View Full Version : "Executed" or "Murdered"

10th Dec 2017, 14:26
What has this to do with aviation history I hear you ask. Well. yesterday I was privileged to be with colleagues from RAFA Sud Ouest France on a chilly Pte de Grave at the mouth of the Gironde for the 75th Anniversary of Op FRANKTON. During several of the speeches reference was made to Hitler's notorious "Commando Order" which resulted in Commandos who had been captured being "executed". Now the aviation bit - I have heard the same expression used in relation to the 50 RAF officers killed after the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III. I always understood that "executed" meant judicially killed after due process of law in a constituted court. These examples, and there are many others eg the captured SAS killed after Op BULLBASKET in out part of France, were sure cases of "murder" not "execution", and should be termed a such, or am I just being old and difficult. Might be coloured by talking yesterday to the nephew of Lt McKinnon, one of those so killed.

10th Dec 2017, 14:51
Wander00: You are absolutely correct. They were all murdered.
Here's another example:



This was at Wormhoudt in 1940.

Heathrow Harry
10th Dec 2017, 15:09
I don't think there is a difference if there is no chance of getting off......... which you would have in a fair trial

If you are killed because of who you are this is essentially the same as the good old Tudor/Stewart standby of an Act of Attainder - which declares you guilty by Act of Parliament and no worries about jury, evidence or even charges...

Judicial Murder of course - but a lot of people would say drone strikes aren't any different

10th Dec 2017, 15:12
The murder of the 50 Stalag Luft III P.O.W's was of course one of the factors weighting the decision to apply the death sentence to Hermann Goering.

10th Dec 2017, 15:24
. . . and the lesson to be learned?
Don't lose.

Heathrow Harry
10th Dec 2017, 20:59
I think Mr Goering made the same point.................

Mr Mac
11th Dec 2017, 07:27
One of the reasons for Hitlers order re Commandos I read, was that unfortunatly some Commandos had been captured on a raid and had a paper copy of there orders, in which it stated no prisoners were to be taken. I can understand why this would be given the Commandos type of operation, but carrying a written order stating that, was to say the least unfortunate. I belive handcuffing of POWS for a while also came about due to this, but stand to be corrected. As for the Stalag Luft escape and subsequant killings I would most deffinetly agree with your comments.

Mr Mac

11th Dec 2017, 13:18
Mr Mac - thanks - I recall seeing that "basis" for the "Commando Order" somewhere, but I still have the view that killing captured or surrendered prisoners without trial is Murder

Mr Mac
11th Dec 2017, 14:11
When I was doing my SSC I talked to an ex Arnhem vet from the Paras who said the hardest and most dangerouse time he felt for any soldier or Airmen was surrendering no matter if German / British / American. This was just due to the close proximity of what may have only just taken place in battle, and comrades or indeed civillians lost, be that by bombing / straffing or fighting on the ground. I would totally agree with your comments, but as we do know this does happen, and from my own readings (and no doubt your own)everyone has done it at some time, to a greater or lesser degree.
Mr Mac

11th Dec 2017, 14:16
I seem to recall hearing that some of the 50 including Bushell were shot in the back to make it appear they were trying to escape.

12th Dec 2017, 02:04
I still see this casual and incorrect use of 'executed' in the media these days. Ignorance.

Genghis the Engineer
12th Dec 2017, 12:42
Indeed, and also in an aviation context, the targeting of various terrorist leaders from armed drones surely is similarly questionable - the fact that it's done by "our side" shouldn't change our view of that.


12th Dec 2017, 13:29
Not trying to excuse it, but I seem to recall that the NAZI (not German) justification for "executing" escaped prisoners was that they were deemed spies as they were not in uniform and so liable to immediate execution

just saying

12th Dec 2017, 13:36
Regarding Mr. Mac's comments on the handcuffing of PoWs, my father, who was in Stalag Luft III, said that this happened to him and colleagues after German prisoners captured during the disastrous Dieppe raid were handcuffed by Canadian troops pending their transfer to ships taking them to the UK. He told me the 'cuffs could be easily opened by a modified sardine can key.

21st Dec 2017, 20:19
. . . and the lesson to be learned?
Don't lose.

The victor rewrites history?

21st Dec 2017, 22:04
Buster11, German PoWs in Canada were at one point shackled as a reprisal. They were soon able to remove the cuffs, which they melted into uselessness in their hut stoves, stoked up for the purpose...

More cuffs were sourced, which the PoWs also destroyed. Eventually the order was rescinded, mainly because the local police were getting fed up with the cost of replacing their stock of cuffs!

22nd Dec 2017, 08:55
My late Uncle Roger who served in The Ox and Bucks Light Infantry was captured after the fall of France and imprisoned in OFLAG7B. He and his comrades were shackled for the best part of a year, the chains only being removed on Christmas Day 1942 and New Year's Day 1943.

On liberation his POW column was subjected to the appalling ordeal of being machine-gunned by American Thunderbolts when many casualties were sustained. It was, he said, the most shocking experience that he had suffered during his war service.