Minister to reconsider WWI pardon

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by Jenny_Dabber, Mar 28, 2006.

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  1. This not a little too late now?

    Full story
  2. Personally I think it can never be to late to say 'we got it wrong'. Too many of these young lads were shot, not because they were cowards, but to frighten the others into keeping in the front line.

  3. I hardly see how it can hurt the MOD for them to admit that several practices that took place in previous wars were wrong and that they made a mistake.
  4. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    I think it is a dangerous practise to re-write history. How ever sorry we may feel for the men executed, they were dealt with under the rules and regulation in force at the time.

    Where does it stop, I heard someone on the Radio the other day saying that we should apologise for having Slaves, my family were Fishermen going way back, there's no way that they ever had anything to do with Slaves or the Slave Trade, why should I apologise?

    A lot of people were Transported to the Colonies for stealing Sheep, this penalty is no longer in the statute books so should we bring there relatives back to the UK?

    In Dorset, several of our older bridges have metal plates on them stating that anyone found damaging the Bridge will be Transported, I don't know if anyone ever was but the same would apply as to bringing the relatives home. (I did some research in case it still applied, wouldn't have minded a free trip to Oz, but sadly the Act has been repealed)
  5. I don't think we are talking about rewriting history in this case, those who were hung or transported for theft were usually guilty, but many of those who were shot were not guilty through mental ilness something that was accepted in law at the time. Thisparticular man was shot because he had had his time recovering from shell shock and whether cured or not was drafted back to the front.

    I accept that if there was a general pardon for those who were shot as cowards some who were guilty will be included, but that is a small price to pay to recognise as almost every one does that most were not guilty of the offences they were punished for.

    I think this is very different to slavery as well, it was legal when it happened, and had been legal for thousands of years. What made slavery unacceptable was the industrialisation of it to support the new colonies.

  6. They have to be careful, as some of the executions were as a direct result of breaking martial law, and some were caused by stress/mental illness. As the paperwork (as ever) is somewhat lacking, it will be difficult to decide who was executed incorrectly and who wasn't. It won't be easy to determine culpability or mental faculty this many years after the event. Personally, I feel this has more to do with the Government not wanting to pay out pensions (bearing in mind that pensions were stopped) or compensation. It would take very little effort to grant pardons, but they also have to decide if those that were executed for murder, rape, etc were also in full possession of their faculties or were suffering from PTSD.
  7. One could suggest they have been too boody careful for too long.

    I think it started to protect those who gave the orders, then it has just been the wholly intransigent system that is far too reluctant to admit it might have been wrong. I think the compensation bit is also a reddish herring as most of those who may have been entitled to anything have died any way.

    As to other crimes there has been little suggestion of this and I feel there would be little call to have such people included. Any way the fact there may be another argument to follow is not an excuse for not doing the right thing.

    One could suggest that those who now argue against pardons are complicit with those who issued the wrongful execution orders.

  8. I wish it was still law. I would have stolen a couple of flocks and grafiti'd that bridge several times by now for a free trip and a home in Aus.

    The modern Aussie generation should thank their lucky stars that their distant reletives were bread thieves.
  9. In your case it would only take a loaf of bread, but would they want you here? They are getting fussy nowadays
  10. I must admit on my first drive into the country from Sidney I thought that those who were transported from the slums of London must have thought they had died and gone to heaven.

    My wife is the daughter of a £10 Pom who escaped so not every one sees it as paradise.

  11. Those guilty of theft where probably trying to feed their families no social or well paid jobs in those days. And if it was left to the landowners "GENTRY" those days would still be here!!! If you survived the mantraps in the estates which could break a thigh bone no prob! you where either hung or sent to OZ. Probably for stealing a few rabbits for the pot.

    Sent into the face of the guns by toe rags far far away whose only action was probably a pillow fight at boarding school. Was it not General Haig that said "we are bound to win this war there are far more people in England than Germany" Hence the name "CANNON FODDER"

    Come on you chaps smile for the folks back home!! Then crawl back into your rat infested shit and piss trenches. The smell of rotting corpses in the air.

    WW1 was a new ball game to the whole wide world. The fact remains in all walks of life be it military or civilian. We all eventually have a breaking point these poor souls snapped before the others.

    A queens pardon would be a nice gesture for those who may still remember that young man standing proud in his uniform about to go to fight for King and Country and not shot tied to a post at dawn crying probably for his mother.

    I wonder how the troops who shot the "COWARDS" felt??? Probably wishing the toe rag who signed the death warrant was on that post.

    Even in this day and age slavery is still about be it human trafficking or slave traders in Africa.

  12. I have just a little suspicion that transportation was introduced as much because people realised that at least a proportion of crime was committed through desparation not malice. It also solved a problem of unemployement at home and underemployment in the colonies.

    I would suggest that the gentry paid at least their fair share in the trenches, the highest casualty rates were amongst the young subalterns who led their men over the top. The real problem with WW1 was that the development of technology far outstripped the development of tactics and doctrine so both sides got stuck in the mire of the trenches and bloody frontal attacks. As things stand I suspect that there was no general in the world at the time who would have used significantly different tactis to those applied by Haig. 20/20 hindsight is wonderful, but it was not available to those there at the time.

    I suspect some of those in the firing squad wished they were the target, then at least it would all end. Also I expect that most of those shot maintained their dignity, they were after all mostly brave men who has faced certain death many time before.

    Of course slavery continues, it is as much part of human nature as racism, bigotry and all our other deficiencies. The difference today is that we see our bad side more clearly and try to do more to counter it.

  13. If I could go back to the original point, it seemed that it was being claimed the particular soldier (who they want the pardon for) was sentenced to death wrongly because at the time it was policy not to execute men with shell shock, and that he was properly diagnosed as a sufferer but this was ignored at his court martial.

    I can't believe that among the soldiers who were executed under military law at the time that they were all innocent, that there was NOBODY who: wasn't a deserter: who let down his unit: caused the death of other soldiers etc etc.

    In this particular case ie the soldier who's the subject of the appeal, they might have a point; problem is it will open the gates for shyster lawyers who are looking for a reputation if not fees to re-open every case and claim nobody was guilty.

    As for what the firing squad thought while some might have wanted to shoot the the officers who gave the sentence, there could equally be some who had woken up in their trench to find they were in the company of the German army - because someone on sentry duty had legged it- and that firing squad might very happily pull the trigger.

    Does anyone know if the Royal Naval Division treated this any differently ?
  14. I spoke to a WW1 veteran in 1992 on the Somme. He was a Regular in the Lancaster Regt and whole-hearted agreed the system in place at the time was the only reason discipline did not collapse in times of stress, such as the retreat of Spring 1918.

    2000 death sentances were given at Courts-martials and 300+ were carried out. Mud Blood and Poppycock by Gordon Corrigan explores many myths of the executions.

    I agree many were without foundation, but murderers and rapists were dealt with in this manner.

    How far do you go back in history and start re-writing history?

    It was a system in place at the time and it obviously had it's flaws, bit like the Labour Govt of today.

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