nervous volley it is true, yet a volley. Before the fatal shots are fired I had called the battalion to attention. There is a pause, I wait. I see the medical officer examining the victim. He makes a sign, the subaltern strides forward, a single shot rings out. Life is now extinct." The firing squad, made up of men from his own regiment, shot wide, so James Crozier was killed by a bullet fired by a junior officer. After the shooting, as Frank Crozier recalled, life resumed as normal. " We march back to breakfast while the men of a certain company pay the last tribute at the graveside of an unfortunate comrade. This is war."

Frank Crozier didn't want James' family to discover how he had died. He tried but failed to pass off his death as 'killed in action'. Details of the manner of Crozier's death leaked out - though the facts weren't made public at the time. Weeks later one of Frank Crozier's officers was tackled about the shooting while on leave. He was asked by a civilian about the Crozier execution, and it was suggested that it had brought shame on the battalion and on the city of Belfast.

Crozier's colleague angrily replied: "He tried and failed. He died for such as you! Isn't it time you had a shot at dying for your country?"

When James Crozier was shot he became the youngest Irish deserter to face a firing squad; but Frank Percy Crozier's career blossomed. He saw action at the Battle of the Somme and rose up the ranks to eventually become a brigadier-general. After the war his life took a number of unexpected and controversial twists. In 1919 he was promoted to general and appointed military adviser to the newly established Lithuanian army; but his new job was not a success, and within months he resigned. He then returned to Ireland and became the commander of the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and, as ever, controversy followed his every footstep. When he died, in 1937, the newspapers were full of details of his past exploits on the battlefield and his later days as an author and peace campaigner. His death received much national attention, in contrast with the secret demise of his namesake two decades earlier.

Lance Corporal Peter Sands Royal Irish Rifles

In his uniform, Peter Sands looked at ease, back in the familiar narrow streets close to his home in west Belfast. To the casual observer the lance-corporal looked like any other serviceman enjoying a few days' leave with his family away from the horrors of battle. However, the 26-year-old harboured a secret: he should have been with his battalion in France and was now officially listed as a deserter.

For weeks the stay-at-home soldier lived openly with his wife in their terrace house in Abyssinia Street, near the Falls Road. However, his respite in the world of domesticity would be short-lived. No one knows who informed the authorities in Belfast, but when Constable Clarke of the local Royal Irish Constabulary was told about the behaviour of Peter Sands, the lance-corporal's unsanctioned home leave came to an abrupt end.

Sands, a lance-corporal in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, travelled legitimately back to Belfast with a comrade after being given temporary leave to return home. It was a chance for him to spend some time with his wife, Eliza-Lillie, and his daughter, Mary. The travel warrant was for four days' leave, and Sands and Sergeant Whelan were expected to return to France on March 1. On that day both men were due to board a train and begin the journey back to the front. However, when Sergeant Whelan turned up at the railway platform he was on his own and Sands was not to be seen.

It was most unusual for the lance-corporal to be missing. A regular soldier, he had some nine years' Army service and was well versed in the regulations governing home leave.

During his stay at home Sands claimed he lost his military travel papers, which would have secured his passage back to France. He said that on the day he was expected back for duty he went to a barracks in Belfast to obtain a fresh travel warrant. There he allegedly spoke to a Corporal Wright, who told him he knew nothing about him.

Sands would later tell his court martial that he left the depot empty-handed and that while he continued to stay in Belfast he wore his uniform at all times.

Over the next few months, as Sands readjusted to civilian life in Ireland, he and his former comrades lived in two very different worlds.

At the Western Front the men he had left behind took part in the battle of Neuve-Chapelle in March and two months later saw action at Aubers Ridge, where the British casualties would number 11,000.

At home in Belfast life was more comfortable for Peter Sands, though there were constant reminders of the war he had walked away from. Recruiting offices around the city were attracting hundreds of young men as the war effort became intensive. Belfast's hospitals continued to take in the injured from France, and in May the centre of the city came to a standstill as men of the 36th (Ulster) Division paraded in front of thousands of well-wishers as they set off for the front.

We do not know how all this affected Peter Sands, but the local war effort clearly inspired one public-spirited individual to turn Peter Sands in. In July, as a result of a tip-off, the police arrested him for desertion. A military escort was then organised to travel with him, and, as was customary, he was brought back to France for the court martial.

In his defence Sands recounted the story of going to the depot for a new warrant and added in mitigation: "Had I intended to desert I would have worn plain clothes, but up to that time I was arrested I always wore uniform. "

Sands was found guilty of desertion and sentenced to death. His character references were good ones. The brigadier-general commanding the 25th Infantry Brigade wrote: 'His commanding officer gives him a very good character, both in ordinary behaviour and as a fighting man.' But such kind assurances were only part of the story. The same officer wrote: 'I consider this a bad case of desertion and I recommend that the sentence be carried out.'

A series of senior officers endorsed this position, notably Douglas Haig, then commanding the First Army. He said the desertion was a bad case and recommended that the extreme penalty be carried out.

Little is known of Peter Sands' final hours. It is most likely that he was visited by a chaplain, was given a chance to write a final letter home, and possibly was offered alcohol. His military papers simply record that at dawn on September 15, 1915, he went before a firing squad at Fleurbaix, near Armentières. He was buried in the nearby churchyard, but after the war his grave could not be found, so his name was later commemorated in Cabaret-Rouge Military Cemetery at Souchez.

Private James Templeton and Private John McCracken Royal Irish Rifles

James Templeton (20), from Enfield Street in Belfast, had been an apprentice in a mill, but when war was declared he joined the Army. He enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles 15th Battalion, also known as the North Belfast Volunteers.

A month earlier, in September 1914, John McCracken, a year younger than Templeton, also joined up.

The pair later travelled to England, arriving in France a year after joining the ranks. They had similar disciplinary records. Templeton quickly developed a reputation for going absent. Two days after Christmas Day in 1915 he disappeared and failed to turn up for a parade. A month later he missed two more parades in one day. In February 1916 he again went missing and once again missed the roll-call at another two parades.

McCracken's Army career included a series of misdemeanours, albeit minor ones. He had been absent from a parade, had once been found with dirty ammunition, and had left a working party without permission.

In February 1916 those minor crimes caught up with him, and, like his Belfast colleague, he found himself fighting for his life. The first of the men to go absent that month was Templeton. The battalion war diary records show that on February 20 the men were in a place called Beaussart, where for two days there had been heavy shelling. The attack continued at night where a succession of German barrages led to 14 casualties. That night Templeton went missing, then McCracken felt ill and was being taken to a field ambulance. He had fallen during operations and claimed to have hurt his back during a march. The medical officer couldn't find anything wrong with him, and the next day he was ordered back to the trenches, two-and-a-half miles away.

Meanwhile, Templeton was going in the opposite direction. He'd walked away from the frontline and encountered Lance-Corporal Holdsworth in a village some six miles away. The NCO was in Templeton's regiment and recognised his comrade, who by now had no rifle.

Templeton was arrested and detained overnight. By this stage McCracken was back at the frontline and on sentry duty with his platoon. At 8pm a routine check showed that another member of the battalion was missing and this time McCracken could not be found. He had left his post, but, like Templeton, he would eventually walk back to members of his own regiment.

