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Remembered Today:

Shot at Dawn soldiers


tjpatti
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Hi All

I got into WW1 via a letter I received from the National Arboretum Memorial, acknowledging receipt of a donation I made and informing me that 'my' soldier was William Edward Anderson, 9828 5th Dorsetshire Regiment 11th Division, executed aged 20. For many years the letter lay in a drawer but, earlier this year, I decided to research 'my' soldier which, incidentally, is how I came across this excellent forum.

I was wondering how many other Pals have a special interest in the soldiers shot at dawn, in whom and why? I'm not interested in discussing the rights and wrongs of the executions so please don't hijack this thread with heated arguments for one side or the other; I'm just curious as to how many Pals are out there with a similar interest to mine, in whom they are interested and why.

Regards

Teresa

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Hi All

I got into WW1 via a letter I received from the National Arboretum Memorial, acknowledging receipt of a donation I made and informing me that 'my' soldier was William Edward Anderson, 9828 5th Dorsetshire Regiment 11th Division, executed aged 20. For many years the letter lay in a drawer but, earlier this year, I decided to research 'my' soldier which, incidentally, is how I came across this excellent forum.

I was wondering how many other Pals have a special interest in the soldiers shot at dawn, in whom and why? I'm not interested in discussing the rights and wrongs of the executions so please don't hijack this thread with heated arguments for one side or the other; I'm just curious as to how many Pals are out there with a similar interest to mine, in whom they are interested and why.

Regards

Teresa

I've a passing interest in a couple of regiments who have had soldiers shot at dawn. I'm trying to write an article on the difference between the romanticiased account of the trial, crime and execution of a specific soldier and the case file and other historic document.

If you haven't already, get to the Public Records Office and pull the court martial file for your man to find out more. Reading through the evidence for and against and the opinions and decisions of the officers at various levels of command as to whether the sentance will be carried out are very interesting - I've looked at half a dozen.

'Shot at Dawn' and 'Blindfolded and Alone' are both very helpful books

CWT

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Teresa,

I don't have an interest 'full stop' in Shot at Dawn men, however I have pushased a couple of books on the subject and when ever I do a Battlefield trip if there is a SAD case nearby, out of interest I will always go and visit the grave and 'gen up' on what happened to the man.

Strangly though, and I cannot really explain why? for some reason I always make a point of walking past all the other graves in the CWGC to acknowledge their sacrifice as well! as i feel sometimes that they get neglected by some Battlefield tourists who head straight for the SAD graves!

Years ago I once quite wrongly thought of them all as cowards, some obviously were, some just the victims of circumstance! however after reading the stories of many of them I always ask myself, what would I have done in the same situation? (run away is often the answer in my head!)

Hopefully this thread will remain low key not be highjacked as its an interesting subject, good luck with your interest and research.

Regards and best wishes,

Scottie.

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I have an interest in SAD but mainly in the French soldiers who were executed. I believe anyone with more than a passing interest in the Great War will have looked at the question of men who were executed. It is a legitimate area of research and it is a pity that it tends to stir very deep emotions so that discussions tend to descend very quickly into insult swaps.

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Hello Teresa

The following are all useful books, the first two giving some cases mentioned but no names:

William Moore, The Thin Yellow Line

Anthony Babington, For the Sake of Example

Julian Putkowski and Julian Sykes: Shot at Dawn

Cathryn Corns and John Hughes-Wilson: Blondfold and Alone

Gerard Oram: Death Sentnces Passed by Military Courts of the British Army 1914-1924 *

Gerard Oram: Military Executions During World War 1

* This includes a list of all death sentences, not just those actually executed, and includes the National Archives file references.

Ron

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I've a passing interest in a couple of regiments who have had soldiers shot at dawn. I'm trying to write an article on the difference between the romanticiased account of the trial, crime and execution of a specific soldier and the case file and other historic document.

If you haven't already, get to the Public Records Office and pull the court martial file for your man to find out more. Reading through the evidence for and against and the opinions and decisions of the officers at various levels of command as to whether the sentance will be carried out are very interesting - I've looked at half a dozen.

'Shot at Dawn' and 'Blindfolded and Alone' are both very helpful books

CWT

Hi CWT

I have been to Kew twice to look at the court martial files for William Anderson. The first time I took notes, which was unsatisfactory once I returned home, so the second time I photocopied the file - interesting reading, as you say. I shall be returning again shortly to photocopy the regimental war diaries up to the point he deserted.

I also have the 2 books you mention plus some others. 'Shot at Dawn' was the first book I bought with any connection to WW1, now I must have about 30-35 in total (only a fraction are about SADs) and my husband, who does not share my interest in all things WW1, is in despair.

Thank you.

Teresa

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my husband, who does not share my interest in all things WW1, is in despair.

Teresa,

get him logged on to the Forum, we will get him hooked! :D

I understand that your research may well be personal but anything you could share with us would be welcomed! However we would understand if you wanted to keep it to yourself.

Regards,

Scottie.

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I have an interest in SAD but mainly in the French soldiers who were executed. I believe anyone with more than a passing interest in the Great War will have looked at the question of men who were executed. It is a legitimate area of research and it is a pity that it tends to stir very deep emotions so that discussions tend to descend very quickly into insult swaps.

Hi Tom,

I'm hoping that those with strong opinions either way will realise this is a 'light' thread, born out of my curiosity after idly surfing the Forum last weekend (not sure if that's the correct verb!) and that I really don't want it to disintegrate into a passionate debate about the rights and/or wrongs of the executions. I did realise there was a risk when I posted my question and tried to contain it as much as possible in the heading and in the post. You are quite right that the subject stirs deep emotions, possibly more than any other WW1 subject, and as to why could be the start of a new thread but I'm not going to begin it!

Any particular reason why the French executions have captured your interest?

Regards

Teresa

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my husband, who does not share my interest in all things WW1, is in despair.

Teresa,

get him logged on to the Forum, we will get him hooked! :D

I understand that your research may well be personal but anything you could share with us would be welcomed! However we would understand if you wanted to keep it to yourself.

Regards,

Scottie.

This is a bit off topic but I did take him to Ieper last week and he was significantly moved by the cemeteries and by the Menin Gate (he was almost in tears here - I can tell you that as the chance of him reading this forum are next to nil). However, back in Blighty, he is back to normal and complaining about the time I spend on the forum, about the books overtaking the house and why don't I write all my research up as a book so that he can retire and live off its earnings, blah, blah, blah.

I am flattered that you would like me to share my research with the forum but I'm not sure I will, not because it's personal in any way but because I don't want to tip this thread over into vitriolic debate.

Regards

Teresa

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Hi Tom,

......................

Any particular reason why the French executions have captured your interest?

Regards

Teresa

Hi Teresa. I am interested in the French part in the war and of course this led to an interest in the French Mutinies in 1917 and how the authorities, General Petain in particular, dealt with them. This led me to a French book which was also mainly centred on the men shot after the mutinies but gave a lot of information on the whole area of military executions in the French army from 1914 to 1918. Very interesting as the author, Guy Pedroncini was the first person to be given limited access to the archives on these matters since the war. Lots of absolutely new information and figures were brought to light. The French dealt with this area in an entirely different manner to the British. There were a whole series of investigations and reviews in the 1920s and 30s which rehabilitated specific soldiers and in some cases, compensated the relatives. Pedroncini however, was the first to see the general archives and was the first to collate and publish overall figures. His book is not in any way dramatic or emotional. It is a presentation of the facts and figures. The title of the book is " Les Mutineries de 1917" and as far as I am aware has not been translated.

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