Firing squad drill

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by stoatman, May 7, 2008.

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  1. All the talk of a coup in the intelligence cell has got my twisted little mind thinking. Every time I have seen a British or Commonwealth firing squad depicted in film or television, the procedure has been carried out differently.

    Was the procedure standardised in the drill manuals, or was it ad libbed by the officer in charge? If it was standardised, who was present, and what was the procedure?

    I know this is a rather specialised and morbid part of military history, but I think it is interesting nonetheless.
  2. Due to the pruning of the defence budget I have an economic idea for firing squad drill which I intend to use on those responsible.

  3. What about the Target I trust they had an appropriate way to die can't have them slovenly sloaching over and groaning, then bleeding every where. This is the British Army we do have some standards
  4. They were run by Assistant Provost Marshals. Look up WW1 history and you should find something about it. If not watch more Blackadder...
  5. Loading one rifle with blanks was the old way of doing it as well, so each soldier could say that they hadn't fired the fatal shot.
  6. Ah'm a gabbler, me. Ah just can't help meself.

  7. That's one I've always doubted -- even in the heat and stress of the moment, you would know the difference.

    I would also assume that the firing squad would receive the commands "load" and "ready", rather than being passed preloaded rifles . One film depiction of the execution by Australians of a Japanese war criminal certainly included these commands.
  8. Pretty sure you'd know if there was recoil or not.
  9. cpunk

    cpunk LE Moderator

    It varied in format. Normally a squad of 8-12 from the condemned man's unit, commanded by an officer who would fire a 'coup de grace' into the victim's head after the first volley had been fired. Usually it was done more or less privately, but on occasions - usually when there was a perceived disciplinary problem in the unit - the condemned man's battalion was formed up to watch and every now and again, representative sub-units from the whole brigade or division were formed up.

    There's a good discussion of how it was done in Judge Anthony Babington's 'For the Sake of Example'.
  10. I've always assumed (if the blank thing is actually true) that it was to allow members of the firing squad to believe up to the point of pulling the trigger that there was a chance they were not going to be the one who shot the guy. This assumes pre-loaded rifles.

    The Army being the Army the correct procedure must be documented somewhere.

  11. So it would seem that there was no Laid Down Procedure for the Execution of Troops in the field by Firing Squad.
    The Official Hangman did however attend a Training Course, at a prison, then acted as No. 2 on several executions, before caring out the task as Hangman.
  12. Double post elininated - Sorry.
    I am a bit tired
  13. A few years ago a newspaper here in Boston had an interesting interview with an old man who lived just north of Boston. He was the hangman who hung the Nuremburg war crimilnals. He had been a Sgt. in the MP's and assigned as a hangman.

    I mention this as he described material he had received from the British which had a chart involving body weight, neck size etc to calculate the slack left for the drop to ensure the neck breaks but the head does not come off (very messy). Apparently the US did not have a written procedure at the time.

    The reporter asked if he had any regrets and he said he had none and described how evil the NAZI leaders were.

    If any of you find such a chart maybe you could send a copy to the Iragi's as they seem to need technical assistance.
  14. I would guess that it would be 'normal' foot/rifle drill right up to the the point where 'Ready, aim, FIRE' was given.

    I seem to recall Edward Heath had the dubious honour of commanding a firing squad as a Gunner officer, bet he often wished it was Maggie...