Templeton and McCracken were charged with desertion and appeared before a court martial on February 27. Templeton's hearing was very short. In his defence all he said was that he was "sorry for what he had done". McCracken's defence was similar. He said: "I had only just come out of hospital and was not feeling fit. I am sorry for what I have done." The soldiers' contrition had no effect. Both were found guilty of desertion and sentenced to death by firing squad.

McCracken was medically examined and comments about his character were sought from his superior officers. Major W B Ewart, who commanded the 15th Battalion, wrote that although McCracken's character was 'poor' this may have been because shortly after he arrived in France his mother had died. The major added that the soldier's misdemeanours up to that time had been minor. Though he left the front line he added: "I think the man did not know the seriousness of his action." On March 19, as daylight broke across the Somme, the two men were placed before a firing squad and were shot side by side.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Okt 2007 21:46    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Part two: Lest they forget... the extraordinary battle to clear loved ones' names
In this second exclusive extract from Forgotten Soldiers: The Irishmen Shot at Dawn Stephen Walker tells how an ex-Stormont minister, a veteran of the peace process and a Dublin bus driver found themselves at the centre of the pardons debate

Friday, October 26, 2007

By Stephen Walker

Iveagh House sits grandly overlooking St Stephen's Green in the commercial heart of central Dublin. Once a bishop's residence, it's a warren of corridors and secret passages and makes an impressive home for the staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In 2002 a smartly dressed man in his 50s carrying a briefcase walked into the reception area. In the long-running battle to win pardons for the executed British soldiers, a Dublin bus driver was about to try a new tactic.

Peter Mulvany had recently established the Irish branch of the Shot at Dawn group. His efforts had begun to attract the support of politicians from all parts of the country. He quickly secured unionist and nationalist backing in Northern Ireland and all-party support in the Republic.

When he wrote to the Department of Foreign Affairs explaining that Irish soldiers had been executed in the Great War, officials took note, as one would later recall: "He told us about the Irish cases and explained how they had been victims of a miscarriage of justice."

The Irish officials did more than simply listen to Peter Mulvany. Convinced the British had a case to answer, officials in Iveagh House did some initial research and then briefed the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen. In November 2003 he announced that the Irish government was supporting the Shot at Dawn campaign.

In February 2004 officials met their counterparts in the Ministry of Defence in London and asked to see the files pertaining to the Irish soldiers. The officials seemed surprised but did not refuse the request, and within a month copies of the files were on their way to Dublin.

Over the next six months officials at Iveagh House pored over the court martial files of the Irish-born soldiers. By the time their report was complete there had been a reshuffle in the Irish government, and the report's authors had a new superior to report to. Brian Cowen had been replaced by Dermot Ahern.

Ahern, a Fianna Fail TD from Dundalk, was sceptical at first about the idea of backing the campaign. However, after he read the report he became four-square behind the move. He realised how significant the issue was to the families, to the campaigners and to Anglo-Irish relations. However, he was also conscious it had to be handled carefully and that it shouldn't be about 'getting at the Brits'.

He simply wanted a resolution that recognised how the Irish soldiers had been unjustly and unfairly treated.

The Irish report, which analysed each case, allegations of class bias and the perceived disparity in the treatment of Irish soldiers, was completed by the autumn of 2004, sent to the Irish embassy in London and passed on to the British Government.

Officials in Dublin would have to wait months for a reply from London. Though the issue was raised in Anglo-Irish meetings in 2005, a year later the British Government had still not formally responded. For the officials in Dublin the delay was frustrating; but by this time the Irish cases were not the only ones preoccupying officials of the Ministry of Defence. Six months earlier, in May, a landmark legal case had begun involving the family of Private Harry Farr, who was shot for cowardice in 1916.

For 14 years Farr's family, including his 93-year-old daughter Gertie and granddaughter Janet Booth, had campaigned for a pardon, and after the Government rejected their appeal relatives brought an action in the High Court. The family insisted that Harry Farr, who had been serving with the West Yorkshire Regiment, had shell-shock and had not been given a fair trial. Farr's relatives had first been told there were no legal grounds on which to challenge the Government's refusal to grant a full pardon.

However, during the legal proceedings Mr Justice Stanley Burnton said there was 'room for argument' that the family had been wrongly refused a conditional pardon. The case began to take on some significance, and it became clear that if the family were successful the Ministry of Defence would have to reopen the remaining 305 cases.

As the Farr case placed the issue of pardons in the public eye, discussions were taking place away from the gaze of the cameras. Don Touhig, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, had come to the private conclusion that the Ministry of Defence should prepare the ground for a U-turn on pardons.

He went looking for allies who would support the pardons legislation and who carried political influence. He met Dáithí Ó Ceallaigh, the Irish ambassador to Britain, and in the breakfast room at the Irish embassy in London the two men discussed the Irish government's desire to see pardons for all the executed British soldiers, including the Irish-born soldiers. Breakfast meetings were the ambassador's speciality; his previous guests had included the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and the leader of the DUP, Ian Paisley. In 2006 Touhig and Ó Ceallaigh spoke for 90 minutes and the two men shared much common ground. Touhig suggested to his host that it would be helpful if Taoiseach Bertie Ahern raised the issue of pardons at his next meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair. The ambassador agreed to brief Ahern before his next meeting and at Touhig's suggestion agreed that the Irish government should send a letter to increase the political pressure. On Wednesday, May 3, Dáithí Ó Ceallaigh went to the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall. He took with him a letter from Dermot Ahern, who was asking for a response to the Irish government's report. Ó Ceallaigh was taken to the office of Bill Jeffrey, the department's permanent under-secretary. Jeffrey was an experienced civil servant and no stranger to receiving Irish visitors. He was well-known on the Anglo-Irish circuit, having been political director at the Northern Ireland Office for four years. He passed on the letter to his minister; but John Reid the Defence Secretary had little time to draw up a response.

Two days later, on May 5, Tony Blair was suffering from a political hangover and embarked on the biggest reshuffle of his premiership.

In an attempt to regain political momentum after a disastrous local election campaign he initiated a game of musical chairs around the Cabinet table. In Reid's place at the Ministry of Defence came a fellow-Scotsman and Blair loyalist, Des Browne, who had experience in the Home Office, the NIO and the Treasury. The Browne appointment would transform the atmosphere in which the pardons campaign was now being fought.

Browne, who was a barrister in Scotland before entering politics, quickly got to grips with the legal intricacies of the Farr case.

His legal background was obviously useful, but so too was his previous ministerial experience and in particular his time at the NIO. Browne, whose mother comes from Warrenpoint and who has extended family in Northern Ireland, enjoyed his time in Belfast.

One of his final duties in Northern Ireland as Minister for Victims brought him into contact with hundreds of relatives whose loved ones had been killed in the Troubles.

"Nobody can come out of Northern Ireland without having a clear sense of how victimhood in Northern Ireland can pass over generations.

"People who are long disconnected in time and personal experience from things that have happened in Northern Ireland have a very strong sense of victimhood because of what their family suffered and the absence of any redress for that or justice." When he started work at the Ministry of Defence his views on the Great War executions were already mapped out: " I came to the job with a sympathy for the families and a sense of injustice." By 2006 the Farr case had given the Shot at Dawn campaigners much hope. By now Des Browne was preparing to do something his predecessors had resolutely refused to do.

In August the rumours and speculation turned to fact when the Ministry of Defence contacted the Farr family to inform them that Harry Farr and 305 other servicemen would be pardoned. Stunned, Gertie Harris simply could not believe that her father was at last being pardoned.

