Letter: Lessons of war

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The execution of 306 soldiers for fabricated charges in the First World War is one of the greatest unresolved injustices this century. The injustice is exceeded only by successive governments' refusal to grant posthumous pardons.

Most of those executed were volunteers, vulnerable teenagers shot for alleged cowardice and desertion. In fact most were suffering shell shock, which we now recognise as post-traumatic stress disorder. The motive for the executions was to instil fear.

A moment's thought reveals the real reason why no pardon is forthcoming: the likelihood of considerable compensation claims for unlawful killing and, more importantly, posthumous indictment of senior military figures for war crimes.

Nothing can be achieved by perpetuating the injustice; in this week of remembrance, grant pardons so healing and forgiveness can begin.


Harwell, Oxfordshire