Shot at dawn
Something I try to do with my novels is tie them in to a larger pictureâ€”O JERUSALEM pokes around the realization that, if the British had done things differently during the Mandate, we might have a different set of problems in the Middle East today; WITH CHILD confronts the terrible way we as a society just lose kids through the cracks.
In JUSTICE HALL I made use of a bit of British history that was shocking during the Great War, and shockingly unfinished into the present. 306 young men (mostly enlisted men–officers, you will be astonished to hear, were given a more generous treatment) who had their minds battered by the unrelenting horror that was trench warfare broke under the strain. This happens in every war, and we treat them. Except in the Great War, the first time any of that technology had been used, broken minds and nerves were called cowardice, and the men were hauled in front of a wall at dawn and shot.
And they were never pardoned. Through years of efforts on the part of families and those simply interested in justice, work was done,, but time and again, the British government refused to hear the cause.
Until this week.
Des Browne, the Minister for Defence, yesterday announced that the Government will now amend the Armed Forces Bill due to be debated in the House of Lords in October. The amendment will grant posthumous pardons to the 306 soldiers who were executed in the Great War.
Read about it on the Shot at Dawn site linked to above, and here.
Their families, at last, may rest in peace.