That night she was unable to sleep, so she listened to radio bulletins throughout the evening: and slowly the news began to sink in. Andrew Mackinlay, in Australia as a member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, was asleep in his hotel room in Canberra.

He was woken from his slumber and, like Gertie Harris, he tried to take in what he was being told.

The next day the full details of the Government's proposals became clear. Des Browne later explained that the move was about righting a wrong: "I believe a group pardon, approved by Parliament, is the best way to deal with this. After 90 years the evidence just doesn't exist to assess all the cases individually. I do not want to second-guess decisions made by the commanders at the time, who were doing their best to apply the rule and standards of the time. But the circumstances were terrible and I believe it is better to acknowledge that injustices were clearly done in some cases - even if we cannot say which - and to acknowledge that all these men were victims of war. "

The news that pardons were forthcoming was greeted with delight by the Irish government and those behind the Irish Shot at Dawn campaign.

In Dublin, Peter Mulvany was both thrilled and stunned when the news finally came through: "Even though I had a sense that something was happening, I was stunned when it happened and I simply could not believe it."

That disbelief and joy was shared in many homes in Britain and Ireland. Muriel Davis (92) heard the news at her house in Warwickshire. Her brother-in-law Tommy, from Ennis, Co Clare, was a member of the Munster Fusiliers who was executed in 1915 for quitting his post in Gallipoli.

"Tommy's mother would have been so relieved. She had led a life of grief; she couldn't talk about it. Even when she did talk about him she filled up with tears. She knew he was not a coward."

Similar emotions were felt in the Walsh household in Dublin. Christy Walsh is the great-nephew of Patrick Downey, a private in the Leinster Regiment who was shot in December 1915. His death was a landmark in the history of military executions, as he became the first soldier to be executed for disobedience during the First World War.

"The stigma has been removed from this family. It is now accepted that Irishmen went and fought for the British, and at the time many of them were not seen as Irish - but now we can call them Irish. We owe it to the Irish executed to show they were victims of an injustice."

In November 2006, the most appropriate of months, it was the job of Derek Twigg to lead the debate in the House of Commons. A number of Conservative MPs opposed the Government's plans, and Derek Twigg was accused of 'rewriting history' and letting rogues off the hook.

Despite the opposition, Twigg reminded his parliamentary colleagues that the pardon was about removing the dishonour of execution and not about quashing convictions or sentences.

Coincidentally, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, was in London when the bill received the Royal Assent, and he took the opportunity to ring the Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne, to convey his appreciation. Ahern was pleased that a resolution had been found and told Browne that the Irish campaign had been an example of how people from different traditions had come together to campaign on an issue of shared history.

Ninety years earlier, at the outbreak of the Great War, Protestants and Catholics, unionists and nationalists, had joined forces to fight for a common cause. Now that unity of purpose had been repeated when every major political party on the island of Ireland endorsed the pardons campaign. As a former NIO minister, Browne understood the subtleties of Ahern's comments and was pleased that the Irish government now accepted that the issue was resolved.

©http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/features/books/article3099646.ece
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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Feb 2008 14:00    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Memorial visit for granddaughter

The granddaughter of a soldier shot for desertion has met the man behind adding his name to a war memorial on a visit to the monument.

World War I soldier Pte Joseph Bateman, of Wordsley, West Midlands, was shot in December 1917 by firing squad.

Historian Graham Hodgson got Dudley Council to add the soldier's name to Wordsley's war memorial last year.

The Staffordshire Regiment soldier's grand-daughter, Judith Lampitt, was traced after a TV appeal in January.

Marked by lipstick

A BBC Midlands Today report featuring the historian told her how Pte Bateman died at 0635 GMT on 3 December 1917.

Ms Lampitt, from Evesham, Worcestershire, said: "(Mr Hodgson) has done all of the hard work. We didn't know how my grandfather had died.

"I knew he died in the war, he'd been shot in the war, but I had no idea at all he had died in that way."

Ms Lampitt said she felt emotional visiting the memorial, which stands in front of Holy Trinity Church, where her grandparents had married.

She has now shown the historian what Pte Bateman looked like - the only photograph is marked by lipstick where her grandmother kissed it after learning of his death.

Pte Bateman was one of 306 British deserters shot by firing squad during WWI.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7247990.stm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Apr 2008 9:33    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Een lijst met de 23 terechtgestelde Canadezen en nog heel wat meer info te vinden op : http://home.cogeco.ca/~cdnsad/index.html
(helemaal onderaan de pagina)
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Apr 2008 17:44    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ziek hoe die haigh ruim 300 mannen de dood in joeg, en dan gaat het nog maar enkel om excecuties.
Om nog maar van de Fransen te zwijgen...


Hoe komt trouwens dat de Duitsers hier geen gegevens van hebben? nooit bijgehouden of gewoon nog nooit vrijgegeven?
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Apr 2008 19:40    Onderwerp: Lijst Canadese terechtgestelden Reageer met quote

Met Butler en Benjamin de Fehr erbij (ter dood veroordeeld wegens moord, de anderen wegens desertie) staan er hier 25 , met een korte beschrijving er bovenop :
http://www.stephen-stratford.co.uk/canadians.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Mei 2008 14:02    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Over de 25 Canadese slachtoffers van Shot at Dawn is dit boekje verschenen. Niet vermeld in de lijsten en het boekje is de Canadees Hector Delande (Dalande), wegens desertie geexecuteerd op 9 Maart 1918. Delande diende niet bij een Canadese eenheid maar bij de Schotse Seaforth Highlanders, wat de reden schijnt te zijn waarom hij niet wordt vermeld in het boekje en die lijsten.


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BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Mei 2008 10:40    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Dit topic heeft me precies geen goed gedaan, vannacht droomde ik dat ik (het is nogal vaag, zoals dromen meestal zijn) net in één of ander leger zat en ik moest al meteen gefusileerd worden.
Waarop ik natuurlijk wou vluchten, hoe zou je zelf zijn.

Het vreemde was dat ik zoiets nog al eens gedroomd heb en dat ik dat in mijn droom ook wist, want dat zei ik dan zogezegd tegen mijn moeder.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Mei 2008 11:32    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Dat zijn er dan al 26. Is er iets bekend over eventuele gefusilleerde Canadezen die gediend hebben in het Franse leger ?

Quote:
Niet vermeld in de lijsten en het boekje is de Canadees Hector Delande (Dalande), wegens desertie geexecuteerd op 9 Maart 1918. Delande diende niet bij een Canadese eenheid maar bij de Schotse Seaforth Highlanders, wat de reden schijnt te zijn waarom hij niet wordt vermeld in het boekje en die lijsten.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Mei 2008 14:14    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Quote:
Dat zijn er dan al 26. Is er iets bekend over eventuele gefusilleerde Canadezen die gediend hebben in het Franse leger ?


Daar ben ik tot nu toe niets over tegen gekomen. Ik heb net een mailtje met de vraag aan Julian Putkowski gestuurd en meteen al een antwoord. Hij weet het antwoord ook niet maar gaf wel een paar namen om eventueel verder te vragen. Ik kijk nu of hij misschien de email adressen voor me heeft.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Mei 2008 19:12    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Wat ik me al een tijd afvraag, wat voor mogelijkheden een leger heeft als er een deel van zijn leden de plaat poets in tijden van oorlog. De strijd is uitzichtloos, beide partijen zijn even sterk en men vermoed dat een overwinning alleen is weggelegd voor degene die het langst kan volhouden.
Pyschiatrie staat in zijn kinderschoenen, zeker onder oorlogsomstandigheden. Het thuisfront is niet bijmachte te snappen wat er gebeurd aan het front, immers op een paar kilometer aan de frontlijn is een leven dat enigzins normaal kan worden genoemd.
Wat moet een legerleiding dan doen om deserties te stoppen. Nu wil ik zeker de toenmalige militaire rechtspraak niet verdedigen, maar wat zat er anders op. Ik weet het niet. Men kan zeggen stoppen met de uitzichtloze strijd, maar dat was toen geen optie.

