Shot at dawn

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by OldRedCap, Jun 18, 2006.

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  1. The Minister is taking the opportunity of his position to impose his own opinions on a matter which has been exhaustively examined over many years. One would think there are better matters for his Civil Servants to be researching and submitting solutions. I regard his alleged conduct to be an abuse of his position. Would we be happy with, say, one of the Streatham Common Wanderers being appointed and asking for priority on new proposals to integrate gay, lesbian, transexual and bisexual soldiers more widely than now?
    There is a case going through the courts. Why not leave the matter to that route?
    I have no real opinion of right or wrong on the question of the executions. The PTSD 'experts' will use this proposed review as a lever. My sympathy lies with those who resisted the stress of the massacre going on around them and did their duty. We will never know whether British lives were lost as a result of the breaking of one of those subsequently shot.
  2. I agree entirely, the trouble with people like this is that they insist on carrying their own pet prejudices and opinions with them when they enter higher office (see Mo Mowlam and Ulstr Unionists for example!). This subject has been exhaustively covered over the past few years but the campaigners pay absolutely no heed ot any of the arguments or reasons given. If they pardon all of these guys not only will it be a great insult to all those who did their duty and stood their ground but we may as well pardon everybody accused of anything before say, the introduction of PACE, as their convictions are unsafe by current standards. There's an excellent chapter on the subject in Gordon Corrigans book "Mud Blood and Poppycock" which I urge anyone interested in the Great War to run out and buy.
  3. ...and, in reality, what does it change? They were shot 90 years ago, it will not bring them back or change the opinion of those who knew them. This is another example of politicians posturing to prove their trendy credentials. Also, what of the unfortunate servicemen in the firing squads? Are they now to be considered murderers?
  4. Isn't this the same sort of thing as having people demand Britain apologise for the Slave Trade of hundreds of years ago? It appears the only people upset about Britains involvement... Is the british. I just returned from Africa, an they don't give a damn about that stuff, it happened so long ago. Why do people insist on bringing this sort of stuff up time and again?
  5. One wonders how all of you would have felt if it was one of your relatives who had been shot at dawn? Are you aware that the wives of those shot received not one penny from the state at a time when welfare did not exist? Thos poor women (and their children) spent the rest of their lives scraping an existence.

    The whole point of the enquiry is to show that the attitude of Senior Officers right up to, and including, Haig was that other ranks were mere canon fodder. Haig is on record as being apoplectic over the fact that the Australian High Command refused to execute any of their troops. His comment was something like, "It is only by executing some of them that discipline will be maintained". That says it all I think. Who are any one of us to say that they were or were not suffering from shell shock? Are we medical experts? Was Haig and his staff? No? I thought not.

    It is easy to judge after the event, Gentleman.
  6. We will be apologising for Dresden next.....oops we already did, still at least we have not apologised for Bloody Sunday.......
  7. So judging after the event is okay if you do it?
  8. I wasn't saying that shooting soldiers for l'encouragement autres is a GOOD idea, i'm saying it did happen nearly a hundred years ago, it's been looked at an awful lot in the past decade at least, does it need to be dredged up time and again?
  9. It is always dangerous to impose the attitudes of the modern day on the actions of the past. The Bentley/Craig case is a classic in this; when Bentley was hanged in the 1950s society knew exactly what it was doing and why, that's how the law stood then. When they hanged a women at the West Gate in Canterbury in 1811 for sheep stealing that's how the law stood then - should we be granting her a posthumous pardon?

    When many WW1 vets were still around they were pretty much of one voice - 'you got shot for desertion; we stayed and did our bit they didn't'.

    The vast majority of those shot (300 or so out of the thousands of sentences handed down) were second or third time offenders. Yes it was a harsh way of dealing with people; just over 20 years later the Army had become more enlightened and whilst sentences of death for desertion were handed down in WW2 none were carried out in the British Army.

    WW1 was a particularly brutal war; the British High Command, particularly after 1917, was scared lest the Army mutinied in their opinion this called for robust discipline. That's the way it was then.
  10. Well put, Percy.
  11. As someone mentioned earlier in the thread, have a look at Mud, Blood and Poppycock where there is a detailed examination on firing squads and comparisons of the other combatants. It should also be noted that the majority of death sentences were actually commuted. I agree that some of those shot probably had shell shock, were under age or just couldn't take any more but without doing a case by case study there is no way of giving a pardon. Certainly there should not be a blanket one as sought earlier, as some of the executions were for desertion where the individuals were found in civvies way behind the lines. Look at the numbers executed in the French Army - I don't see a call for pardons over there :wink:
  12. As my history teacher drummed into us, Hindsight is both wonderful and terrible. Wonderful, as you can see everything at once, from different sides, and see it all come together. Terrible because you see things that today are unthoughtof, but which were the norm then. Judgement on the past is really not something anyone should do, rahter the past should be assessed in context.
  13. Its called revisionism, a curse invented by those with a book to sell or a reputation to make....
  14. This isn't a case of imposing present attitudes on the past, the majority of these guys who were shot were extremely brave soldiers who were cynically used as an example as a warning to other soldiers. In other words their prosecutions and executions were politically driven, sounds familiar? If anything, we could put the attitude of Senior Officers then quiet neatly into a modern context. Maybe one or two of the condemned men were cowards, does that mean those that weren't should be condemned for all eternity?

    The real cowards were those that sent these men to their deaths from the safety of the rear areas. They were not in a moral position to judge these men, neither are we. May they all Rest in Peace.
  15. I too, cannot recommend strongly enough Gordon Corrigan's study into this, which dispels a number of the myths that a number of the posters here clearly still subscribe too (as did I, to an extent - as we are all susceptible to propaganda).

    Capital punishment, rightly or wrongly, was the known penallty for the relevant offences (including murder - should we pardon those who murdered in the Army but not in civilian life?) Medical evidence was admissable; there was a horrible war on.

    They may or may not have been brave soldiers, but they certainly were convicted of a criminal offence carrying the death penalty after a due legal process, which was entirely appropriate to the time.