BLINDFOLD AND ALONE: British Military Executions in the Great War, by Cathryn Corns & John Hughes-Wilson
Between September 1914 and November 1920, the British Army executed 346 British soldiers by firing squads. Most of these (266) were for desertion in the face of the enemy. Controversial even at the time, these executions of soldiers amid the horrors of the Western Front continue to haunt the history of the war, with a Parliamentary campaign today for blanket posthumous pardons. This new (2001) book is a complete history of this emotive subject. The authors have used materials only recently made available to examine the most contentious Courts-Martial to illustrate the realities of soldiering in WWI. All of these executions are placed in the military, social, legal, and medical context of the period. At a time when psychiatry hardly existed, when the death penalty was still widely applied, and where young men were suddenly exposed to the terror of industrial warfare at a time when Britain was fighting for its very existence, this book offers an explanation as to how and why these executions could have occurred. Hard cover. 543 pages. Fully footnoted.