Mvg Willem
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BerichtGeplaatst: 03 Mei 2008 1:09    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ergens heb ik wel begrip voor die beslissing van de generaals. Stel je voor dat een hele compagnie aan het muiten slaat waardoor een bres in de verdediging ontstaat waar de vijand dan weer kan van profiteren...
Een oorlog voer je nu eenmaal op basis van orde, tucht en discipline !
Toch blijft mijn sympathie uitgaan naar de gewone frontsoldaat die het op een bepaald ogenblik mentaal niet meer aankan en er stilletjes vanonder muist...
Ook zijn niet alle terechtgestelden doetjes geweest...Juist daarom boeien die verhalen me zo, zodat ik zelf kan nagaan of die terechtstellingen al dan niet gerechtvaardigd waren (in mijn ogen dan toch).
Maar een herdenkingskruisje voor het zerk van een veroordeelde wegens moord plaatsen, zoals ik er gisteren eentje gezien heb, zou ik écht niet kunnen...
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BerichtGeplaatst: 03 Mei 2008 1:09    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ergens heb ik wel begrip voor die beslissing van de generaals. Stel je voor dat een hele compagnie aan het muiten slaat waardoor een bres in de verdediging ontstaat waar de vijand dan weer kan van profiteren...
Een oorlog voer je nu eenmaal op basis van orde, tucht en discipline !
Toch blijft mijn sympathie uitgaan naar de gewone frontsoldaat die het op een bepaald ogenblik mentaal niet meer aankan en er stilletjes vanonder muist...
Ook zijn niet alle terechtgestelden doetjes geweest...Juist daarom boeien die verhalen me zo, zodat ik zelf kan nagaan of die terechtstellingen al dan niet gerechtvaardigd waren (in mijn ogen dan toch).
Maar een herdenkingskruisje voor het zerk van een veroordeelde wegens moord plaatsen, zoals ik er gisteren eentje gezien heb, zou ik écht niet kunnen...
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BerichtGeplaatst: 14 Jul 2008 21:34    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Over of er Canadese soldaten in het Franse leger zijn geexecuteerd:

Een lijst van slachtoffers zoals bij de Britten is er voor de Franse geexecuteerden niet. Daar heeft tot nu toe niemand zich aan gewaagd aldus Piet Chielens.

Wel kwam ik het volgend stukje tegen in het boek Worthless Men. Race, eugenics and the death penalty in the British Army during the First World War van Gerard Oram, in het hoofdstuk The final judgement, The role of the commander-in-chief:

Quote:
It's difficult to draw firm conclusions about Haig's treatment of the French speaking Canadians. After the mutinies of 1917, Haig held a low opinion of the fighting abilities of the French soldiers - he was reluctant for the Americans to be attached to the French Army as he believed this was 'waste of valuable troops' - but his feelings about the French-Canadians are unknown. Thirty-five out of the 218 Canadiens sentenced to death (mostly in the Haig era) can be indentified as belonging to French-speaking units. Of these, six were executed (seventeen per cent). However, five of these men were from the same unit: they were executed at the insistence of their own battalion commander.





Wat betreft de vraag of de legerleiding wel een andere keuze had dan executeren. Die hadden ze zeker. Als je kijkt naar de Australiers die niet met de dreiging van executie zaten, die presteerden er niet minder om en de disicpline was er ook niet echt minder. En dat geld ook voor andere legers waar de kans op exucutie veel minder dan bij het Britse leger was. En natuurlijk ook voor het Britse lerger tijdens WO2.
Gerard Oram gaat er in zijn boek Military executions during World War I uitgebreid op in.

Een herdenkingskruisje bij de zerk van een veroordeelde wegens moord. Ik heb ook van de meeste van deze veroordeelden hun verhaal gelezen en in veel gevallen is toch wel vrij duidelijk dat zo iemand door de omstandigheden ineens is doorgedraaid om het zo maar te omschrijven. Dat ze niet echt meer beseften wat ze deden.
En natuurlijk hebben ook deze veroordeelde nabestaanden.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 19 Aug 2008 6:00    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Rewriting History

Over on Fora, the Political Umpire posts from time to time on aspects of the Great War, in which he has a particular interest. Among his posts have been several where he has discussed the issue of those who were executed for cowardice, desertion, and who were given a collective pardon two years ago in Parliament. He didn’t agree with that decision, although I did. I posted several comments about this, and he was kind enough to put up a detailed response to which I am finally responding in turn, hopefully clarifying my own views.

Firstly, a little history. The Umpire’s original posts on this subject were The Past is a Foreign Country (June 2006), Private Farr Again (also June 2006) and Private Farr is Pardoned (August 2006). I read those in reverse order, and my eye was caught by a point in the earliest one:

It is fashionable these days to disdain our forebearers; our ancestors whose world was unimaginably different from our own. Here is another press letter I had published earlier this year in which I sought to stress that well-known saying of LP Hartley in The Go Between which I have adopted as the title for this post.

Trevor Harvey is right to infer that we should not attempt to pass judgment on events in our distant past such as the execution of Pvte Harry Farr for cowardice during the First World War. Already the case has taken up valuable judicial resources, as indeed have other recent reviews of long ago cases such as Derek Bentley, Ruth Ellis and James Hanratty. In all of these cases judicial proceedings only came about because of the accident that each of the deceased had living relatives. We should not expend public resources on cases which turn on that happenstance.

Debating whether the likes of Pvte Farr suffered shell-shock is a matter of interest for medical historians but we should hesitate long and hard before presupposing to pass judgment on events as far removed as the Great War. It is fashionable to dismiss the generals of the day as ‘donkeys’ and to rail against the supposed brutality of shooting for deserters. But it should also be recalled that of all the armies which were involved in the war from the outset, only the British did not suffer a severe collapse of morale at any point as well, of course, as emerging victorious.

What had caught my eye was the point about ‘the British not suffering a severe collapse of morale at any point’ before in a discussion of the same matter on The Times website (I drew the line at registering with The Times in order to respond there), but now I thought that I could well have encountered the original author.

My comment:

The logical conclusion of what you say here is that injustices from the past should not be pursued, nor should judicial resources be wasted, even given the 'accident' of living relatives. We would live in a very sorry society indeed if injustices such as unsolved murders were simply abandoned once they were considered past their 'sell-by date'. The existence or otherwise of living relatives is in one sense irrelevant to the moral proposition you put forward; on the other hand such relatives are surely entitled to have their feelings and hurt considered. "Of all the armies which were involved in the war from the outset, only the British did not suffer a severe collapse of morale at any point" Are you suggesting that what maintained the morale of the British troops was the knowledge that they faced execution if they displayed cowardice? To me, the Home Secretary made exactly the right decision in making no judgement whatever over individual cases, but accepting the likelihood that some executions were unjustified.


