Queen asked to grant Royal pardon to Breaker Morant

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by the_boy_syrup, Feb 10, 2010.

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  1. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    The Queen is being asked to grant a royal pardon to Harry 'Breaker' Morant, a soldier executed by a British firing squad for the murder of prisoners in the last days of the Boer War.

    Somerset-born Morant – the subject of the film Breaker Morant starring Edward Woodward – sailed to Australia in 1883 at the age of 19 and became a skilled horsebreaker.

    He was among thousands of men from Australia who volunteered to fight against Dutch settlers in South Africa. In 1902 he was convicted at a court martial of murdering 12 Boer prisoners.

    During a savage guerilla campaign, when numerous atrocities were committed by both sides, Morant is said to have intercepted a group of eight prisoners being brought in for questioning. He ordered them to be shot at the side of the road.

    Later other Boers who had waved a white flag of surrender were also disarmed and shot under Morant's command.

    Now a petition has been sent to Australia’s Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, by military lawyer James Unkles, who claims shooting prisoners was Army policy and Morant and codefendant Peter Handcock should be pardoned.

    He claims Lord Kitchener, the British commander, ignored recommendations for mercy because he wanted the pair shot to discredit claims he had ordered the execution of prisoners to speed up peace talks with the Boers and appease Germany, which was considering entering the war.


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1249698/Queen-asked-grant-Royal-pardon-soldier-executed-British-firing-squad-Boer-War-murders.html#ixzz0f5Yj1rAJ
     
  2. Madness! People forget that, besides killing prisoners, Morant allegedly murdered one of his own men. Shot him while on patrol. It's in the book Shoot Straight You Bastards!.
     
  3. I was not aware of that. But surely Bleszynski would fake stuff that made Morant look better not worse?

    EDIT:

    This is the incident I mean:

    http://www.lighthorse.org.au/military/bushveldt.htm

    2nd Charge - Tpr Van Buuren was a local who had enlisted in the Bushveldt Carbineers. On witnessing the above shootings, he told their families who were also locals. Lt Hancock took Tpr Van Buuren out on patrol from which only Hancock returned. Lt Hancock stated that Tpr Van Buuren was shot by Boers.
     
  4. This matter has nothing what so ever to do with the Australia government:

    "On 27 February 1902, Harry “Breaker” Morant and Peter Handcock were shot by a British firing squad in Pretoria.

    Harry Morant, a drover and balladist, and Peter Handcock, a blacksmith, were lieutenants in the Bushveldt Carbineers, a regiment raised in South Africa early in 1901 to garrison the northern Transvaal, round up small bands of armed Boers, and bring in Boer families willing to sign an oath of allegiance to the British empire. They were convicted after a series of courts martial of the murders of 12 Boer prisoners. All parties agree – even Morant and Handcock admitted it – that the men shot the prisoners.

    Morant and Handcock were not Australian soldiers but imperial volunteers in an irregular regiment raised in South Africa to serve with the British army. The British army and government, not Australia, held legal jurisdiction over the two men, and murder was then a capital crime."

    Great nickname, smashing film, but Breaker Morant and Hancock were murderers, they admitted as much and got the sentance proscribed by law at the time!
     
  5. the down side in this matter is no diffrent than the ss stating they were only following orders, there is a moral issue here, dispite any verbal order or understanding there cannot be any excuse for there actions, further they were british subjects under military law in time of war. the question were they treated fairly is another matter.
    however the law at that time stated death for murder and thats what they got, right or wrong.
     
  6. Why does Her Maj have to be dragged in to this?

    Here's another late apology. About 1,500 years ago some of my ancestors invaded Britain from Saxony in Germany. On the strength of this fact, I wish to apologise for Germany's actions in World War Two.
     
  7. Thanks BC I feel much better for that, and I too wish to apologise for my ancesters coming accross the North Sea in long boats and the rape and pillage that followed, but subsequently for the Ikea shops that have come here too
     
  8. Living in the colonies its been interesting reading your take on the issue. As you can imagine its all over the media here. I have seen the movie, but don't know a great deal more about the case.

    However, i can see the merits in Stickys argument, and if that is the case the Australian govt has no recourse, even though it was a soverign state at the time....just :)
     
  9. An opportunity for Unkles to get his face on the telly.
    Has he got a book out?

    We should also pardon Edward Kelly, who was socially disadvantaged and greatly misunderstood. Shooting policemen was an expression of frustration at the social injustices, etc, etc....
     
  10. The detail in my post between the "..." is taken from the mentioned site in another post www.awm.gov.au/wartime...rticle.asp which just happens to be an Oz government site!

    This crap is akin to the Paddys wanting Oz to appologise for riddling Ned Kelley with bullets when he was only a robbing murdering son of a bitch following his mammy's orders!
     
  11. The one author who has probably done more research on Morant and Handcock is the late Kit Denton.

    He originally was of the opinion that they had been executed unjustly and was a sop to appease the Germans who had been upset over the execution of a German priest who was suspected of spying for the Boers. However, on further research Denton changed his opinion and wrote that the men had unlawfully executed prisoners and the court martial was just.

    I believe I am correct in stating that one result of the execution was the subsequent refusal of the Australian Prime Minister, Billy Hughes, to allow Australian troops to come under British disciplinary authority during WW!.
     
  12. Interesting to see someone has done some research and changed there mind on the subject. The crux for me in this is that Morant and Hancock admitted they had shot prisoners - end of!

    I'd also go along with that view, and Morant's death saved many a digger from a firing squad for 'military offences' unlike the poor Tommies!

    Still a cracking nickname and film, then again, the SS and Gestapo had cracking sexy uniforms too!
     
  13. Thanks for the link, and yes I see exactly what you mean, and agree with you. The only explanation I can offer is that Breaker Morant along with Ned kelly, convicts and Galipoli have all become urban legend here....and legends are usually twisted to become part of the 'mythology' of the country. That's what I believe has happened in this case, and yes its wrong! Unfortunatley, however, that's what 'young' countries do, primarily to build a sense of nationhood from nothing. Believe it or not many Aussies still blame the Brits for Galipoli, have no idea that Brits, French etc fought in the same campaign, and have no idea that more Aussies died on the Western Front than in any other campaign! Strange I know! They must have some very twisted history lessons here.

    So you are right, there should be no pardon :)