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G-CPTN
16th Aug 2006, 02:37
So now the precedent is about to be set. Don't worry if you are shot for cowardice or desertion during war, in ninety years time you'll (probably) be granted a pardon.
So that's alright then.
The Ministry of Defence is to seek pardons for more than 300 soldiers who were shot for military offences during World War I.
Defence Secretary Des Browne said he would be seeking a group pardon, approved by Parliament, for the men.
It is thought 306 British soldiers were shot for cowardice, desertion or other offences in the 1914-1918 war.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4796579.stm









Please don't misinterpret my belief. I fully accept that by far the majority of those who were executed were 'sick' through trauma - what THEY called shell-shock and what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. Having personally experienced the latter, my sympathies are with those shot (and their families who must have felt distraught at the labelling of their loved-one as a coward).

After the Second World War, we had an ex-RAF member of a local family who lived al-fresco around the town for the rest of his life. He had a fear of being confined within a building. He could be seen under bridges, together with his kit-bags (containing ALL his possessions, including the family silver!). He fed himself using his billy-cans over an open fire with provisions supplied by his sister. Initially he continued to wear his RAF uniform (together with handle-bar moustache), though eventually that wore out and he acquired 'hand-outs' (mostly from the local gentry who had known him in better times).

reynoldsno1
16th Aug 2006, 03:11
Whilst I applaud the sentiment....
Defence Secretary Des Browne
...is it only me who finds a Defence Secretary with the sobriquet "Des" a little difficult to take seriously .....?? :oh:

tony draper
16th Aug 2006, 07:27
I recal reading that Haig and the rest of the upper managment were a bit peeved they were not allowed to shoot Australians.
Been quite a bit re this in the media these last few years, never heard mention of how many were shot during the second world war.
:cool:

tilewood
16th Aug 2006, 07:30
Whilst I applaud the sentiment....
...is it only me who finds a Defence Secretary with the sobriquet "Des" a little difficult to take seriously .....?? :oh:


It's a little difficult to take the whole Government seriously, from a
Foreign Secretary dragging a shed round Europe, to a Deputy Prime
Minister indulging in 'ugandan discussions' with a female staff member
behind the office door, to a Prime Minister freeloading in the Caribbean
in a faded pop star's villa!!

Each one of the so called 'cowards', the subject of this thread, had
more courage in their little fingers than the whole of this contemptable
Government. :hmm:

arcniz
16th Aug 2006, 07:34
Not wanting to make a thing of it, I am nonetheless having some difficulty with PRE-traumatic stress syndrome. Sorry...really...sorry.....really. Never mind.

woolyalan
16th Aug 2006, 07:34
They were shot for cowardice, but as G-CPTN said, they were then ' shell shocked' but from what I learned in history (I knew it would come in useful) the illness wasnt fully understood, IMHO they and their families all deserve a pardon.

Thinking about it, if they werent shot, it is very possible that they would have copped it through spanish flu after the war... providing they survived it.

tony draper
16th Aug 2006, 07:48
Don't think the term Shell Shocked came into vogue until later in the war,and then I think it only applied to officers, think it was called Lack of Moral Fiber among the poor grunts.
Still its difficult to judge from this distance in time the mind set of the military in those days,remember pilots were not allowed parachutes because it was though they would jump out rather than fight.
:uhoh:

Choxolate
16th Aug 2006, 08:12
The fundamental flaw in this "pardoning" is a desire to rewrite history. It is morally, historically and rationally indefensible to try and re-interpret past actions based on todays morals. It is like Bristol City (the place not the football team) recently "apologising" for its part in slavery - complete (and dangerous) PC doublethink.

The rationale appears to be - we wouldn't do it now so let's try and undo the past into a version we are comfortable with

Stoney X
16th Aug 2006, 08:20
As Drapes said:
Still its difficult to judge from this distance in time the mind set of the military in those days
I really don't see the point of this pardon. Unless the apology is coming from those who sentenced then it's all seems a bit meaningless. Once this pardon has been issued can we then expect the relatives to sue?

angels
16th Aug 2006, 08:34
Blimey, there's some bollocks on this thread!