The Umpire responded to my comments with a fourth post Mutiny Again where he answered my points thus:
The total number of murders that have been committed is obviously very great indeed. Judicial resources in the present day, as ever, are scarce and very expensive. We cannot possibly investigate every supposed past injustice. Where the convicted person and everyone else involved in the case are dead, and all the surrounding circumstances have vanished, that has to be a very strong reason - albeit not necessarily decisive - against re-opening cases. I appreciate that where there happen to be living descendants, they may feel strongly about the stain on their family history - but there are many present-day people behind bars and facing trial who should have first call on the resources of the state. The fact that some cases in the past involved defendants who have living relatives is the only reason that they are now being investigated; it does not seem to me compelling that that should be so. It might be that wrongly convicted men remain convicted because they lack living relatives; I am not sure that in the grand scheme of things the existence of (say) a great-grand niece should have anything to do whether the state chooses to reopen one old case as opposed to another - or rather, as opposed to not opening old cases at all.

And in response to my query as to the suggestion of a link between morale and executions:

No, not at all. The point related not to the case of Pvte Farr specifically, but to the general context of popular perception of the incompetence and injustice of the First World War as a whole. You may have seen numerous posts I wrote on the Great War last year attempting to set something in the balance against the idea that the Generals were all callous butchers. One of the authors whom I drew upon, Gordon Corrigan, has investigated some of the executions in detail and concluded that it was by no means clear that any injustice had occurred (bearing in mind, among other things, that the death penalty was still in force and still used in those days for civilian murders). And of course a lot of soldiers were sentenced to death but the penalty was not in fact carried out, which goes against the idea that a load of commoners and Irish were being topped as a lesson to the rest. Certainly I was not suggesting that the British army survived due to the threat of execution (the French army had rather more of those and did indeed collapse as an offensive force). Rather I was pointing out that it cannot have been led as badly as the likes of Oh What a Lovely War or Blackadder IV might have one believe.

I commented:
It's almost impossible to know where to begin in responding to this. But I'll offer the following as a starting point: If we don't examine alleged wrongs from the past, we won't learn from them. And if we determine that a wrong has been committed, and it is a wrong that can (at least in part) be righted, aren't we failing in our moral responsibility if we chose not to do so? The greater the wrong, surely the more important that wrong is corrected, if it is within our power to do so? For example, it matters not one jot in 2008 that John Smith was given a parking ticket in 1942, but surely that does not mean that victims of the Holocaust (or their descendants, through the 'accident' of being alive) should be denied justice? Injustices that involve the state taking an innocent life are not casual matters that should simply be cast aside; indeed, it is the mark of a civilised society that it does not do so. Even within the timescale you appear to contemplate, relatives not only suffer the 'accident' of still being alive, but may well have been alive at the time of the event you focus on. It is entirely conceivable that siblings (siblings, not great-grand nieces) of executed soldiers from the Great War may still be alive; where do you place their rights? There is a complex balance to be struck, but I doubt if your rationality would justify the wasting of international military resources (particularly given the current situation) on searching for the corpse of Keith Bennett on Saddleworth Moor. He died 44 years ago; nothing we do now will bring him back, Myra Hindley is long since dead, and there is no prospect of an insane Ian Brady ever being released from Ashworth. So what about Winnie Johnson? Is it no more than an inconvenience that she is 'accidentally' still alive? And does our obligation (society's obligation) to find Keith Bennett's body disappear at the point that his mother dies? Rather the opposite; to the extent that we would have failed Mrs Johnson in her lifetime, our obligation would be all the greater. Is Winnie Johnson the only person to be considered anyway? What obligation do we have (for example) to the jurors who had to listen to those appalling tapes? Or to their children, who saw a parent irretrievably scarred by what they had heard? It's true I know, there are terrible cases involving children who are still living, children we have some hope of saving. But I very much doubt if your humanity would allow you to tell Winnie Johnson that there are more important priorities than finding her son, let alone that you believe the use of public resources in that search to be wrong. Moral judgements are absolute, however much we recognise that attitudes have changed with the passage of time. If homophobia is wrong now (and we both agree it is) it was wrong fifty years ago. How much more so the loss of an innocent life at the hands of the state.

And the Umpire responded with a final post Alleged Past Injustices Again:

Regular commentator Stephen of It's a rough trade, politics and I have had a disagreement on the pardoning of WWI soldiers shot for cowardice or desertion. I have done a few posts and comments on the subject, but given the vehemence of Stephen’s disagreement (unusual, as he has already observed), I thought I would attempt to set out my position in slightly greater length. Also some of the comments I have made have been rather sloppy, and this post therefore constitutes a tidying-up effort.

Of course in principle righting historical wrongs seems a worthy cause, but matters are not that simple.

The first question which might arise is whether we should be investigating past injustices when the victims and the convicted person are long since dead and the circumstances under which the offending arose have long since vanished. None of the officers who charged, prosecuted, convicted and executed soldiers are still alive, and the events took place over ninety years ago in a Europe that has changed out of all recognition as has the British army.

Two obvious points flow from that: first, it would be an expensive use of scarce judicial and other public resources to investigate any of the more than 300 executions. It is my belief that those resources should concentrate on resolving present-day crimes; the judicial system is straining to cope as it is. It is not unusual for a person charged with murder to be remanded in custody for a year or more awaiting trial. Many people currently serving life imprisonment think they have a case to be reviewed; their cases should logically have priority.

Secondly, with no witnesses left alive and all records nearly a century old, the chances of us being able to be confident in reviewing past cases has to be correspondingly low. That has to be a factor to be taken into account when deciding how to distribute the inevitably overworked resources of the judicial system.

At this point I should counter a red herring that Stephen raised in a comment. He writes impassionately, and unarguably, that we retain a duty to find the body of Keith Bennett on Saddleworth Moor, a victim of the Moors murderers. I agree. But that is not raking over the past to satisfy our changed morals and ideas; it is solving an unsolved case. It bears no relation to reinvestigating and judging what our forefathers did when they thought they were doing the right thing by the actions of the time. Of course if a dead child of a living parent has not been found we should continue the search.

There is a further distinction of importance. Some past convictions we would now denounce as we disagree that they involved a crime at all; homosexuality between consenting adults being a quintessential example. I would have no problem for a retrospective pardon in those cases. But the Shot at Dawn campaign concerned men who were tried for cowardice in the face of the enemy or desertion or similar offences; these remain crimes to this day. The objection has to be either to the conviction of individual defendants or the imposition of the death penalty, not to the crime itself with which they were charged. I accept that the state could declare that all those executed should have had a different punishment, although by abolishing the death penalty in toto it has implicitly already done this. But the fact of the death penalty is not sufficient to conclude there was particular injustice in the shot at dawn cases, since that was the standard punishment for murder and some other civilian crimes in Britain at the time.

It is, moreover, not as if the 306 executions* were the only occasions in which the judicial and/or military system of 1910s might have produced a different result to what would obtain in comparable circumstances under today’s mores. I am sure many died in industrial accidents, for example, that would have resulted in severe punishment of their employers nowadays.** None of these potential injustices have been investigated nor is there any suggestion that they should. I remain unpersuaded about the reasons why we should choose the shot at dawn campaign and ignore the rest - particularly those found guilty of transgressions during wartime but received lesser penalties. Their reputations would have been stained just as would those executed. The mere fact that approximately 3,000 death sentences were passed but only about 10% carried out indicates that the story is more complex than brutal officers ruthlessly and cruelly executing the innocent merely as an example to the rest.

