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  • Should They be Pardoned

    I was searching Google News and came across a WW1 based artcivle about the approximately 300 British soldiers that were executed during the war for desertion/cowardice. In Canada we also have a few soldiers that were shot during the war for similar 'crimes.' If my memory serves me right these soldiers have been denied the right to be put into Cananda's Book of Remembrance. What are people's thoughts on the topic?

    http://www.barnettimes.co.uk/news/lo...y_soldiers.php
    4
    Yes, their executions were wrong.
    50.00%
    2
    No, they failed to perform their duty.
    25.00%
    1
    Other
    25.00%
    1
    There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full. -Henry Kissinger

  • #2
    I'm not sure how I feel about it. I was thinking of how to respond to this question and all I could think of was that part in All Quiet On The Western Front about Detering I believe his name was. The cherry blossoms came into bloom and alls he wanted to do was go home and tend his fields. As you know the field police caught him, and you know what that meant. Up to this point he had been a good soldier and comrade. He just gave into a human weakness. However you cann't just have your troops packing up and going home. Tough question. Thought provoking question. Hope you don't mind me turning the table on you, but what do think Napoleon?

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    • #3
      What you have to remember is that back then we had a society which knew nothing about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and regarded anyone as suffering from what they called "Shell-Shock" as a coward.

      Conditions in the trenches were beyond anything anyone had ever encountered before, so you had people in a hellish situation, and a situation that no-one had been in before. These guys didn't know what they were signing up for when they enlisted - at least chaps these days have SOME idea of what combat might be like.

      I say they should be forgiven - but only because of the unique circumstances as described above. It shouldn't set a precedent for subsequent conflicts, or the future.

      Dr. S.
      Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

      www.sinisterincorporated.co.uk

      www.tabletown.co.uk

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Doctor Sinister
        What you have to remember is that back then we had a society which knew nothing about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and regarded anyone as suffering from what they called "Shell-Shock" as a coward.

        Conditions in the trenches were beyond anything anyone had ever encountered before, so you had people in a hellish situation, and a situation that no-one had been in before. These guys didn't know what they were signing up for when they enlisted - at least chaps these days have SOME idea of what combat might be like.

        I say they should be forgiven - but only because of the unique circumstances as described above. It shouldn't set a precedent for subsequent conflicts, or the future.

        Dr. S.
        Very good points Dr. S.

        Comment


        • #5
          Well, obviously looking at it from a 21st century perspective I think their executions were wrong. Most of the soldiers were suffereing from 'shell shock' and deserved to be in a hospital. Yet, if I were an Allied General in WW1 I might respond differently. I know that this is a war of attrition and that whoever breaks first will lose the war. I don't want to have soldiers deserting or being cowards and thus setting a bad example for others. I need to keep the soldiers in line and keep them fighting. By executing 'cowards' and deserters I provide a stiff example to the other men. Hopefully, preventing further desertions and cowardice. I don't know if I was a general back then, I may just have done it.
          There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full. -Henry Kissinger

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          • #6
            Should they be pardoned? Not quite sure. If they were suffering from shell shock, yes of course but if they were just cowards or reprobates....... to put them in the same book of Rememberance than the valiant combattants of Vimy or Passchendeale, I don't know......
            http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

            Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

            Comment


            • #7
              I absolutely agree with you.
              There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full. -Henry Kissinger

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by dannybou
                Should they be pardoned? Not quite sure. If they were suffering from shell shock, yes of course but if they were just cowards or reprobates....... to put them in the same book of Rememberance than the valiant combattants of Vimy or Passchendeale, I don't know......
                OK, I see your point, but how do you distinguish this after all these years?

                Dr. S.
                Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

                www.sinisterincorporated.co.uk

                www.tabletown.co.uk

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Doctor Sinister
                  OK, I see your point, but how do you distinguish this after all these years?

                  Dr. S.
                  This would require an investigation. A visit to the archives in Ottawa, viewing war diaries of the units these men belonged to. As long as the records are accurate, you could probably find your answers there. If soldier A fought at Ypres, the Somme, Vimy, but refused Passchedaele let's say, then I think we could infer shell shock. On the other hand, if soldier B was court-martialed twice for being AWOL and never participated in combat because he was always finding excuses to stay away, then we could infer cowardice.

                  This can be done if it hasn't been done yet, but time and some expense would be in order. It would be an interesting challenge though.
                  http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

                  Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Maybe they saw the futility of mass infantry charges against entrenched machine guns:quest:

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cpgor
                      Maybe they saw the futility of mass infantry charges against entrenched machine guns:quest:
                      No argument here. WW1 was a carnage that should have never happened. But nevertheless, a soldier is asked to perform his duty without question (except if the orders are immoral etc...) and since millions of soldiers paid the price should those who refused to fight and do their duty be:

                      1. Be pardonned; and
                      2. Have their names inscribed on memorials ( the Vimy Memorial comes to mind for Canada )

                      My opinion, and this is only my opinion, Number 1 above should be Yes, regardless. But for Number 2? As I stated in my above post.
                      http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

                      Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Should They be Pardoned

                        Originally posted by Napoleon
                        I was searching Google News and came across a WW1 based artcivle about the approximately 300 British soldiers that were executed during the war for desertion/cowardice. In Canada we also have a few soldiers that were shot during the war for similar 'crimes.' If my memory serves me right these soldiers have been denied the right to be put into Cananda's Book of Remembrance. What are people's thoughts on the topic?

                        http://www.barnettimes.co.uk/news/lo...y_soldiers.php
                        A touchy situation. I guess the operative question would have been: Did he hide with the intent of not returning to his unit? Was he so unhinged by the blast that he was not able to do any more than find the safest place he could? Did he intend never to return to his unit.

                        If he deliberately evaded service, then, yes, I would have executed him. His only excuse would have been that he was physically and/or mentally able to return to battle.
                        Mens Est Clavis Victoriae
                        (The Mind Is The Key To Victory)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dannybou
                          This would require an investigation. A visit to the archives in Ottawa, viewing war diaries of the units these men belonged to. As long as the records are accurate, you could probably find your answers there. If soldier A fought at Ypres, the Somme, Vimy, but refused Passchedaele let's say, then I think we could infer shell shock. On the other hand, if soldier B was court-martialed twice for being AWOL and never participated in combat because he was always finding excuses to stay away, then we could infer cowardice.

                          This can be done if it hasn't been done yet, but time and some expense would be in order. It would be an interesting challenge though.
                          I think Danny's points are very valid. As long as we're looking retroactively at WW I is there anyway we could court court-martial many of the English and French generals (ie, Haig) who blindly sent their men to slaughter while they were miles behind the front. Personally I think they deserve a firing squad far more than anyone who broke after months/years in the trenches.
                          Lance W.

                          Peace through superior firepower.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Lance Williams
                            I think Danny's points are very valid. As long as we're looking retroactively at WW I is there anyway we could court court-martial many of the English and French generals (ie, Haig) who blindly sent their men to slaughter while they were miles behind the front. Personally I think they deserve a firing squad far more than anyone who broke after months/years in the trenches.
                            Exactly. Haig would be my first on the trial list.
                            http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

                            Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              desertion, they deserve to be shot. if they were just shell-shocked, pardon them

                              Comment

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