Have you thought about the stigma the families lived with after their fathers/brothers/uncles etc were shot at dawn for the disgrace of having a nervous breakdown on the battlefield?

The fact that we are now aware of what afflicted the bulk of these men means we can at least acknowledge the fact they were NOT cowards. It won't bring them back but if it brings the tiniest bit of solace to these mens' relatives then Des (sorry reynolds) Browne's move was the right one.

What is wrong with that?

One of my dad's schoolmates in the war did 35 raids over Germany/France. After seeing most of his mates killed he cracked and had what we would call a nervous breakdown. He was immediately branded as LMF and committed suicide a few months later.

War must place stress on people that's a little more than worrying where the money for the next holiday comes from.

Parapunter
16th Aug 2006, 08:37
Taken to it's logical conclusion, we should posthumously put Old Henry on trial fo r religious hatred one supposes for burning down them monasteries. However, the pardon on moral grounds for the 1st world war victims is just about in living memory & certainly very alive a generation or two on.

So, one supposes the background noise is comprehensible & I suppose I can just about understand the transposing of today's mores onto the first world war. Although I reckon the reality is that war is a dirty old business & twas ever thus.

Interesting question from Mr D, I too know of no executions for refusing to soldier in the 2nd lot, amongst the allies anyway, perhaps it had passed from the culture by then?:confused:

Polikarpov
16th Aug 2006, 08:45
I believe one of the reservations (correct me if I'm wrong here, just caught the tail end of the article on Radio 4 this morning) about this course of action is that it's a non-discriminatory blanket pardon.

Whilst it's likely the bulk of these incidents were PTSD/Shell-Shock/Other, it's also likely a fair few were for non-stress-related cases of attempted desertion etc.

Capt.KAOS
16th Aug 2006, 08:48
The death sentence for desertion in the British forces was abolished in 1929. During World War 1, over 300 British and Commonwealth soldiers were shot for desertion and cowardice.

In WW2 of the hundred thousand or so GI deserters from the US Army, 2,864 were tried by General court-martial for desertion since the war began. Forty nine were sentenced to death but in only one case, that of Eddie Slovik, was the sentence carried out. I believe Hollywood even made a movie about it.

I'm pretty sure Patton would like to have seen more executions...

green granite
16th Aug 2006, 08:58
In WW2 of the hundred thousand or so GI deserters from the US Army, 2,864 were tried by General court-martial for desertion since the war began. Forty nine were sentenced to death but in only one case, that of Eddie Slovik, was the sentence carried out. I believe Hollywood even made a movie about it.

I'm pretty sure Patton would like to have seen more executions...


I'm pretty sure Patton would like to have done them himself, at one time he was demoted for hitting a soldier, who was in a hospital suffering from shell shock, and calling him a coward.

BlueDiamond
16th Aug 2006, 09:00
I'm not too sure about the "pardon" ... that implies forgiveness for something that a person has done wrong. I feel that exculpation, freeing from guilt or blame, would be far more appropriate. In granting these pardons, the government is still saying, "You did the wrong thing, boys, but now that we've killed you, we'll forgive you."

I think these men deserve better than that.

Choxolate
16th Aug 2006, 09:01
The fact that we are now aware of what afflicted the bulk of these men means we can at least acknowledge the fact they were NOT cowards. It won't bring them back but if it brings the tiniest bit of solace to these mens' relatives then Des (sorry reynolds) Browne's move was the right one.

What is wrong with that?
But the point I was trying to make (obvioulsy unsuccessfully) was that the people who made the rules, convicted and ordered the executions DID believe they were cowards. They may have been wrong but pardoning them now will not somehow "unchange" the decisions made at the time or their reasons - the "shame" on living relatives is (I would suggest) not that we still believe them all to be cowards but that the authorities AT THE TIME did, and nothing can ever change that. Very few people today believe they were all cowards (some of them may have been I do not know) but to officially declare all of them as "pardoned" IS bending the knee to Political Correctness whether you like it or not.

If any pardoning is done retrospectively then it must be on a case by case basis with evidence that in each individual's case the verdict was wrong based on the evidence available to the tribunal at the time.

