Have these people nothing better to do with their time? He was, according to a very senior Australian officer of the time 'a scoundrel who, if he hadn't been shot for that, would have been shot for something else'
Buggered if I can remember who said it. Not to worry, I shall simply type the word 'chippymick', thus summoning the man himself, who, I am certain, has set up a filter to alert him whenever someone mentions his name on ARRSE.
All very subjective stuff guys (& gals) re: Harry Morant. Probably gets the rounds at ADFA (Australian Defence Forces Academy) and RMC - Duntroon as a lesson in leadership for the trainee Ruperts. Or, as it usually happens, gets dragged up by some Lawyer on a crusade, and throw in Ned Kelly for good measure and sure as shit it makes the news.
From what I read the other day a descendant of the lawyer who represented the three at their court martial has supposedly unearthed some evidence that suggests there was an order from Kitchener not to take prisoners. In addition he argues that the men were denied procedural fairness at the time.
This last point is most certainly true. The way the board was convened and the haste in which it heard the matter was in contravention of procedural rules which were in force at the time. This is not applying a modern slant to an old matter. Further, the three had a right to have the recommendation made by the court martial for mercy to be decided by Kitchener. This was effectively denied by the decision to carry out the executions before Kitchener could decide.
However, it is water long gone under the bridge and nothing is to be achieved by dragging the whole matter up again. The executions had far-reaching effect for Australian troops serving overseas which was a greater result than any pardon would achieve.
Another chapter in the remarkable story of Harry 'Breaker' Morant is being created at the Queensland cattle stations and in the country towns where he first earned his colourful reputation.For the past week, a Sydney-based production company has been filming scenes in Charters Towers in north Queensland for a new two-part television documentary, Breaker Morant: The Retrial. It sets out to explain the conspiracy behind the execution of Morant and Peter Handcock by the British army during the Boer War, which ran from 1899 to 1902 in South Africa. The incident is regarded as Australia's longest standing military controversy. Morant and Handcock were members of a special unit - the Bushveldt Carbineers - whose brief was to operate long-range patrols to hunt down and destroy Boer guerrilla units and prevent them from blowing up trains. The pair were convicted by a closed military trial for shooting Boer prisoners and were executed by firing squad on February 27, 1902 in Pietersburg in Northern Transvaal.
[h=2]New evidence[/h]One of the new film's directors, Nick Bleszynski, wrote a book 10 years ago called Shoot Straight You Bastards, a reference to Morant's last words to the firing squad. Mr Bleszynski argues the Australians had been made scapegoats by the British who denied their commander-in-chief Lord Kitchener had ever issued an order that no prisoners should be taken alive. The new documentary claims to have new and compelling legal and historical evidence that such orders did exist, and there were serious procedural errors in the military legal process from start to finish, which conspired to deny the Australians justice. Morant, this time played by Auckland-born actor Benedict Wall, once again rode back into Charter Towers today. The town's main street looks much the way it would have back in 1900. Work crews from the local council have dumped truckloads of dirt in Gill Street and set designers have switched the hoardings on shops and offices to try and recapture the period. About 50 locals have been recruited as extras along with two members of an historical mounted regiment from Brisbane with their Waler horses.
Disclaimer: If I'm to nail my colours to the mast, as previously stated, Breaker Morant, and Peter Handcock were tried under the (dodgy) military court of the day. Was it a fair Courts Martial, if we are to apply today's insecurities of modern society? A resounding no, however, it was conducted in a time and place far removed from today. Let it stand as such.
Some recent updates in this curious case of seeking a pardon 100 years too late:
The second petition was considered by the House of Representatives' Petitions Committee at a public hearing on Monday, 15 March 2010. Unkles appeared before the committee, along with others, including the historian Craig Wilcox. On Monday, 27 February 2012, in a speech delivered to the House of Representatives on the 110-year anniversary of the sentencing of the three men, Alex Hawke, M.P. described the case for the pardons as "strong and compelling".
In May 2012, Attorney General Nicola Roxon informed Unkles that the Australian Government would not seek a pardon for Morant from the British Government, on the grounds that Morant, Handcock and Witton did, in fact, kill unarmed Boer prisoners and others