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03 Aug 2010 320 views
 
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photoblog image Shot at Dawn

Shot at Dawn

 

During the so called Great War 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers were exeuted for desertion or cowardice. Most of them were sentenced after a short trial at which no real opportunity for defence was allowed.

 

Today, it is recognised that several of them were under age when they volunteered and that many of them were suffering from shell shock or post traumatic stress disorder. I cannot conceive the shear terror that the conditions in the trenches at the front must have induced in such young, and not so young, soldiers sent there after minimal training and expected to endure machine gunning, mines containing hundreds of tons of explosives and the barbed wire they had to cross before coming into contact with the enemy.

 

The statue 'Shot at Dawn' is modelled on Private Herbert Burden, of the 1st Battallion Northumberland Fusiliers, who was shot at Ypres in 1915 aged 17. His name, and the names of those others who suffered the fate of being shot at dawn are listed on the stakes that surround the statue.

 

Shot at Dawn

 

After the 75 year Secrecy Act was lifted relatives and comrades started campaigning for pardons and, eventually, in 2006 a mass pardon was granted, 98 years later, but it did take over twenty years for it to happen.

 

The memorial is located in the most easterly point of the National Memorial Arboretum, at the foot of the National Forest in the centre of England, which means that it is the first place to be touched by the dawn light.

Shot at Dawn

 

During the so called Great War 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers were exeuted for desertion or cowardice. Most of them were sentenced after a short trial at which no real opportunity for defence was allowed.

 

Today, it is recognised that several of them were under age when they volunteered and that many of them were suffering from shell shock or post traumatic stress disorder. I cannot conceive the shear terror that the conditions in the trenches at the front must have induced in such young, and not so young, soldiers sent there after minimal training and expected to endure machine gunning, mines containing hundreds of tons of explosives and the barbed wire they had to cross before coming into contact with the enemy.

 

The statue 'Shot at Dawn' is modelled on Private Herbert Burden, of the 1st Battallion Northumberland Fusiliers, who was shot at Ypres in 1915 aged 17. His name, and the names of those others who suffered the fate of being shot at dawn are listed on the stakes that surround the statue.

 

Shot at Dawn

 

After the 75 year Secrecy Act was lifted relatives and comrades started campaigning for pardons and, eventually, in 2006 a mass pardon was granted, 98 years later, but it did take over twenty years for it to happen.

 

The memorial is located in the most easterly point of the National Memorial Arboretum, at the foot of the National Forest in the centre of England, which means that it is the first place to be touched by the dawn light.

comments (7)

Of all the memorials at the National Memorial Arboretum this was the one I found the most moving.
Les Auld: As I did Bill, it was the one I wanted to see but it took a bit of finding. Thanks for the comment.
  • Chris
  • England
  • 3 Aug 2010, 08:06
Heavens - this is so powerful Les. Thank you for showing it
Les Auld: Thanks Chris, appreciate the comment.
  • zed
  • Australia
  • 3 Aug 2010, 08:42
tragic
Les Auld: Thanks Zed.
My goodness, what an impressive sight, all those stakes, with names, and ages you wouldn't believe. Very moving indeed! And the statue embodies perfectly what it must have been like. For new generations to never ever forget the cruelty of war.

Hard to believe that those boys lying there have been dead for nearly 100 years. Sad, really sad.
Les Auld: Something we should never forget Marion, thanks for the comment.
  • vintage
  • Brisbane Australia
  • 3 Aug 2010, 12:46
This is one of the thing that the army should be so ashamed of thanks for showing this
Les Auld: Thanks Vintage smile
We are planning to go here Les, it is only a short journey from us. When I was young I worked with a chap who had shell shock from WWII, every so often he just went into a sort of spasm, poor man, but he lived a normal life for all of that.
Les Auld: Well worth going Brian, I intended just to spend an hour but three hours later I was still wandering around. Thanks for the comment.
I find these images, and, indeed the subject so moving. I was delighted to hear that these poor folk had received pardons, but how sad that it took 75 years. (:o|
Les Auld: It took far too long Rosalyn, thanks for the comment.

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