If that is regarded as anti PC rant then so be it.

tony draper
16th Aug 2006, 09:02
Also bare in mind that at that time the common man was tret little better in peace time, regarded by those that ruled as just fodder for the mills mines and sweat shops of no account,the great unwashed, not difficult to shift from seeing them as factory fodder to cannon fodder.

IB4138
16th Aug 2006, 09:02
Are all members of the firing squads now to reclassified as murderers? :confused:

angels
16th Aug 2006, 09:14
choxolate - A fair argument, sir, which I largely accept.

I just hate the term PC. Much prefer Drapes' huggy-fluff!

Ali Barber
16th Aug 2006, 09:45
One example - pardon seems the right thing:

Despite following the orders to retreat of an NCO who shouted, "Run for your lives, the Huns are on top of you!", Sgt Peter Goggins was shot for deserting his post. The 22-year-old soldier, who had married six months before his death in January 1917, was commanding a unit of six soldiers in the front line, when a sergeant came running back from a reconnaissance mission yelling at them to withdraw.

Sgt Goggins, of 19Bn Durham Light Infantry, scrambled out of a dugout and fell back to a reserve trench 20 yards away - but it turned out to be a false alarm. Even though the sergeant confirmed that he had given the orders to retreat, Goggins was court martialled on Christmas Eve and executed a week later.

His 19-year-old wife Margaret disappeared when she heard the news and his mother had a nervous breakdown.

AcroChik
16th Aug 2006, 09:47
Everyone thinking about this ought to go watch Stanley Kubrick's movie, Paths of Glory, and then readdress the issue.

Beetlejuice
16th Aug 2006, 09:56
Apparently, Harry Farr (the soldier from WW1 who has just been pardoned) served for two years in the trenches before he was shot. Whatever else he might have been, the guy was certainly no coward!

Taildragger67
16th Aug 2006, 10:10
Heard Des Browne on R4 this morning.

It's a blanket pardon for all shot for 'desertion' as evidence now suggests that some (if not many) shot for 'desertion' were in fact suffering shell-shock/PTSD. However it has to be blanket for all in category as not all cases still have complete enough documentation to allow a proper review and it would be incongruous to pardon some for whom complete documentation does still exist, whilst refusing a pardon for other probable PTSD victims simply due to a lack of doumentation. Hence in effect, the common law presumption of innocence will be applied to all cases.

It's not rewriting history - rather applying what we know now to past events (and medical conditions). The Def Sec clearly said that the desired effect is not to vilify the commanders of the day, as they were simply doing what they thought to be right, with what they knew at the time and within the rules of the time.

These cases were starting to pop up in the courts and this action ensures equal measures of redress and justice for those concerned. Pity we can't give them their lives back.

It's not political correctness, just common sense. :ok:


My uncle came back from WW2 totally rattled. Went away a very smart guy - specialist in a very technical, cutting-edge area; came back barely able to remember to tie his shoes. Another uncle didn't come back. The wasted generation indeed.

tony draper
16th Aug 2006, 10:32
From a talking head on telly this morning the relutance to pardon has not been on the politicians part,apparently it has been the Sir Humphries in the MOD who were determined not to be thwarted in this matter,including making documentation unavailable for half a century and filing all enquiries and demands in the infinite hold basket.
:confused: :cool:
If you have a politician agin you it is a inconvenience,if you have a Senior Civil Servant yer fecked.
:uhoh:

Choxolate
16th Aug 2006, 10:58
However it has to be blanket for all in category as not all cases still have complete enough documentation to allow a proper review and it would be incongruous to pardon some for whom complete documentation does still exist, whilst refusing a pardon for other probable PTSD victims simply due to a lack of doumentation. Hence in effect, the common law presumption of innocence will be applied to all cases
I believe that this what is known in political circles as sophistry.
1. These poor men were shot legally after a trial and a conviction under Kings Regulations. Whether this would happen today is not relevant it happened 90 or so years ago.
2. Therefore they are not "innocent" until proven guilty - they are (legally) guilty.
3. If the blanket "pardon" is, in effect, now declaring these men innocent or falsely convicted, then with no evidence or documentation (in some cases) to support the "pardon" it seems, to say the least, an exercise in public relations rather than the genuine pardoning of an innocent man

Please do not think that I do not have enormous sympathy for the majority of these men and their surviving relatives but trying to restrospectivley "sanitize" the events is no answer. Opening cans of worms springs to mind

Roll forward 30 years - should the then government "pardon" all the people who were subject to capital punishment (whether guilty of the crime or not) because at that future time it appears absolutely barbaric that we used to actually hang people.

