Shot at Dawn Memorial

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Shot at Dawn Memorial

The Shot at Dawn Memorial is a monument at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas, in Staffordshire, UK. It memorialises the 306 British Army and Commonwealth soldiers executed after courts-martial for cowardice or desertion during World War I.[1][2]

The memorial was created by the British public artist Andy De Comyn. It was created in 2000 as a gift from the artist to the relatives and was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum by Gertrude Harris, daughter of Private Harry Farr, in June 2001. Marina Brewis, the great-niece of Lance Corporal Peter Goggins, also attended the service.[2]

Soldiers accused of cowardice were often not given fair trials; they were often not properly defended, and some were minors.[3][4] The usual cause for their offences has been re-attributed in modern times to post-traumatic stress syndrome and combat stress reaction.[3][4] Another perspective is that the decisions to execute were taken in the heat of war when the commander's job was to keep the army together and fighting.[5]

The families of these victims often carried the stigma of the label of "coward".[2][4] Another side to this form of "justice" is the lasting emotional pain caused to those who were in the firing squads, shooting those found guilty.[3]

Britain was one of the last countries to still dishonour these victims of shell shock. In 1993, John Major emphasized, to the House of Commons that pardoning the men would be an insult to those who died honourably on the battlefield and that everyone was tried fairly.[3][6] However, in 2007, the Armed Forces Act 2006 was passed allowing the soldiers to be pardoned posthumously, although section 359(4) of the act states that the pardon "does not affect any conviction or sentence."[7]

The stake of Private Herbert Burden


The memorial portrays a young British soldier blindfolded and tied to a stake ready to be shot by a firing squad. The memorial was modelled on the likeness of 17-year-old Private Herbert Burden, who lied about his age to enlist in the armed forces and was later shot for desertion. It is surrounded by a semicircle of stakes on which are listed the names of every soldier executed in this fashion. These include:

