Target Centermass

8/15/2006

Pardons in Sight for WWI Soldiers Shot at Dawn

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:53 pm

For some U.K. families, haunted for decade upon decade, a justice of sort may be pending.

Dozens of Scottish soldiers who were shot for cowardice or desertion during the First World War are finally set to win pardons, it emerged last night. Defence Secretary Des Browne announced that the government is to seek parliamentary approval to pardon more than 300 British soldiers who were executed during the First World War for alleged “military offences”.

The announcement came hours after the family of Private Harry Farr, who was shot for cowardice during the conflict aged just 25, revealed they had been told he was to be pardoned.

Mr Browne said: “Although this is a historical matter, I am conscious of how the families of these men feel today. They have had to endure a stigma for decades.

“That makes this a moral issue too, and having reviewed it, I believe it is appropriate to seek a statutory pardon. I hope we can take the earliest opportunity to achieve this by introducing a suitable amendment to the current Armed Forces Bill.”

More than 300 Commonwealth troops – including 39 Scots – were shot by their fellow soldiers during the Great War. Their alleged crimes included desertion, cowardice, and sleeping at their posts.

But campaigners who have fought for years to have the men’s names cleared believe the majority were young and suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome after months in the trenches and enduring endless artillery bombardment.

Many of them, including some as young as 17, were sentenced to execution after courts martial lasting less than 30 minutes.

Pte Farr’s granddaughter, Janet Booth, said the family’s solicitor had been informed last night that their wish had been granted. “We are over the moon,” she added.

The move will require an amendment to the Armed Forces Bill currently going through Parliament.

John Dickinson, of Irwin Mitchell, said: “This is complete common sense and rightly acknowledges that Pte Farr was not a coward, but an extremely brave man.

“Having fought for two years practically without respite in the trenches, he was very obviously suffering from a condition we now would have no problem in diagnosing as post-traumatic stress disorder or shellshock as it was known in 1916.”

Pte Farr’s daughter Gertrude Harris, 93, added: “I am so relieved that this ordeal is now over. I have always argued that my father’s refusal to rejoin the front line, described in the court martial as resulting from cowardice, was in fact the result of shellshock, and I believe that many other soldiers suffered from this, not just my father. I hope that others who had brave relatives who were shot by their own side will now get the pardons they equally deserve.”

Some of these men may well have been deserters and cowards. That said, I truly believe this would not be the case for a great many who were courageous but worn individuals, burdened by a long, grinding war that gnawed at the soul while many cases of inept leadership cost needless gallon upon gallon of precious blood. For a good look at the years of poor Allied command decisions that almost certainly contributed to many of the involved cases, I again recommend John Mosier’s The Myth of the Great War.

Here’s wishing the pardons come that are deserved, as soldiers today would be granted greater understanding after years in the meatgrinder — if any ever again faced such enduring exposure. Here’s also wishing peace for their families.

What I’m Reading Tonight

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:54 pm

The School

On the first day of school in 2004, a Chechen terrorist group struck the Russian town of Beslan. Targeting children, they took more than eleven hundred hostages. The attack represented a horrifying innovation in human brutality. Here, an extraordinary accounting of the experience of terror in the age of terrorism.

It’s quite lengthy, so much so that I haven’t had a chance yet to finish it. Still, I can assure that it is engrossing. Hat tip to LGF.

Theocracy on the 100-Year-Plan

When President Bush said we’re at “war with Islamic fascists,” he was referring to Osama bin Laden and his acolytes in London trying to blow U.S. airliners out of the Atlantic skies.

But America has its own “Islamic fascists” right here at home. Once they amass the numbers, they secretly plan to nullify our Bill of Rights and religious freedoms and create their own Muslim state ruled by Islamic law. They’ve got a 100-year plan, but they’re already making inroads.

Astoundingly, some of them head the allegedly moderate Muslim groups who protested Bush’s use of the phrase “Islamic fascists.”

Unsurprisingly, our enemies, those who hope to doom our society, our civilization, our grandchildren’s freedom, are already amongst us. Most of America hasn’t realized that yet. Hat tip to In the Bullpen.

Ralph Peters: Lessons So Far

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:45 am

Ralph Peters looks at Israel’s current campaign in Lebanon against Hezbollah, the most recent engagement against expansionist and radical Islamic terrorists, and his outlook ain’t cheery.

Israel’s war against the Middle East’s first true terrorist army provides tough military and strategic lessons – old, new, and all too often disheartening. Israel’s been winning on the ground. And still losing the war.

This bitter conflict – in which most casualties on both sides of the border are civilians – raises troubling questions, too. Some are identical to those confronting us in Iraq. Many have troubling answers. Others have no real answers at all.

The elementary fact – which far too many in the West deny – is that our civilization has been forced into a defensive war to the death with fanatical strains of Islam – both Shi’a and Sunni. We may be on the offensive militarily, but we did not start this war – and it’s all one war, from 9/11’s Ground Zero, through Lebanon and Iraq, and on to Afghanistan.

Until that ugly fact gains wide acceptance, we’ll continue to make little decisive progress. American or Israeli, our troops are trying. But the truth is that we’re really just holding the line.

We have not yet begun to fight. And many among us still dream of avoiding this war altogether.

It can’t be done.

Mr. Peters goes on to state and expound upon seven lessons to be taken to heart from the current Israeli-Hezbollah affair.

  • 1. You can win every tactical engagement and still lose at the strategic level.
  • 2. The global media can overturn the verdict of the battlefield.
  • 3. If you start off on the wrong foot in war, you may never recover your balance.
  • 4. Technology alone can’t win 21st-century wars.
  • 5. Never underestimate your enemy.
  • 6. In war, take the pain up front, and the overall suffering will be far less.
  • 7. Terrorism is no longer a limited, diffuse, disorganized threat.

[hat tip to Chap, who lists the above seven lessons before adding his own thoughts]

Mr. Peters follows these lessons by asking and answering two key questions, the second of which is the one which could devour many depressing hours of meditation — “Can we win “Eastern” wars with Western values?” I must concur with Mr. Peters answer to his own question:

I doubt it.

This question is going to eat at our consciences for years to come – even as we learn to do what must be done.

[…]

The wars of the future will be won by those with the greater strength of will.

The emphasis in the last quote was added by me and I want to expand a little on that quote. This is not only true of the wars of the future but also of wars of the past and present and essentially any war that is fought to be won. At some point in time after World War II, Western Civilization took up the notion that wars can be fought in a civilized manner. Actually, that has been a periodic historic flirtation, with such short-lived traditions in the past as not targeting officers, agreed-upon truces to clear casualties from battlefields, etc. Still, after WWII, when the West last took the gloves off to a large degree, we have yet again to pursue war so fully, even though our advances in technical lethality have repeatedly been faced by uncivilized barbarity, cruelty and bloody sacrifice by our enemies. It should be noted that our enemies have happily utilized advances in technology also, but have shown no restraint in their employment against targets from which the West has refrained. And yet, we continue to find our troops facing such foes on the battlefield, foes that would just as well kill our troops, slaughter our civilians or manipulate our seemingly-willing media.

Western Civilization must stop hitting the snooze button and finally wake up to the threat. It is global. It is primeval. It is not going away via impotent United Nations resolutions and cease-fires.

[Regarding Mr. Peters, as I’ve said before, I’ll always happily link his work, as previously done here, here, here and here. I’ll also happily plug my introduction to Peters, which was his somewhat-prescient novel, The War in 2020. I first cracked that entertaining adventure in the gunner’s seat of an M1 while waiting on a gunnery range at Ft. Hood, travelling in the way-back machine to May of ’93.]

Powered by WordPress