Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Run_Charlie!, Mar 27, 2006.
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Hard to imagine our political masters ever thought this way!
I am not sure that these soldiers should be pardoned. It smacks of re-writing history for the sake of polictcal correctness.
I am sure that today most of them would not be convicted, but that does not mean that history should be changed. They were judged and we should not second guess people for applying the standards of the time at that time.
I find myself agreeing with Inf/MP. If a law/set of standards changes, we can't go back and arrest people for doing something before the law changed. Equally we can't pardon people for the same reasons. At the time it was a crime punishable by death.
I agree that it it sad that these young men were executed for their 'crime', but that was the rule at the time. Nowadays we understand much more about Shell Shock/Battle Shock/PTSD and the soldieers would be offered help instead of a bullet. Times change.
Where I live, I am surrounded by WW1 cemetries and there are many graves of soldiers shot at dawn. Without doubt, some were shot for crimes that would be laughed at today! However, there were also soldiers who deserved to be shot! In one cemetry nearby, there is a soldier, who raped a local woman and then shot his way out, killing 2 of his own regiment, trying to bring him to book. There were also several murderers, who got their just rewards. Maybe a pardon for some, but not all! There is an organisation, attempting to get a pardon, for all SAD cases.
The offences - and let's be in no doubt, desertion, asleep at post etc were offences then - were known to the troops as wrong. There were many who sustained stress who did not run away. Whilst there is a basis for the current day idea that it was not justified to shoot them, it remains that not much concern was paid to the executions at the time. We devalue those who stayed if we change the rules now.
There was an identical case about a year ago. They upheld the origional decision, so lets hope that they do the same here.
OldRedCap: The argument they are using is that they were suffering from shellshock, not cowardice. It was just not recognised as such, back then. Don't be too swift to judge, without the facts
This has been covered in another thread, but I do believe that this shoudln't happen. And at the end of the day, what good does it serve, its not going to bring them back. And you can't really give a true reprieve as you don't have any real evidence, you can only guess that they might have been suffering (but chances are most people were and not everybody was executed).
Its harsh, but i think the families need to move on with their lives, its hard to imagine that it leaves a mark of discrase on people today. Its not like when you meet someone that upon hearing their name you immediatly say "oh gour great grandad was such and such, he was executed, your family is a discrace!".
'Shell shock' was certainly recognised during the First World War and was accepted as a mitigating factor in many capital courts-martial and, in any case, only around 10% of those sentenced to death for military offences were actually executed. Having looked at a few of the surviving WW1 courts martial files, one factor is that they are often very scanty - it's simply impossible to know with any degree of certainty what evidence was introduced at the c-m's. I think that we should rightly recognise that executing soldiers for those kinds of military offences: cowardice, casting away arms etc, was probably not a good thing, by the standards of the time, it was simply the way things were done and nothing we can do now will change that.
Exactly, without the proper facts no pardon can be given.
If this is the case, it must be made precedent that no cases be pardoned unless a wealth of evidence is presented.
Harsh but fair...
Just another effect of the way things are viewed. Back then, desertion led to risk of death at dawn. Stress was not a factor (although you can drag in the red herring of officers who were sent home because of battle fatigue - but then, they were poets) then. Blokes now might line up at medics rather than fail in their duty. Back then, it was not an option. So far as it is possible to get the facts from reading the two main books on the subject and general reading of the lives of the brutal and licentious I think I am well informed.
Pass no comment but have a look at the stats:
Haig was not too please that the Australia had the final word & not him, hence 121 Australians were sentenced to death but the British Army Act was not the final authority:
It's a pity the 'pardonists' don't have as much sympathy for the other 5 million British servicemen, hundreds of thousands of whom were teenagers, who underwent exactly the same thing yet somehow stuck by their mates.
Well if we are going to be pardoning this guy then I have another couple of hundred people who need pardoning.
Everyone who was executed for pickpocketing, burglary, horse theft, shoplifting, forgery etc etc.
Read Mud, Blood and Poppycock by Gordon Gorrigan for a very good account og how good the Court Martial system was, also bear in mind that of over 2000 death sentences awarded, only a little over 200 were carried out. the checks and ballances in place at the time were adequate. Not how we do things now, but the times were very different then.
Edited for spelling
Let the poor men rest in peace (and thank our lucky stars that for the most part nowadays, punishments are in proportion to the crime)
Separate names with a comma.