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15 Nov 2010 236 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.

 

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.

 

This image is similar to one I posted last August but re-worked to try and show the dawn sky and the morning mist.

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.

 

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.

 

This image is similar to one I posted last August but re-worked to try and show the dawn sky and the morning mist.

comments (9)

Well Les as you say heaven knows what these people went through, great capture
Les Auld: I've just watched a programme on the Somme and Paschedale and the horrors are there in front of us but yet no remain so distant. Thanks for the comment Derek.
I remember this part of Arboretum well from when Ange and I visited. It was very moving and really brought home the horror that was the First World War. A very appropriate reminder at this time of remembrance Les
Les Auld: It really did strike a chord Bill, than is why I went back specifically to take this picture. Thanks for the comemnt.
  • Chris
  • England
  • 15 Nov 2010, 06:44
This is ghastly Les: not the picture but the sentiments of the time
Les Auld: Different times, different world Chris, but un-excusable non the less. Thanks for the comment.
  • Louis
  • South Africa
  • 15 Nov 2010, 08:04
This is such an excellent interpretive picture, with dawn sky and all. I will make it a likey.

WW1 and its atrocities (that idiot generals were left in charge) is something that I believe is one of the darkest hours of humanity since the dark ages.

If politicians knew what they were doing, there would have been no war. Not that anyone has learnt, PM's and Presidents are still at it.

If Generals (the British and allied) had the vaguest idea how to handle a campaign of the nature, that war could have been over in less than 6 months.

Yet, they received honours, medals and sometimes even promotion. I would like to see that people like those would be called to task even if post-humously. If the deserters could be pardoned afterwards, the leaders of the time should be stripped of rank and any gains the made in that war.

Same with the bankers etc. In the direst of times they still get bonus upon bonus. How irresponsible can they be allowed to get? Just the fact that they know that retribution follows such behaviour would make them think twice.
Les Auld: Thanks Louis for taking the time to comemnt on this, it does make you wonder just what evils are out there. History is very important and should be used to remind us of the horrors of war. Unfortunately not everyone then thinks before embarking on such ventures now.
War is bad enough but this makes me feel sick inside. It is also clear that a pardon was not being offered but had to be forced out. Thank goodness for this sculpture./
Les Auld: Appreciate the comment Chad, something we should never forget as well.
Louis echoes my sentiments precicely.
Les Auld: And mine Chad.
This breaks my heart, Les...as if that theatre of war was not bad enough. (:o|
Les Auld: It just added to the horror Rosalyn, thanks for the comment.
A wonderful shot Les. It's a disgrace that this ever happened & even more of a disgrace that it took twenty years for them to be granted pardons.
Les Auld: It is difficult to understand the issues surrounding this but at least they were resolved, thanks for the comment Tim.
It may have taken a long time but in the end these men got justice.

It was a terrible thing, both for them and those who had to carry out the punishment - something I realised not long ago when I read a truly poignant and heartbreaking account of the events surrounding one execution.
Les Auld: Yet the generals who directed it all get away with it, something that will not be seen again though. Thanks for the comment Ellie.

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