Taildragger67
16th Aug 2006, 11:16
Choc,

No-one is suggesting that due process wasn't followed at the time. Indeed, the Def Sec emphasised that on R4 this morning (and see the item on the Beeb news site). The convictions were legal under the regs prevailing in WW1 and will remain so (unless evidence were to come forward re a dodgy trial but that is not the issue here). No-one is suggesting they were not legal.

And a pardon does not quash the conviction.

Re capital punishment victims - there are very recent instances of reviews were new evidence has come to light or process was found to have indeed been flawed; verdicts have been quashed (ie. the person was actually proved to have been innocent) and pardons granted (ie. you might have indeed done it, but for one reason or another (eg. a bad defence) we're giving you the benefit of the doubt).

My 'innocent until guilty' comment was to demonstrate principle. That is, it appears that there are enough instances where sick men (ie. suffering what we now call PTSD) were shot - and they were not cowards under the legal definition (although at the time, PTSD was unknown to medicine) to undermine some of the convictions; however evidence has been lost in some other cases which might hinder a proper review; hence a consistent standard - the benefit of the doubt - will be applied to all. It was thought in 1916 that they were cowards (and so convicted) but some were not in fact cowards; the difficulty arises in determining which is which at a distance of 90 years when some evidence has been lost.

This is more a symbolic recognition that an injustice was done to some (indeed, maybe most) of those shot for cowardice. However, doubtless some who were shot for cowardice would probably be found guilty of cowardice if their cases were fully reviewed today (although a different punishment would apply). Hence no quashing of convictions. The relatives of the victims can therefore interpret it as they wish.

frostbite
16th Aug 2006, 11:53
" 2. Therefore they are not "innocent" until proven guilty - they are (legally) guilty."


I'm not at my brightest today, but I can't make sense of that.

419
16th Aug 2006, 12:48
There was a report a couple of weeks ago, about 2 men arrested for murder, 39 years after the event. They were found using DNA evidence, the process for which, was not around at the time.

So, if new technology and knowledge can be used in this instance, why not for the case of the "cowards".
DNA testing wasn't known about 39 years ago, and PTSD wasn't known about 90 years ago.

Taildragger67
16th Aug 2006, 12:56
There was a report a couple of weeks ago, about 2 men arrested for murder, 39 years after the event. They were found using DNA evidence, the process for which, was not around at the time.
So, if new technology and knowledge can be used in this instance, why not for the case of the "cowards".
DNA testing wasn't known about 39 years ago, and PTSD wasn't known about 90 years ago.

Loss of evidence.

In the cases of which you speak, the evidence existed; it had been stored and subjected to new forensic technology (the same can be said of instances where technology has been used to prove that a convicted person could not have been the perpetrator, eg. DNA in rape-and-murder cases).

Such technology has indeed been used to render unsafe, the convictions of executed men.

In these (cowardice) cases, evidence is largely documentary and in some cases, is now incomplete.

swahili
16th Aug 2006, 17:18
"Men actually executed had been found guilty of the following offences:
Mutiny 3
Cowardice 18
Desertion 266
Murder 37
Striking or using violence to a superior 6
Disobedience to a lawful command 5
Sleeping at post 2
Quitting a post without authority 7
Casting away arms 2"
Source: Mud, Bood and Poppycock by Gordon Corrigan.
So very few of these men were shot for "cowardice". Most had physically deserted. "Sorry mate, no machine-gun cover. The gunner's run away."
The thing about war is, it's not very nice.:rolleyes: Lots of people die who shouldn't do. So what are we doing about it? Engaging in 2 unnecessary wars with needless casualties, and giving a meaningless pardon to long dead soldiers.:ugh:
And will those shot for murder be among the pardoned?

Taildragger67
16th Aug 2006, 17:24
It is thought 306 British soldiers were shot for cowardice, desertion or other offences in the 1914-1918 war.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4796579.stm

So it's not just the 'cowardice' charges.

