Photos that make you think.

A minor amendment - I hope you approve.

On all other counts I agree wholeheartedly with your commentary.

The 'Shot At Dawn' movement have embedded a gross exaggeration in the national understanding of the Great War, and it is treated uncritically as factual, even in the skule syllabus.

It focusses on the total number of death sentences that were handed out (from memory something like 3K) and proceeds on the assumption that every single one was carried out.

The fact is that the 'cruel/ heartless' senior officers who were obliged to review such sentences reduced 9 out of 10 of them to lesser penalties. Actual executions by firing squad numbered around 300.

Given that in the 4¼ years of British involvement in the war, some 3,000,000 men served in the British army then simple arithmetic leads to the fact that only about 0.01% of those who served (that's just 1 soldier in 10,000) was executed, and the likelihood of others being required to take part in, or spectate at their executions was not very great.

It also overlooks the fact that the officers and men who did the fighting do not appear to have thought the punishment itself (let alone its frequency) to have been either unjustified or in any way disproportionate.

The rest of the WW1/ Lions & Donkeys myth completely overlooks the enormous changes, the adaptations, innovations and inventions that all ranks were responsible for enacting or employing during its course, as well as the fact that - off all the major combatants engaged throughout the fighting on the Western Front - the British Army was the only one whose morale and discipline never collapsed (as did that of the French after the Chemin Des Dames offensive, and that of the Germans even as they were executing the Kaiserschacht in the Spring of 1918 )

I posted this on a similar thread some years ago now:

The British Army, by the end of 1918 was nearly 4 million strong: that's 4 000 000, in old money. Now, of that number either 304 or 306 (depending on whose figures you believe) were executed -Shot at Dawn - the bulk of the offences being desertion or cowardice. Of that number, many were also charged with other crimes (looting, murder, etc).

As I said, I hope this does not swerve off onto a typical ARRSE tangent about the rights and wrongs of the disciplinary measures of almost a hundred years ago: but, for Crissake, lets lose this myth that serried ranks of toms, in files of threes, were beating a steady path to the execution ground from dawn to dusk for 4 years.".


Of that number there were 3 officers who paid the ultimate price.
 
I posted this on a similar thread some years ago now:

The British Army, by the end of 1918 was nearly 4 million strong: that's 4 000 000, in old money. Now, of that number either 304 or 306 (depending on whose figures you believe) were executed -Shot at Dawn - the bulk of the offences being desertion or cowardice. Of that number, many were also charged with other crimes (looting, murder, etc).

As I said, I hope this does not swerve off onto a typical ARRSE tangent about the rights and wrongs of the disciplinary measures of almost a hundred years ago: but, for Crissake, lets lose this myth that serried ranks of toms, in files of threes, were beating a steady path to the execution ground from dawn to dusk for 4 years.".


Of that number there were 3 officers who paid the ultimate price.
I've never been entirely confident of my figure of "3 million served between 1914 and 1918": I must have done some kind of research, but it was yonks ago, and I haven't remembered it, but (at least) it's a conservative estimate. If 4M were still serving in 1918 (and I'm assuming all these to have been Brits, not Commonwealth or Imperial troops) then - given losses and discharges - the total for "served in the British Army between 14-18" would be higher still.

I dunno where one might look for an authoritative figure.
 
This is from the same film, but is definitely not staged:
default.jpg


I can't help myself - I see the look on the face of the bloke carrying the wounded (dying, so we are told) soldier, and imagine him cursing inwardly,and very angrily, at the bloke behind the camera.
This another image taken from - as you say - Marlins film. It is very well known. I’ve been looking at it for about 50 years. My firm opinion, shared by many, is that it is another staged situation.
 
I've never been entirely confident of my figure of "3 million served between 1914 and 1918": I must have done some kind of research, but it was yonks ago, and I haven't remembered it, but (at least) it's a conservative estimate. If 4M were still serving in 1918 (and I'm assuming all these to have been Brits, not Commonwealth or Imperial troops) then - given losses and discharges - the total for "served in the British Army between 14-18" would be higher still.

I dunno where one might look for an authoritative figure.

Given that Ancestry hold 5,280,584 WWI Medal Index Cards which survived the Blitz -and that figure does not include Aussies nor Canajuns.
 
But they will include RN personnel. And I thought MICs all survived the Blitz, and it was Soldier's Service records that got burnt?

RN and RM did not have MICs, only the medal rolls. Having said that, there are some MICs that record 'Royal Navy'. These are mostly in relation to men who served in both the RN and the Army, plus several (which nearly always originate from the Met Police for some reason) for men who returned to Police service after the war.

Indeed, it is estimated that up to 70% of Service Records were destroyed in 1940: fortunately, the bulk of the Medal Rolls remain.
 
