CLIO 7 (1) - page 48

mously. Therefore, it is clear to see why the ‘Shot
at Dawn’ campaigners feel so passionately about
getting justice for the men who, they believe, were
unfairly punished. After years of disregard for the
mental battle fought by these troops- it seems that
an official pardon by the Ministry of Defence is an
appropriate and respectful way of remembering the
men and giving their families some peace of mind.
The opposing opinion, however, is that 90
years on from the war, we simply cannot under-
stand the circumstances of the people involved,
and thus any pardon may have little value. Correlli
Barnett, a military historian argued in the Tele-
graph that a mass pardon was meaningless. He
said ‘These were decisions taken in the heat of a
war when the commanders' primary duty was to
keep the Army together and to keep it fighting’.
His point is interesting in highlighting the fact that
we are coming from a completely different social
setting with different moral values. This may lead
us to question whether our society has a right to
condemn events of the past - simply because such
acts would be frowned upon in the modern day.
Another point is that many resources must be used
to look into each individual case to check its legit-
imacy- this is especially difficult considering the
lack of information due to the time that has passed
since these events occurred. What's more, failure
to prove a soldier truly suffered from PTSD could
result in further grief for their family.
The ‘Shot at Dawn’ campaign and controversy is
interesting in bringing up the question of whether
we should attempt to understand and look into
cases from so long ago. Is it healthy to reminisce on
mistakes of the past? Or should our society learn
from them and move on?
In the case of the ‘Shot at Dawn’ campaign,
further research was a necessary and logical step to
take. The pardon and memorial for the soldiers was
worth more than just consolation for their families.
Although we have come a long way since the days
of the GreatWar, the stigma around mental health
- particularly in the army - is still very much preva-
lent. I listened to a Radio 5 interview in which two
soldiers serving in Syria spoke about PTSD along-
side the pressure there is in the army to uphold a
macho architype. Both soldiers had suffered with
PTSD brought on by wartime experiences, and the
fact that it had not been properly dealt with had led
to many problems. Both had developed bad drink-
ing habits, as they were using alcohol as a way of
channelling their emotion. Furthermore, they had
both experienced deterioration of relationships due
to the fact that they were isolating themselves. It is
clear that this problem needs to be acknowledged,
so granting a pardon for theseWW1 troops was a
good way of helping to raise awareness and possi-
bly, to help empower troops of today to speak out
about their personal struggles.
Looking into this issue was worthwhile as it
is still relevant today due to the shameless discrim-
ination faced by the soldiers struggling silently with
the devastating effects of war. More importantly,
however, granting the pardon prevents the inno-
cent victims of ww1 from disappearing into the past
labelled as cowards - keeping what is left of their
memory and reputation intact.
Erica Jeans 10W
The ‘Shot at Dawn’ memorial was modelled on
the likeness of 17 year old Private Herbert Bur-
den, who lied about his age to enlist and was
later shot for desertion.
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