Maybe a caster-away of arms did so because he was shell-shocked; maybe a grunt in the PBI was so rattled he sconned his platoon commander.

Maybe this is a bit of sense in all the madness.

Conflicting opinions:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4797969.stm

air pig
16th Aug 2006, 20:33
Trying to apply 21st centuary standards to the subject, do not take into account the situation at the time, some 85 years ago. The subject of battle fatigue/shell shock/PTSD was not well understood at the time, drug therapy was non existant and psychological support generally not available. Whilst now we understand PTSD etc, we are not treating the current generation of combat soldiers ( term used in its widest sense to cover all three services) adequately.

I would suggest that individuals read any or all of the three books available on the subject of First World War Executions:-

For the Sake of Example by Anthony Babbington
Blindfold and Alone by Corns and Hughes-Wilson ISBN 0-304-35397-3
Shot at Dawn by Putowski and sykes ISBN 0-85052-295-1

You will find that some of the executed had been sentenced to death from previous Court Martial, having had their sentence commuted to imprisonment, some on more than one occasion. Some of the executed where documented as serial deserters, had serious disciplinary records or had commited serious crimes whilst on the run, including murder.


Maybe we should all campaign for the current generation, as they are being as poorly served by the MoD as 85 years ago, with psychiatric services contracted to the Priory group of companies and the closing of the last MILITARY psychiatric facility at Catterick. Many cases of PTSD are not being treated promptly or adequately by the civilian providers as they have NO knowledge of either the Military or War. This also applies to the present generation of the vast majority of politicians.

Brian Dixon
16th Aug 2006, 21:16
More information can be found here: www.shotatdawn.org.uk

A good result that will, hopefully bring peace to the families of those who were shot by their own.

BigEndBob
17th Aug 2006, 06:17
Think the wives of those shot also lost any pension rights.
Now the wives are probably all dead, nows the the time to pardon!

spork
17th Aug 2006, 22:18
All offences in post #30 could easily be down to PTSD, except possibly sleeping at post. In the circumstances maybe that could easily be forgiven. That these men should be put through hell (a lot of those that came back with PTSD might as well have been dead) and then treated so badly says a lot for the officer class, who probably had no idea of the reality of the men's experience.

air pig
17th Aug 2006, 23:44
Sleeping at post was looked at so seriously in that a picquet asleep put every one else at risk.

CAT1
18th Aug 2006, 00:49
There's a fine line between cowardice and common sense. If someone told me to go and get mown down by a machine gun I think I might decline.

swahili
18th Aug 2006, 08:12
... says a lot for the officer class, who probably had no idea of the reality of the men's experience.
Really, so where were the young Lieutenants and 2nd Lieutenants in charge of these men? Oh, that's right, in the trenches, sharing the same horrors that their men were. Subalterns in World War One had the shortest life expectancy of any infantry soldiers.
The idea that all the officers were living the high life in chateaux, while the PBI were up to their necks in a muddy trench is a myth. Just as much as the idea that the infantry spend months in the front line trenches under artillery fire. The average time spent continuously at the front line was 3 days. They were frequently rotated back to support trenches and rear areas for training.
It was a horrific war, but exaggerating the problems of the common soldier, and blaming "the donkeys", does everyone who fought a disservice.

tony draper
18th Aug 2006, 08:29
Ah but the chaps actually running the war the staff officers did indeed live way back in the chateaux, and were universaly hated by all,including the young officers in the mud with the lads.
Read a interesting theory once that it was the new technology,ie the field telephone canned food ect that lead to the stalemate and horror of the trenches,
Wars used to be seasonal,troops had to withdraw at the onset of winter as finding food was difficult until means of preserving food ie canning came about, so the chaps could be kept at it 24/7/365,and the means of delivering it ie the railways and motor transport the new accurate rapid fire artillary meant it was prudent to keep your head down when not actually advancing,hense the trenches, the new transport also meant efficient ammunition delivery to service same of course, also in earlier days the high command had to be in the forward area to see what was going on,with the field telephone they could sit in comfort miles away pouring over maps so they could order the men in the trenches about without getting their uniforms and cavalry boots muddy.
:cool:

henry crun
18th Aug 2006, 08:39
It wasn't just the Lieutenants and 2nd Lieutenants.
The Majors and Lieutenant Colonels at battalion level suffered a casualty rate that was probably as high as any in relation to their numbers.

spork
18th Aug 2006, 20:20
Swahili
The idea that all the officers were living the high life in chateaux, while the PBI were up to their necks in a muddy trench is a myth. Just as much as the idea that the infantry spend months in the front line trenches under artillery fire.I didnít say any of that, your vivid imagination astounds me. Youíve managed to make 138 words out of my 32.