A minor amendment - I hope you approve.

On all other counts I agree wholeheartedly with your commentary.

The 'Shot At Dawn' movement have embedded a gross exaggeration in the national understanding of the Great War, and it is treated uncritically as factual, even in the skule syllabus.

It focusses on the total number of death sentences that were handed out (from memory something like 3K) and proceeds on the assumption that every single one was carried out.

The fact is that the 'cruel/ heartless' senior officers who were obliged to review such sentences reduced 9 out of 10 of them to lesser penalties. Actual executions by firing squad numbered around 300.

Given that in the 4¼ years of British involvement in the war, some 3,000,000 men served in the British army then simple arithmetic leads to the fact that only about 0.01% of those who served (that's just 1 soldier in 10,000) was executed, and the likelihood of others being required to take part in, or spectate at their executions was not very great.

It also overlooks the fact that the officers and men who did the fighting do not appear to have thought the punishment itself (let alone its frequency) to have been either unjustified or in any way disproportionate.

The rest of the WW1/ Lions & Donkeys myth completely overlooks the enormous changes, the adaptations, innovations and inventions that all ranks were responsible for enacting or employing during its course, as well as the fact that - off all the major combatants engaged throughout the fighting on the Western Front - the British Army was the only one whose morale and discipline never collapsed (as did that of the French after the Chemin Des Dames offensive, and that of the Germans even as they were executing the Kaiserschacht in the Spring of 1918 )


That include Etaples and Southampton?
 
That include Etaples and Southampton?
Small beer, compared to the wholesale French Army "work to rule" after the Nivelle offensives, or the masses of German troops who abandoned their advance in 1918 in favour of humongous picnics at the Brit supply depots they had overrun.

Neither of your examples had any impact on the ability of the Brit Army to prosecute its mission.
 
A problem is that Blackadder Goes Forth has been used in history lessons in some schools, thus compounding some of the myths.

Quite frankly, Joan Littlewood 'The Mother of Modern Theatre' who wrote 'Oh What A Lovely War' should be bracketed In the same category as Phil Shiner.
That she could portray the British Tommy in Pierrot costumes (as clowns!) in her stage 1963 version - whilst many would be in their 60's - was obnoxiously cynical and, I doubt, capture their mood or spoke accurately for that generation - bearing in mind the national turnout for Gen. Haig's funeral.
It's not really dissimilar to how Blair could send troops to Iraq and then get his ilk to condemn them on fallacious accusations.
 
I posted this on a similar thread some years ago now:

The British Army, by the end of 1918 was nearly 4 million strong: that's 4 000 000, in old money. Now, of that number either 304 or 306 (depending on whose figures you believe) were executed -Shot at Dawn - the bulk of the offences being desertion or cowardice. Of that number, many were also charged with other crimes (looting, murder, etc).

As I said, I hope this does not swerve off onto a typical ARRSE tangent about the rights and wrongs of the disciplinary measures of almost a hundred years ago: but, for Crissake, lets lose this myth that serried ranks of toms, in files of threes, were beating a steady path to the execution ground from dawn to dusk for 4 years.".


Of that number there were 3 officers who paid the ultimate price.
I posted earlier:
I dunno where one might look for an authoritative figure.
Then I did a little Google Fu, which led me to The Long Long Trail (a truly excellent resource) and a page of Some British Army Statistics

Using the numbers thereon for men enlisted solely from the British Isles, my conservative guesstimate of 3 million is significantly outnumbered by their figures - which give a total of nearly twice that: just over 5.7 million (rising to over 8 million when troops are included from across the Empire, who don't - or at any rate, shouldn't - figure in the Shot At Dawn myth, because they had their own ways of doing business - hence my irritation at the photo-portrait of a slouch-hatted, nameless ANZAC on the wall of the mendacious little Shot At Dawn shrine at Ypres, when I was tour-guiding skule trips a coupla decades ago, and getting well fed-up with the bollix that was in the National Syllabus about WW1!)
 
My friends & I will be going over to France & Belgium again this year, a trip delayed for two years due to Covid.
We will pay our respects at the cemeteries we visit this time around including the Langemark German cemetery.
Always an extremely humbling experience & I hope we continue for many years.
 
Still horrifying to me. My grandad, was one of those unlucky sods. A lovelier bloke you couldn't hope meet. To think that he would have to drive 16' of Sheffields finest through someone is very sobering.
A sixteen foot bayonet must have needed quite a run up. Wasn't it quite difficult moving around the trench systems?
 
A problem is that Blackadder Goes Forth has been used in history lessons in some schools, thus compounding some of the myths.
The School of Infantry probably owes the BBC a fortune in licencing, too.
 

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