World War II provides examples of other potential injustices, such as those whose farms were confiscated for failing to meet production targets. Had that been wrongly done, it would have been a wrong with direct economic as well as other consequences for persons still alive today.


Des Browne, the Defence Secretary who pardoned the executed, reasoned thus:

"I believe a group pardon, approved by Parliament, is the best way to deal with this. After 90 years, the evidence just doesn't exist to assess all the cases individually.

"I do not want to second guess the decisions made by commanders in the field, who were doing their best to apply the rules and standards of the time. "But the circumstances were terrible, and I believe it is better to acknowledge that injustices were clearly done in some cases, even if we cannot say which - and to acknowledge that all these men were victims of war."

But 'second guessing the decisions made by commanders in the field, who were doing their best to apply the rules and standards of the time' is indeed the very thing Mr Browne has done. And in so doing he has brushed aside one potential injustice and replaced it with another - a slur on the officers who dutifully and in good faith conducted courts martial in the way they thought best, and a pardon for some soldiers who may not have been deserving. It is not clear that all of the executed were in fact innocent; in an army of millions it would be astonishing if there were in fact no deserters or cowards whatsoever.

The report from which the above quotation is taken also includes the following, with which I agree:

Correlli Barnett, a military historian, said last night that the mass posthumous pardon was "pointless" after all these years. "These were decisions taken in the heat of a war when the commanders' primary duty was to keep the Army together and to keep it fighting. They were therefore decisions taken from a different moral perspective," he said.

"For the people of this generation to come along and second-guess decisions taken then is wrong.

"It was done in a particular historical setting and in a particular moral and social climate. It's pointless to give these pardons. What's the use of a posthumous pardon?"

Those who were shot for cowardice or desertion were by and large treated fairly, according to the standards of the time, he added.

Indeed, as I pointed out before, Gordon Corrigan's investigations show that it is not at all clear that there was a litany of injustices committed, to the extent that surviving records enable us to judge. Even if we did find procedural faults with the courts martial, that is not the same as finding that the executed were in fact innocent. This is the point which is key to the misunderstanding and misinformation put about by the press in the wake of the quashing of the conviction of Derek Bentley some time ago. He was not, contrary to the screaming headlines, declared 'innocent'. All that was found was that there were defects in the trial judge's summing up: a common enough occurrence that routinely leads to convictions being quashed and new trials ordered. If Bentley was alive today that is precisely what would have happened - a retrial.

The point about Bentley is made in this article by Francis Bennion, with which I agree. Its conclusion is apposite for this post as well:

Our generation needs to be reminded of that pregnant saying of L P Hartley's in The Go-Between. The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. Or to put it even more succinctly: you can't change history, and you shouldn't even try.

We can - and should, indeed must - learn from history; we can in so doing debate whether things were done right or wrong in the past. But official rewriting is another matter. Niall Ferguson is a professional historian of a similar view:

Retrospectively pardoning First World War deserters, then, is as empty a gesture as retrospectively condemning Second World War conscripts. Harry Farr and Günter Grass were simply two tiny cogs in the monstrous mincing machines of total war. That is why the real question children should ask of veterans is not "What did you do in the war, daddy?" but "What did the war do to you?"

* From the Ferguson article: 266 British and colonial soldiers were shot for desertion, 18 for cowardice, seven for quitting their posts and two for casting away their arms: 293 in all. The other executions were for offences of a different nature, such as murder.

** Ferguson again: "If you are against the death penalty in principle, you may well ask why a few hundred Tommies have been singled out to be pardoned. Many of the crimes for which young men were hanged in the 18th century, for example, were mere petty thefts. Today, most such young offenders would face nothing more painful than a caution or an anti-social behaviour order. Shouldn't we pardon the hanged sheep-stealers while we are about it?" Of course if it was purely the death penalty that was the objection, then a pardon would be inappropriate; a lesser sentence would be formally passed, for all the good it would do.

Coda: From Wikipedia: It seems I was misinformed to an extent:

The pardon was enacted in the Armed Forces Act 2006 which came into effect on 8 November 2006. However section 359(4) of the Act states that the pardon "does not affect any conviction or sentence." Since the nature of a pardon is normally to quash a conviction or to commute a sentence, Gerald Howarth MP asked during parliamentary debate: "we are entitled to ask what it does do."[2] It would appear to be a symbolic pardon only, and some members of Parliament had called for the convictions to be quashed, although the pardon has still been welcomed by relatives of executed soldiers.[3]

What was the point of all that then?

Enough history.


I'm going to do my best to pick off the main points here as far as I am able in some sort of rational sequence. The first two are interlinked. Should we be pursuing cases from so long ago in our distant past, and is it right that doing so is dependent on the existence of living relatives?

It depends of course what you mean by our distant past. What is distant to a youthful Umpire is by no means so distant to those of us who are of more advanced years. However, neither the cases of Private Farr nor Derek Bentley were pursued by distant relatives "(say) a great-grand niece" several generations hence; Private Farr's case was at the behest of his daughter Gertrude, who was born two years before the start of the Great War. Derek Bentley's sister Iris was the one who campaigned to have his conviction overturned (assisted by her daughter), although of course she died shortly before it was. In both these cases it seems wrong to complain about the 'accident' that the relatives are still alive, as if it were some unfortunate inconvenience. Given that those executed are unable to argue their cause further, it is neither surprising nor wrong that relatives who feel that there has been an injustice should do so on their behalf. If Derek Bentley had been imprisoned, he would almost certainly have been alive (aged 65) at the time his conviction was quashed in 1998. But of course if he had been jailed he would long since have been released anyway.

In another post, Harry Partch and the unheralded victories in the Great War the Umpire asks why the only names etched into the public conscience are those of the defeats, or stalemates, or seemingly pyrrhic victories for the allies: the likes of Loos, Verdun, Gallipoli, the Somme, Passchendale and Ypres. His conclusion: I suspect, however, that the main reason is that the Second World War, just two decades later, began more or less as a reprise of the First. That he needs to ponder the question at all shows that he views the Great War as 'history' and of course it is for the young. But those names were etched into the public conscience well before the start of the Second World War and the evidence for that is easy to find; the War Memorials that seem to permeate Britain were almost without exception erected at the conclusion of the Great War, and it is out of respect for those who gave their lives that rather than celebrating victory we choose to remember where so many died. The names etched into the public conscience from the Second World War are even more grim. Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Hiroshima, Nagasaki.
There is an issue of proportionality to all this. In time, historians will mark little more than our success in winning the First World War, and possibly even the Second, but it is to be hoped not; more important surely to remember the Holocaust and man's terrible capacity for evil. Regardless of the outcome of Private Farr's case, it is likely that his death would have ceased to be an issue before too long since all those directly affected would indeed be dead; but they're not, and it isn't mere history to them.

Is it appropriate to pardon people long dead merely on the basis that they received what is now regarded as an excessive sentence, but wasn't at the time? It can be. A pardon isn't a way of saying that someone was innocent of the crime that they were charged with; sometimes they clearly weren't. A pardon is an expression of forgiveness which provides a sense of closure to those such as Gertrude Harris who felt her father was wronged.

The case of Timothy Evans is probably relevant. Hanged for a murder he didn't commit, but initially denied even a pardon since whereas no jury would have found Evans guilty in the light of what later became known there was no certainty of Evans' innocence (R A Butler). Correlli Barnett would presumably not even have considered whether there was certainty or not, given the pointless nature of a posthumous pardon anyway. Thankfully Roy Jenkins was of a different mind. But a pardon doesn't quash a conviction and Timothy Evans remains convicted of the murder of his daughter. Mary Westlake (his half-sister) has campaigned to get that conviction quashed, but her court case ended when the judges, while acknowledging that Evans was entirely innocent, took the same line as the Umpire and said that the cost and resources of quashing the conviction could not be justified. Personally, I'd have thought it better justice if the judges concerned had just got on and quashed the conviction there and then given all the circumstances.

Derek Bentley's conviction was quashed of course, and since his execution has precluded any possibility of a retrial I think it's important to remember that a man is innocent until proved guilty. Francis Bennion's article however raises interesting points well outside the scope of this discussion, so maybe I'll address those elsewhere in the fullness of time.

If there's a shortage of judicial resources I would prefer to look first at the call on those resources made by the wealthy. I'd far rather see a court quashing the conviction of Timothy Evans than preoccupying itself deciding whether Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones had been hard done by because their wedding pics had ended up in the wrong celebrity mag. And that brings us back to the collective pardon for those executed in the Great War. Des Browne agreed entirely with the Umpire that judicial resources were better devoted to other matters. Parliament agreed with him. History has not been rewritten, but we have forgiven the men who were executed. That's the point.

Voor het verdere commentaar:
http://bunchofcrooks.blogspot.com/2008/08/rewriting-history.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 19 Aug 2008 21:58    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote


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BerichtGeplaatst: 08 Feb 2009 8:26    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

shot at dawn
a requiem for the twentieth century


On April 1st, 1918, the Toronto Evening Telegram informed its readers that Private H. Edward Lodge had been killed in action in Europe the previous month. April fools. In fact, Pte. Lodge had been executed by his own army for desertion.

This is pretty much all in know about Harold Edward James Lodge:

He joined the army from Toronto age 18. He fought in the trenches. He was wounded in 1915. He didn't want to die in the mud at Passchendaele. He asked for leave but was refused. November 3, 1917 he broke ranks regardless and went to ground. He was caught. He escaped a second time. He was caught again. He escaped a third time. He was caught again, tried, sentenced to death and shot at dawn on March 13 1918, age 21. My kind of war hero.
___

From the killing fields of the First World War rose the Second. From the deportations and massacres of 1914-1918 came the concentration camps and genocide of 1939-1945. In many ways, the Great War and its hell disaster of male leadership sealed the fate of the twentieth century – shot at dawn.

The Great War conjures up images of wholesale slaughter and the insanity of trench warfare. On some of its bloodiest days, tens of thousands of men would kill and wound each other in the space of an afternoon. Yet some of those men would survive only to be killed by their own armies. Shot at dawn -- for desertion, cowardice and other high crimes -- crimes judged capital by the same authorities that had presided over the slaughter on the battlefield, a slaughter that these men had decided, for whatever reason, to reject.

Blog om te volgen:
http://marcbrz.blogspot.com/2009/02/shot-at-dawn-requiem-for-twentieth.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 27 Feb 2009 8:52    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Shot soldier added to honour roll

A soldier who was executed during World War I is to have his name added to his home town's roll of honour.

Pte James Smith, of Bolton, Greater Manchester, was shot for desertion in 1917 despite suffering from shellshock at the time.

Historians later found he had earlier been buried alive in an explosion and he was one of a number of soldiers pardoned by the government in 2006.

Bolton Council has now voted to place him on the town's roll of honour.

The decision on Wednesday marked the culmination of a campaign local resident Charles Sandham, whose grandmother was Pte Smith's niece.

Gallipoli battle

He told the BBC: "James was actually pardoned a few years ago. He wasn't a coward. He wasn't a criminal.

"There is absolutely no reason why his name should not be up on the roll of honour."

Pte Smith enlisted into the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in 1910 at the age of 19 in a bid to escape poverty.

His horrific war experiences included a landing battle on W beach at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, a battle which resulted in six of his comrades being awarded the Victoria Cross.

Later in France he almost lost his life on the Somme when a German artillery attack buried him alive.

Despite his rescue, he was left in a poor mental and physical state and later suffered a breakdown while stationed in Ypres, France.

Publicity campaign

Pte Smith was later court martialled three times for breaches of discipline in 1916 and 1917. In the final incident he was accused of desertion, put on trial and executed on 5 September 1917.

Names of executed World War I soldiers were never added to memorials but more than 300, including Pte Smith, were pardoned by the government in 2006.

Mr Sandham had requested that Bolton Council add Pte Smith's name to the local roll of honour in light of his pardon.

The council is also to undertake a publicity campaign to establish if the names of any other local soldiers should be added.

© http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/manchester/7910053.stm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 25 Mrt 2009 12:55    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Hallo,

Is er iemand die mij kan helpen met het volgende:
Ik ben op zoek naar de namen van Amerikaanse Soldaten die geëxecuteerd werden tijdens WO1.
Op het Internet vind ik hier niks van, heb ook al enkele boeken na gelezen, maar ik vind niks.

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BerichtGeplaatst: 25 Mrt 2009 14:35    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

woodhatcher @ 25 Mrt 2009 12:55 schreef:
Hallo,

Is er iemand die mij kan helpen met het volgende:
Ik ben op zoek naar de namen van Amerikaanse Soldaten die geëxecuteerd werden tijdens WO1.
Op het Internet vind ik hier niks van, heb ook al enkele boeken na gelezen, maar ik vind niks.

Mvg Vincent


Ik heb hier (nog) geen namen van Amerikaanse SAD slachtoffers maar ik zal eens navraag voor je doen.

Greetz, Margreet
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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Mei 2009 17:16    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Shot at Down!
Private Frederik Broadrick (17402) van de 11th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Wegens desertie op 01/08/1917. Hij rust in Plot II, rij J, graf 24 op het Dranoutre Military Cemetery.




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BerichtGeplaatst: 25 Okt 2009 16:40    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Enkele gevondne aan de Somme. Ik zag dat er ook enkele liggen nabij mijn deur. Ga ik eens straks knallen.


Links: Harry MacDonald - desertion
Rechts: Frederick Martin Barrat - desertion.


James Crozier - Moord


Links: J.E. McCracken - desertion.
Rechts: J. Templeton - desertion.
beiden liggen naast elkaar op de Mailly-Mallet Communal Cemetery.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 25 Okt 2009 17:25    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Nog meer.... Vers van de pers. White House Cemetery (Sint-Jan - Ieper)



Herbert H. Chase - lafaard.


Links: R. Gawler - desertion.
Rechts: Alfred Eveleigh - desertion.


William J. Turpie - desertion
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Okt 2009 19:41    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Perth (China Wall) Cemetery


George Ernest Roe - desertion


Thomas Harris - desertion.


Thomas Decherty - desertion


Frederick Ives - desertion


Ernest Fellows - desertion


Evan Fraser - desertion


Louis Phillips - desertion
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Okt 2009 19:48    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Aeroplane Cemetery


Alfred Thompson - desertion


John Robinson - desertion


Bert Hartells (de enige in de CWGC database met de familinaam Hartells!) - desertion.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 27 Okt 2009 17:43    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Bedford House.



Desertion
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BerichtGeplaatst: 27 Okt 2009 19:59    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Quote:



James Crozier - Moord



De 18 jarige James Crozier werd niet voor moord geëxecuteerd maar voor desertion.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 27 Okt 2009 20:06    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

mrs Stan @ 27 Okt 2009 19:59 schreef:
Quote:

James Crozier - Moord



De 18 jarige James Crozier werd niet voor moord geëxecuteerd maar voor desertion.


Kleine test of je nog wakker bent. Embarassed Laughing
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BerichtGeplaatst: 31 Okt 2009 16:06    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Menenpoort



William Scotton - Desertion
(9de naam in de linker kolom)
Vind ik raar beschreven. "His brother, Albert also fell". Dus net of ze willen zeggen dat William sneuvelde in strijd? Want hij viel? Terwijl hij wel werd gedeserteerd.


George Povey - Verliet zijn post.
(10de naam in de rechter kolom)


Thomas Moore - Moord
(8st naam in de Driver kolom rechts)
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BerichtGeplaatst: 31 Okt 2009 17:22    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Quote:
William Scotton - Desertion
(9de naam in de linker kolom)
Vind ik raar beschreven. "His brother, Albert also fell". Dus net of ze willen zeggen dat William sneuvelde in strijd? Want hij viel? Terwijl hij wel werd gedeserteerd.


Het was de gewoonte om de ware doodsoorzaak niet te vermelden, maar aan te geven als gesneuveld of died of wounds.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Nov 2009 15:39    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Meer Menenpoort


De 17 jarige Herbert Burden, geëxecuteerd voor desertie, werd decennia lang nergens herdacht. Enkele jaren geleden is zijn naam op speciaal verzoek op de Menen Poort geplaatst.
En staat hij centraal in deze memorial:
http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?t=15623&highlight=herbert+burden+memorial+arboretum
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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Nov 2009 15:43    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ga ik toevoegen aan mijn lijstje. Surprised
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BerichtGeplaatst: 25 Dec 2009 22:39    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Cosmo Clark (b.1897; d.1967)

'The distinguished British artist' John Cosmo Clark published his war correspondence from the First World War, when he was involved in the trial of a British soldier which ended with the latter's execution. Captain Clark was the 'prisoner's friend' who represented Stevenson who faced court martial.
'Clark later became a distinguished artist but he was wholly unqualified'. His sketches 'remind us of war's humanity: shell-shocked faces, the wounded on stretchers, the boredom of waiting, the joys of a cigarette, the generosity of townspeople'. Cosmo Clark was a Royal Academician, married to Jean Clark. Both were members of the New English Art Club Watercolour Society. Both were prolific artists, with Cosmo finding time to make sketches whilst soldiering in France in the First World War. Several paintings of both of them were to be sold in aid of The Bishop's Lent Call in 2003. 'Cosmo Clark painted a portrait of T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and achieved his greatest success with a series of London pub paintings, during' the Second World War.
See

Clark, Cosmo, The Tin Trunk - Letters and Drawings 1914-1918, 2000
Bankside Gallery, Retrospective Exhibition, Cosmo Clark 1897-1967, Jean Clark, 1902, 1983

http://www.ww2poster.co.uk/artists/ClarkC.htm

En over het boek:
http://astore.amazon.co.uk/britishomefro-21/detail/0953979903
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2009 14:31    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Knap onderwerp,
ik heb eens ergens gelezen dat er in de westhoek maar 1 graf is van geëxecuteerde soldaten waarop op de steen de woorden "Shot at Dawn" opstaan, klopt dit?

Groeten, Davy
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2009 18:24    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Er is inderdaad maar één Shot at Dawn slachtoffer, private Albert Ingham, bij wie op zijn graf vermeld staat dat hij is geëxecuteerd. Zijn vader heeft, toen hij achter de ware toedracht van het overlijden van zijn zoon kwam, de volgende tekst tekst op de headstone laten plaatsen:
Shot at dawn - one of the first to enlist - a worthy son of his father
Het graf bevind zich op Bailleulmont Communal Cemetery (Frankrijk), row B graf nummer 12. Op deze begraafplaats bevinden zich nog 3 andere graven van geëxecuteerden.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2009 18:55    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Bedankt mrs Stan.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jan 2010 15:14    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://firstworldwar.cloudworth.com/cowards-executed-war.php

("First World War in the News is an edited review of hand-picked World War I 1914-1918 articles.")
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Percy Toplis



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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jan 2010 15:25    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Pardons wrong, Haig's son says

September 5, 2006

The son of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the First World War commander, has attacked the Government’s move to pardon more than 300 men who were executed for military offences during the conflict.
George Haig, 88, a former Colditz PoW, whose father signed a number of the death warrants, said many of those executed were “rogues” and “criminals” who deserved to be shot.

Ministers announced last month their intention to put before Parliament a statutory group pardon for all soldiers who faced firing squads for cowardice during the First World War. If passed by Parliament, the proposal will be included in the Armed Forces Bill.

The Second Earl Haig, from Melrose, in the Scottish Borders, said: “It was a terribly sad situation and some of these soldiers were genuinely shell-shocked.” He added: “I know my father took enormous trouble to consider the merits of each case before authorising any execution.”

The Government’s decision to pardon the executed men followed a campaign by the relatives of Private Harry Farr, who was shot for cowardice.

Bron: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article628413.ece
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Percy Toplis



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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jan 2010 15:47    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Disaster of the Somme led to Haig's order to shoot more officers for cowardice rather than send them home to recuperate

Aug 19 2006 Rin Simpson, Western Mail

Shot at Dawn, the group campaigning for the "mercy of a pardon" for the 306 soldiers executed for alleged cowardice and desertion during World War I, paints a grim backdrop to Edwin Dyett's death

"Nearly 350 British and Commonwealth soldiers were executed by firing squad during the First World War. Only three officers suffered a similar fate, one of which was for murder. Of the two who were tried for desertion, the case of Edwin Dyett in particular cries out for justice.

"Expressions of disquiet by rank-and-file soldiers, who wondered why cowardice and desertion were confined to the lower ranks, may have unwittingly prompted the top brass to look for a scapegoat among their own. Was Dyett unlucky enough to have been a naval, rather than an Army officer?

"In October 1916, in the aftermath of the disastrous Somme offensive (60,000 men killed, wounded or missing in one day), Field Marshall Haig ordered that more officers be shot for cowardice, rather than be sent home for rest and recuperation in the cosy bosom of their family.

"This evidence, only recently discovered, demonstrates his misguided preoccupation with extreme measures to suppress fear and panic among the officer class. His sentiments quickly became dramatic reality with the imminent executions of Second Lieutenant Eric Skeffington Poole and Sub-Lieutenant Dyett.

"Quite remarkably, thereafter and for the rest of the war, Haig's orders appeared to have been totally ignored. For the rank-and-file, however, their precarious situation remained unabated."

From www.shotatdawn.org.uk

Bron: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/tm_objectid=17588379&method=full&siteid=50082&headline=disaster-of-the-somme-led-to-haig-s-order-to-shoot-more-officers-for-cowardice-rather-than-send-them-home-t-name_page.html
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mrs Stan



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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jan 2010 19:56    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Quote:
www.shotatdawn.org.uk


De huidige link:
http://www.shotatdawn.info/
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"Those boys were lions led by donkeys" quoted by our friend Mike about the victims of shot at dawn
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Percy Toplis



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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jan 2010 21:46    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Sorry, mrs Stan. Dat heb je met 'oude' artikelen... Cool
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