I also didnít say that sleeping at post was acceptable. Forgiven was probably a poor choice of word - how about understandable?

Nick Riviera
21st Aug 2006, 11:21
Spork

You said that the officer class had no idea of the reality of the men's experiences. It was pointed out to you that apart from the very top brass, the officer class were there in the trenches experiencing it in bucketloads. I don't see what your problem is.

swahili
21st Aug 2006, 11:26
Spork
I didn't mean to imply that you said all that, only that they are very common misconceptions. If you thought that it was a personal attack, I appologise.
However, your comment that those shot were "then treated so badly says a lot for the officer class, who probably had no idea of the reality of the men's experience" does read to me like a very general and off-hand condemnation of a large number of people.
As Tony Draper mentioned, this was a new type of war that nobody was prepared for. There were no "great" generals on any side, and people were forced to invent new tactics and strategies. Some of these, most even, didn't work and resulted in terrible loss of life. But the only plausible alternative that I can think of, without giving the generals the benefit of hindsight, would have been to stop the war. A political decision, to be made by civilian politicians at home, miles from the front line, and one which I don't believe was ever seriously considered.
Some people (not necessarily here) seem prepared to forgive the "ordinary soldier" many of his failings (understandably), but are reluctant to assign any motive other that a desire to murder their own men, to officers above a certain rank.

garp
21st Aug 2006, 15:34
Edmund Blunden's "Undertones of War" is one of the better books I've read about the trenchwar in Flanders. Excellent reading material for beside the open fire since autumn has already begun. Several passages describe how higher ranking officers (Blunden himself was a 2nd Lieutenant) fought and died beside their men. If you still feel like some more on the subject than " Happy Oddissey" from Lt Gen Adrian Carton de Wiart is pretty good aswell. The only Belgian ever to receive the VC, lost an arm and an eye in WW1, was emprisonned and escaped in WW2.

spork
21st Aug 2006, 19:28
Nick Riviera
Word for word I said: ďThat these men should be put through hell (a lot of those that came back with PTSD might as well have been dead) and then treated so badly says a lot for the officer class, who probably had no idea of the reality of the men's experience.Ē
If you want to edit this down and then criticise me, thatís fine, but not very sensible. Equally Nick, I don't see what your problem is.

To attempt to be fair, if what I said does read like ďa very general and off-hand condemnation of a large number of people.Ē Then I apologise to those offended. ButÖ Iíve re-read it, and I still donít think it does read like that.

When I think of what Iíve discovered over the years when working on family genealogy with my mother, Iím horrified at what was done to people who were mentally ill as a result of their incredibly valiant efforts in the war. They didnít go out there in that state. That they were then put up against a wall and shotÖ Words fail meÖ

I have also NOT said that officers were not in the trenches. Please oh please, try reading what I DID say rather than fabricating your own interpretation. Iíd appreciate seeing more positive contributions, like Garpís, to this thread.

swahili
Some people (not necessarily here) seem prepared to forgive the "ordinary soldier" many of his failings (understandably), but are reluctant to assign any motive other that a desire to murder their own men, to officers above a certain rank.
If only we could, this many years later, know the motives for thisÖ Iíve read about these terrible events many times in an attempt to understand, just as Iíve been very interested to look at the events for example surrounding the Spanish Civil War. Iím just aghast at the concept of the mentally ill and PTSD soldiers getting this ďcowardĒ treatment. Obviously some posters donít agree with me, and you are entitled to your own opinions of course.

teeteringhead
21st Aug 2006, 20:20
I think it's the blanket pardon that bothers me. Clearly some of them - perhaps most - should not have been shot. But remember that over 3000 were sentenced to death and about 90% were pardoned - by the evil General Staff.

