"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Monday, May 30, 2016

WWI British mutineers to be honoured at memorial

The Shot at Dawn memorial at The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire
The Shot at Dawn memorial at The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire
The soldier believed to be the inspiration behind the television drama The Monocled Mutineer is to be commemorated nearly 100 years after he was shot at dawn for mutiny.

Jesse Robert Short was executed for his role in the mutiny against military police at Étaples army base camp in France in September 1917.

He was pardoned in 2006 and will now have his name added to the Shot at Dawn memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, which was set up to honour British army and Commonwealth soldiers executed for desertion and other capital offences during the First World War.

Corporal Short, a Northumberland Fusilier, who is remembered in the 2012 song Mutiny by the folk rock band the Levellers, is to be included after a campaign by relatives of other pardoned soldiers.

The memorial features stakes marking 306 soldiers, arranged around a white statue of a blindfolded private, said to be modelled on Private Herbert Burden, a 17-year-old Northumberland Fusilier who falsified his age to enlist and was shot for deserting his post.

Two other men will have their names added: Gunner William Lewis of the Royal Field Artillery, from Leith, Edinburgh, who was shot for mutiny in 1916, and Private Cecil John “Jack” Braithwaite, of New Zealand Expeditionary Force 2nd Battalion Otago Regiment, also executed at Étaples in 1917.

His nephew, David Braithwaite, said his inclusion would right an injustice. Private Braithwaite’s father, he said, died four months after his execution — “we are all certain, of a broken heart.”

Source: The Times, Catherine Philp, April 26 2016


Mutineer shot at dawn to be commemorated nearly 100 years after his execution

Jesse Robert Short was executed on 4 October 1917
Jesse Robert Short of the Northumberland Fusiliers (24th 'Tyneside Irish' Battalion)
was executed on 4 October 1917. Photo courtesy of The Chase Project.
A SOLDIER from the North-East thought to be the real inspiration behind the TV drama the Monocled Mutineer is to be commemorated nearly 100 years after he was shot at dawn.

Although the hit-series centred on Percy Toplis, researchers believe the mutineer depicted was in fact based on Jesse Robert Short, who was executed for his part in the mutiny at Etaples, in France, in September 1917.

A corporal in the 24th Battalion (Tyneside Irish) Northumberland Fusiliers, Short apparently incited his men to throw an officer into the river.

It has been discovered that Cpl Short’s name and that of two other soldiers involved in separate mutinies, do not feature on the “Shot at Dawn” memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The memorial was created in 2000 by artist Andy DeComyn as his gift to the relatives of the 306 men that had been pardoned and features a stake for each man surrounding a statue of a blindfolded soldier.

The memorial was created before mutineers were pardoned in 2006 and campaigners have now won permission to add three stakes to the memorial. They are trying to trace Cpl Short’s relatives to play a part in a dedication ceremony October.

Cpl Short, was working as a miner at Heworth Colliery and living in Parkinson Street, Felling Gateshead, with his wife Dinah and two young children, when the First World War began.

On September 11 1917, Cpl Short was at the base camp at Etaples, where having recovered either from wounds or illness, he was undergoing re-training before being returned to the front line.

Disturbances broke out in the camp that day, possibly caused by the harsh treatment meted out by camp’s instructors, and one group of 80 soldiers carrying placards and armed with sticks marched on a bridge across the river Canache.

Shot a Dawn statue
Shot at Dawn statue
Cpl Short tried to persuade the soldiers to lay down their arms and referring to its commander said: “Don’t listen to that officer, That bugger ought to have a rope tied round his neck with a stone on it and be chucked into the river.”

Cpl Short was court martialled the next day, found guilty of inciting mutiny and sentenced to death. He was executed weeks later.

Campaigners will also be remembering New Zealander Private Cecil John ‘Jack’ Braithwaite, and British Gunner William Lewis, 124th Brigade Royal Field Artillery, both executed in October 1916.

Military historian Richard Pursehouse, who with Lee Dent founded The Chase Project, said: “Following a meeting the National Arboretum Landscapes and Memorials Committee it has been agreed that three additional stakes can be incorporated at the site.

“Relatives of Pte Braithwaite are hoping to come over for the ceremony. We would very much like to get hold of relatives of Cpl Short to take part.”

Anyone who may be related to Cpl Short should email thechaseproject@gmail.com

Source: The Northern Echo, Gavin Engelbrecht ,19 Apr 2016


WW1: Loos survivor Private George Everill was shot at dawn

George Everill's grave at Poperinghe New Military Cemetery
George Everill's grave at Poperinghe Military Cemetery
Private George Everill, from Shelton, was shot and killed by a firing squad of British soldiers after being convicted following a court martial of desertion

AS the dawn light crept into his cramped cell, Private George Everill knew his time had run out.

George had spent a sleepless night in the uncomfortable cell at Poperinghe Town Hall, trying to resolve himself to what was about to happen – yet at the same time preying for a last minute reprieve he knew would not come.

An Army chaplain had shared his vigil through the night, and the religious instruction that had been imparted had given George some comfort.

During those long hours of darkness, George had plenty of time to think back on his life – and the events that had brought him to that cramped cell.

He thought about his wife, Lilly, at the home they had made at Trinity Passage, in Hanley, and of his mother Elizabeth, waiting for news of her son at George's childhood home in Mount Pleasant, Shelton.

Then came the long awaited, long dreaded, tramp of boots in the corridor outside his cell, the rattle of keys being jingled in the lock.

The door was thrown open and George was met by a grim faced officer, ready to escort him to the courtyard outside, where an execution post and the 12 men who made up the firing squad waited.

George stared at the man who would lead him to his death, holding the officer's gaze. He allowed the guards to take him outside, blinking into the light.

The courtyard was deathly silent. The senior officer who had sentenced George to death just a day or two earlier presided over the grim ceremony.

George was led to the thick wooden post which dominated the courtyard. His hands were bound behind his back as he was secured to the post.

A medical officer walked over to him and pinned a white square of paper over his heart. He also went to secure a blindfold around his eyes, but George may have refused it – many did, instead preferring to stare directly at death, into the eyes of the men ordered to be his executors.

The firing squad took up position, reluctant to carry out the duty they must perform, the execution of a comrade, a man who, under other circumstances, could have been stood shoulder to shoulder with them on the battlefield.

But George had been accused and found guilty of desertion. With an unenviable military record of dereliction of duty and insubordination, he was sentenced to death.

That sentence, passed during a court martial at Poperinge Town Hall, where he had then been jailed, had been confirmed by the commander in chief of the British Army, Field Marshall Douglas Haig.

From that moment, George knew he had no hope left.

The charges against him, that he had deserted from his battalion, were read out once more, echoing around the courtyard.

Click here to read the full article

Source: The Sentinel, Richard Ault, May 29, 2016

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DPN particularly wishes to thank The Chase Project for this submission.