Some two years ago Sky News reported that 306 soldiers from World War 1 who were court-martialed for cowardice and executed, had been pardoned by the British Government. The cemetery where these men were buried was also shown. Isolated rustic looking poles, each with a plaque with the man’s name, protruded out of the ground. There was something rather tragic about this cemetery with its statue of a young soldier standing blindfolded waiting to be shot.
There was an interview with the daughter of a man, Private Harry Farr who was sentenced and shot for cowardice. It was desperately sad to watch the pain of this woman as she told the story. During a particular battle Harry Farr began to experience a bad attack of what was then called shell-shock. He was hospitalized for a period of six weeks. When the doctors diagnosed him as being well enough, he was sent back to the front straight in to the battle of the Somme. In the engagement he once again had an attack and refused to go over the top. He was court-martialed for cowardice and sentenced to be shot.
The execution was carried out and his parents received notification that on such and such a date he had been shot at dawn for cowardice. His father, an ex – military man and his brothers, who had also fought in the war, never spoke about him. The daughter telling the story shared how difficult this was and also spoke about the shame and abuse that was heaped on them as a family. His name was not placed on the roll of honour and his military pension was cut off, leaving his family destitute having to eke out an existence through all sorts of menial and degrading ways.
The last ten years had been spent by the daughter trying to get him a pardon, which finally came through together with 305 others. One could see the relief and joy of her success. It was extremely touching. Let it also be said that there were three seventeen-year-olds among those who were shot. When you think of your own son at age seventeen it boggles the mind.
What kind of structure and perception did this to that man and the others and their families? It was a structure permeated with unredeemed masculine energy, which firstly, believed the lie that war is the only means of negotiation, and secondly, that when the true humanity of one of its own revolts against the insanity, you destroy it because it wasn’t “brave” or “tough” enough.
It’s striking to note that it was a woman, positive female energy, who finally restored sanity, stability and compassion to a situation and a memory that was totally warped and unbalanced.