And one of those to be pardoned was reportedly a 4th time offender, who had managed to get back to UK and was found in civilian clothes living with a prostitute. In the course of his arrest, he shot and killed a military policeman. PTSD? - I don't think so.... and what of the descendents/relatives of the Redcap he shot.......

Of course it's different now - but then we used to hang people for stealing a loaf of bread ... should we pardon all of them too??

Nick Riviera
22nd Aug 2006, 11:51
Spork

You accept that the officers were in the trenches, but also say that they had no idea of the men's experiences. So much clearer now.

spork
22nd Aug 2006, 15:14
Nick
As I said, please, try reading what I DID say rather than fabricating your own interpretation. I canít help you with whatever youíre trying to say if itís based on not reading properly.

cavortingcheetah
22nd Aug 2006, 15:35
:hmm:

Perhaps there is something wrong with a society which, while manifesting an inability to comes to terms with its own deficencies, attempts to apply its own morals in judicial judgements on one of the past.:ugh:

spork
22nd Aug 2006, 22:58
I think you would always want to look at the past to see what you could do better. Unfortunately the people who preside over the deficiencies of today do not seem to wish to learn in that manner. Iím not sure they care at all.

This thread on cowardice and officer response has particular meaning for me as my great uncle returned from the trenches in a hell of a state. One of his best mates died right next to him and he was seriously injured. In the field and at home they removed shrapnel from him which turned out to be a mixture of real shrapnel and parts of his mateís skull and teeth. A shadow of his former self, he lived the remainder of his life knowing exactly what those scars on his face meant. I donít think I could have faced that in the mirror every day.

cavortingcheetah
23rd Aug 2006, 04:41
:hmm:

Whilst it may be admirable to study the past in order to ensure that the lessons of history are learned and not repeated; it ill behoves one society to impose its own dubious legal and moral code on another in order to pass an historical and judicial judgement on that society.:{

ORAC
23rd Aug 2006, 06:57
History, in a democratic age, tends to become a series of popular apologies, and is inclined to assume that the people can do no wrong.
A. F. Pollard

Choxolate
23rd Aug 2006, 07:15
" 2. Therefore they are not "innocent" until proven guilty - they are (legally) guilty."


I'm not at my brightest today, but I can't make sense of that.

OK we will take it slowly.

BEFORE a trial there is a presumption of innocence - this means that until the trial reaches a conclusion the accused is legally innocent.

FOLLOWING the trial the accused is no longer the accused but is now either legally guilty (convicted of the offence or offences) or remains innocent (found not guilty).

(There are of course some other possibilites such as the declaration of a mis-trial but it is the concept I am trying to explain so we will not go into every side issue and legal nicety)

All these men were tried and found guilty by legally constituted courts martial, they are therefore legally guilty and are no longer under the presumption of innocence.

JUst thought I would clear that up as I have not been on the forum for a week or so due to illness (now fully recovered thank you).

frostbite
23rd Aug 2006, 12:11
"Therefore they are not "innocent" until proven guilty"

Was the bit that didn't make sense to me - still doesn't.

Glad to hear you are well again.

ORAC
23rd Aug 2006, 12:29
A pardon does not erase the fact that the person was found guilty and convicted of an offence. The effect of the pardon is that the conviction is disregarded to the farthest extent possible, so as the person, or the estate, is relieved of all penalties and other consequences of the conviction.

So they remain guilty, but any surviving spouse, for example, would get a pension. Not sure about backdating.

The kin said it was not about compensation, but the first lawyer has already said he is putting in a claim (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/08/20/ndyett20.xml). :hmm:

Choxolate
23rd Aug 2006, 12:42
"Therefore they are not "innocent" until proven guilty"

Was the bit that didn't make sense to me - still doesn't.

Glad to hear you are well again.
OK final time - these guys were found guilty and hence IN THEIR CASE there is no presumption of innocence AFTER the courts martial (although one assumes there was BEFORE the courts martial). The basic statement "Innocent until proven guilty" is correct but they were found guilty and hence that presumption is no longer applicable.

