Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembrance

It's Remembrance Sunday, with the annual ceremony and march past the Cenotaph in Whitehall, to commemorate the war dead of too many conflicts. It seemed more sombre than usual, perhaps because of the ongoing situation in Iraq...

The Shot at Dawn Pardons Campaign also marched as part of the procession today, having finally won a posthumous conditional pardon a few days ago from the British goverment, for all the soldiers executed by their own colleagues during the First World War. Over 300 young men were shot by firing squads following a tersory Court Martial process, which has now been acknowledged as being a contradiction of justice for those who were executed, for offences such as desertion, cowardice or simply falling asleep in the trenches. Many were very young, some under-age boy soldiers, others with years of military service behind them. Intended as a disciplinary measure by the army, the Campaign has offered evidence of class and race bias in the often arbitrary legal processes used to execute military 'justice'. All aspects of war are horrible, but it seems even more brutal when officers order the death of their own colleagues at the hands of their friends. 90 years on, the reasons which led to many of those being shot at dawn would be recognised today as 'post-traumatic stress syndrome' or 'combat fatigue'... at least some views have changed...

I came across the Shot at Dawn campaign a few years ago. The image (above) is of a statue by sculptor Andrew DeComyn, based on a 17 year old soldier who was blindfolded and shot; the wooden posts behind the statue represent each of the other soldiers who were also tied to a post and shot. It is just one long-concealed story from one war; there are so many others...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have a listen to the Remembrance podcast on iTunes or on the Royal British Legion blog. It's a good way to remember.