  • Private John Abigail, 8/Norfolk Regiment
  • Private George Ainley, 1st/4th Battalion, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • Private James Archibald, 17th Battalion, Royal Scots
  • Lance Sergeant H. Ashton, 11th Battalion, Cameronians
  • Private William Baker, 26th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
  • Rifleman R. L Barker, 6th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
  • Private Joseph Bateman, 2/South Staffs Regiment
  • Sapper Robert Bell, 123 Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • Private J. Bennett, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
  • Private D. J. Blakemore, 8th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment
  • Private Albert Botfield, 9th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment
  • Private William Bowerman, 1/East Surrey Regiment
  • Private Thomas Brigham, 1/10th Battalion, Manchester Regiment
  • Private C. Britton, 1/5th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
  • Private F. Broadrick, 11th Battalion, Warwickshire Regiment
  • Private A. Brown, 10th Battalion, Black Watch
  • Private Archibald Browne, 2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment
  • Private Herbert Francis Burden, 1st Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers
  • Private Robert Burton, 6th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment
  • Private J. Byers, 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers
  • Private Herbert H. Chase, 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers
  • Rifleman F. W. Cheeseman, 18th Kings Royal Rifle Corps
  • Private G. E. Collins, 1st Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment
  • Private J. Crampton, 9th Battalion, Yorks & Lancs Regiment
  • Rifleman James Crozier. 9th Battalion, The Royal Irish Rifles
  • Private J. J. Daly, 1st Battalion, Connaught Rangers
  • Private Edward Delargy, 1st/8th Battalion, Royal Scots
  • Private Thomas Docherty, 2nd Battalion, King's Own Scottish Borderers
  • Rifleman Thomas Donovan, 16th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps
  • Private Walter Dossett, 1st/4th Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment
  • Private Thomas Downey, 6th Leinster Regiment
  • Private Thomas Downing, 6th South Lancashire Regiment
  • Sub Lieutenant Edwin Dyett, Nelson Battalion, Royal Naval Division
  • Private A. Evans, 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers
  • Private Alfred E. Eveleigh, 1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
  • Private G. Everill, 1st Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment
  • Private Harry Farr, 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
  • Private Ernest Fellows, 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment
  • Lance Corporal J. S. V. Fox, 1st Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, attached 3rd Division Cyclists’ Company
  • Private A. Frafra, Gold Coast Regiment
  • Private Evan Fraser, 2nd Battalion, Royal Scots
  • Private J. W. Fryer, 12th Battalion, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment
  • Private Robert Gawler, 1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
  • Private D. Gibson of 12th Battalion, Royal Scots
  • Lance Corporal Peter Goggins, 19th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
  • Private F. C. Gore, 7th Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
  • Private Thomas Harris, 1st Battalion, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
  • Private Bert Hartells, 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment
  • Private T. Hawkins, 7th Battalion, Royal West Surrey Regiment (Queen’s)
  • Private Thomas Highgate, 1st Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment
  • Lance Corporal James Holland, 10th Cheshire Regiment
  • Private R. Hope, 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
  • Private Thomas Hope, 2nd Battalion, Leinster Regiment
  • Private H. Hughes, 1st/5th Battalion, Yorks and Lancs Regiment
  • Private William Hunt, 18/Manchester Regiment
  • Private William Hunter, 1/Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
  • Private J. J. Hyde, King's Royal Rifle Corps
  • Private Albert Ingham, 18/Manchester Regiment (Attd. 90th Coy. MGC)
  • Corporal Frederick Ives, 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment
  • Private W. Jones, 9th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Private C. La Liberte, 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • Driver Alexander Lamb, 21st Battery, 2nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
  • Private Ernest Lawrence, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment
  • Private F. Loader, 1/22nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
  • Private Alfred Longshaw, 18/Manchester Regiment[2][8]
  • Lance Corporal Allassan Mamprusi, Gold Coast Regiment
  • Rifleman Samuel McBride, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
  • Private Charles McColl, 1st/4th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment
  • Private John McFarlane, 4th Battalion, King's Liverpool Regiment
  • Private B. McGeehan, 1/8th Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment
  • Private J. S. Michael, 10th Battalion, Cameronians
  • Private L. Mitchell, 8th Battalion, Yorks and Lancs Regiment
  • Private Thomas Lionel Moles, 54th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • Private H. Morris, 6th Battalion, British West Indies Regiment
  • Private Joseph Nisbet, 1st Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment
  • Private A. Parry, 2nd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
  • Private Louis Phillips, 6th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
  • Private Albert Henry Pitts, 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
  • Second Lieutenant Eric Skeffington Poole, 11th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
  • Corporal George Povey, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
  • Private Albert Rickman, 1st Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers
  • Sergeant John Robins, 5th Wiltshire Regiment
  • Private John Robinson, 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment
  • Private George Ernest Roe, 2nd Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • Private William Scotton, 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
  • Private J. Seymour, 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
  • Lance Corporal Jesse Robert Short, 24th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, Tyneside Irish
  • Private W. H. Simmonds, 23rd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
  • Rifleman F. N. Slade, 2/6th Battalion, London Regiment
  • Private James Smith, 17th Battalion, The King’s (Liverpool Regiment)
  • Private W. Smith, 3/5th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers
  • Private Victor Manson Spencer, 1st Battalion, Otago Regiment of the New Zealand Division
  • Private J. Steadman, Machine Gun Corps
  • Private R. Stevenson, 1/4th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
  • Private Stanley Stewart, 2nd Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers
  • Private Alfred Thompson, 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment
  • Private R. T. Tite, 13th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
  • Private Frederick Turner, 6th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers
  • Private William J. Turpie, 2nd Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
  • Sergeant J. T. Wall, 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment
  • Private G. Watkins, 13th Battalion, Welsh Regiment
  • Private A. H. Westwood, East Surrey Regiment
  • Private J. H. Wilson, 4th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • Private W. Wycherley, 2nd Manchester Regiment
  • Private R. Young, 11th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d "Tribute to WWI 'cowards'". BBC news. 21 June 2001. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Sweeney, John (14 November 1999). "Lest we forget the 306 'cowards' we executed". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Shot at dawn: the scared young men who lied to fight in Flanders". London: The Independent. 27 May 1997. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Fenton, Ben (16 August 2006). "Pardoned: the 306 soldiers shot at dawn for 'cowardice'". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Bellamy, Christopher (20 February 1993). "Major refuses pardons for executed soldiers". London: The Independent. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "Soldiers shot at dawn honoured after 90 years". London: The Guardian. 21 February 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  8. ^

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Coordinates: 52°43′29″N 1°43′28″W / 52.7248°N 1.7244°W / 52.7248; -1.7244