I was thus countering the point made in an earlier post that these guys should be given a pardon on the basis "Of innocent until proven guilty" because they WERE found guilty (whether we like it or not) therefore that in itself is not a valid reason to grant them a pardon.

G-CPTN
23rd Aug 2006, 13:15
http://images.icnetwork.co.uk/upl/icnewcastle/aug2006/9/8/3AB5F0FC-FDCB-52AA-F2F3FAC88B320FF2.jpg
Pte Giles, an Army pioneer, had a night out with friends, which led to a night away from his barracks in France. The next morning Pte Giles missed role call - which led to his regiment leaving without him.
Mrs Williamson said: "The letter said Peter found out where the regiment was going and caught them up as fast as he could.
"When he got there he was sent to the front line for three days and was then called back. When he arrived, he was court martialled and shot."
http://tinyurl.com/ozu74

BenThere
23rd Aug 2006, 13:22
They should be pardoned because they have paid their price.

The commanders of the time had to have a rigid policy of 'deserters will be shot', and draconian punishment for sleeping on duty and the like. The whole war effort depended on it.

The men were in such a horrific, unbearable situation that the mere mortals among them could only get through another day by believing they had no choice. I marvel at how any of them endured it. You only have to visit Verdun or read Graves to feel profound sorrow at their lot.

To pardon is to forgive, not for their progeny or what a lawyer might scavenge from it, but because it's the right thing to do for those men. It will have no affect on future order and discipline. As the worst day in my military career would have been like a holiday for them, support for a pardon in recognition of their unfortunate lives, and the cost of war they bore, would be very small-minded to withold. They paid in full with their lives for any offenses they may have committed.

Curious Pax
23rd Aug 2006, 14:24
I wish I could have put it so eloquently Ben, well done.

To try and simplify what Choxolate is saying:

The proposal is that these men are granted a pardon: whilst found legally guilty, the state forgives them, and so any penalty stemming from their conviction is null and void - somewhat difficult when the ultimate sentence has been carried out, but that is another debate.

The guilty verdict is not overturned - they are not being found innocent after all.

frostbite
23rd Aug 2006, 14:37
Choxolate, what I am having trouble with is not, in that sentence. Without it, it makes sense to me.

Choxolate
23rd Aug 2006, 15:02
Choxolate, what I am having trouble with is not, in that sentence. Without it, it makes sense to me.
DOH! I see your point mea culpa.

spork
23rd Aug 2006, 19:00
Yes - well said BenThere. we really don't know when we've got it good. Time to say goodnight to this one for me. A special goodnight to Wilfred.

tony draper
23rd Aug 2006, 19:13
Hmmm, surely the act of being pardoned assumes you are indeed guilty of the crime of which you are accused in the first place and have been found guilty of same, but because of circumstances you are being pardoned,ie let off, pretty sure it does in civy circles anyway.
:cool:

Tempsford
23rd Aug 2006, 19:20
I went to the National Arboretum at Alrewas a while ago with #1 son. The Shot at Dawn area of the arboretum has a wooden post for each UK serviceman executed for cowardice with their name attached. This was to represent the posts which they were tied to to be executed. There is also a statue of a soldier tied to a post wearing a greatcoat and he is blindfolded. The statue is of a very young man. Small wreaths have been placed around some of the posts. It is a very humbling place. Our visit to Alrewas focussed our minds to the probability that most of those shot at dawn were very young, scared and in a state of shock who found themselves in front of a firing squad probably completely unaware of what they had done wrong.
Please stop by Alrewas if you have not already done so, it is a truly moving place.

Temps

ORAC
23rd Aug 2006, 20:44
I actually feel a great sense of worry that this will exacerbate the problem...

A pardon does not revoke the original sentence: it does not, therefore, give an ebtitlement to compensation: and it does not vindicate the cases made against individual executions.

I feel, therefore, that those relatives who, in a moment of exuberation, feel they have gained a great victory, will find it turning to salt in their mouths. And, having gained a pardon, will have no grounds for a postumous reversal and acquittal....

G-CPTN
23rd Aug 2006, 21:37
The strange situation with respect to (some) civilian prisoners is that unless they ACCEPT their guilt and show remorse they are unlikely to be granted parole.
Those that continue to protest their innocence (however justified) stand little chance of release. :ugh: