|The Shot at Dawn Memorial, Staffordshire, UK|
On Saturday 29 October 2016, a bracing Autumnal morning, and with a light drizzle threatening, three additional stakes were added to the Shot at Dawn Memorial (created by Birmingham artist Andy deComyn) at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, England.
The date had been suggested to Andy deComyn by Lee Dent and Richard Pursehouse of the Chase Project military research group and members of the Wolverhampton branch of the Western Front Association. They explained that two of the three ‘mutineers’ that were pardoned in 2006 (six years after the memorial was finished) had been executed on that date exactly a century ago (the third mutineer being executed in 1917).
Andy checked the information provided by Lee and Richard and WFA NZ member Geoff McMillan, who on a visit in 2015 had first asked why the three men had seemingly been ‘omitted.’
Andy explained that originally the campaign for the soldiers to be pardoned did not include those executed for mutiny as it was not felt that they would be granted a pardon. However, when the pardons were finally granted six years after the installation of the memorial, it also included the mutineers. Andy felt that if the Government had pardoned the three mutineers, then they ought to be added to the memorial and he therefore added the extra posts himself and organised the dedication.
Andy set about seeking permission to alter his memorial from the National Memorial Arboretum, and he received a quick and positive response to his request. This left the tricky issue of tracking down the relatives of the three ‘mutineers’ and to invite them to the ceremony.
Geoff had meanwhile discovered that ten years ago New Zealander David Braithwaite (the nephew of Jack Braithwaite) had similarly enquired while visiting the N.M.A why his relative (Jack Braithwaite of the New Zealand Otago Regiment) was not included on the memorial, and fully supported Geoff. Geoff met with David and subsequently contacted Lee and Richard, whom he had met in 2015 (see Bulletin July 2015 issue ANZAC ceremony on Cannock Chase). They focussed on the relatives of the remaining two mutineers, Gunner William Lewis from Edinburgh and Jesse Robert Short from Newcastle upon Tyne (Short had been in the ‘Tyneside Irish’ Brigade, although he had been born in Wales).
Scottish newspaper The Sunday Mail was contacted and ran a short article on Gunner Lewis that featured an interview with his great nephew Bryan Ritchie, who knew nothing about his relative, yet alone what had happened to him.
Click here to read the full article
Source: staffordshiregreatwar.com, November 2016
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