Shot at Dawn, WW1 Army Executions

During the fighting in Europe against the German Army in WW1, a number of soldiers from the British Army were executed at dawn, they were deserters, or shot for cowardice against their enemy. Special firing squads of 12 were selected to carry out the dreadful order to execute as many as 306, some of them as an individual in these death squads were forced to shoot their best friend.

The British Government has recently agreed ( on the 16th. of August 2006 ) to introduce a Bill in to Parliament that will grant postumous pardons to all those executed in that manner.

The Memorial in England for those Shot At Dawn in WW1.
 The ‘Shot at Dawn’ memorial to the 306 executed soldiers at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire England.
The Memorial in England for those Shot At Dawn in WW1.
The ‘Shot at Dawn’ memorial to the 306 executed soldiers
at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire England.

The war in France and Belgium.
To gain but 12 kilometres of territory, 630,000 died or were wounded, the war had turned from the offensive to the defensive, both sides dug in, in trenches stretching across France, facing each other. Night patrols would creep out to probe the opposition, also to cope with the worry of poison gas introduced at Ypres.

The practice of executing soldiers found guilty of dereliction of duty went on right to the end of WW1, only four days before the armistice on the 11th. of November 1918, two soldiers died at dawn for desertion.

Numbers executed.
Of the 306 soldiers executed by British Firing Squads, 23 were Canadians, 22 Irish and 5 New Zealanders.

In September 2000, the New Zealand Parliament passed into law a Pardons Act allowing for pardons for the 5 New Zealand soldiers executed for military offences.

The Government of Canada has offered an apology and formally announced its regret for the execution of its soldiers. On the 11th. of December 2001, Veteran Affairs Minister, Doctor Ron Duhamnel rose in the House of Commons and with sincerity and passion, read the names of those 23 Canadians into the Parliamentary record and announced their names will be written into Parliament Hill's Book of Remembrance. He was whole - heartedly supported buy all of Canada's opposition parties.

Action of Australia.
At the time, Australia to its credit, was the sole country within the then Empire that would not allow its soldiers, all of whom were volunteers, to be executed. The 129 Australians ( including 119 deserters ) that were sentenced to death during the war, and 117 were in France were not shot.

US Soldiers.
Between April of 1917 and November 1918, American Courts- Martial sentenced 24 US deserters to death, but none were actually shot.

It is reported that some 600 French soldiers were put to death. It is not widely known but the French Decimation ( the shooting of every tenth person in a unit ) of the 10e Compagnie of 8 Battalion of the Regiment Mixte de Tirailleurs Algeriens. During the retreat at the beginning of WW1 these French-African soldiers refused an order to attack. They were shot on the 15t. of December 1914, near Zillebeeke in Flanders.

About 150,000 soldiers deserted from the German Army, many of them fled to neutral countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland. Only 18 from those caught were executed. In WW2 10,000 deserters were shot.

List of the 306 soldiers executed by firing squads in WW1.

The 306 executed men

  • Pte Abigail J H
  • Pte Adamson J S
  • Labourer Ahmed M M
  • Pte Ainley G
  • Sgt Alexander W
  • Pte Allsop A E
  • Pte Anderson J A
  • Pte Anderson W
  • Pte Ansted A T
  • Pte Archibald J
  • Pte Arnold F S
  • L/Sgt Ashton H
  • L/Cpl Atkinson A
  • Pte Auger F
  • Pte Baker W
  • Pte Ball J
  • Pte Barker W
  • Pte Barnes J E
  • Rfn Barratt F M
  • Pte Bateman F
  • Pte Bateman J
  • Pte Beaumont E A
  • Sapper Beeby E
  • Dvr Bell J
  • Rfn Bellamy W
  • Pte Benham W
  • Pte Bennett J
  • Pte Black P
  • Pte Bladen F C H
  • Pte Blakemore D J
  • Pte Bolton E
  • Pte Botfield A
  • Pte Bowerman W
  • Pte Brennan J
  • Pte Briggs A
  • Pte Briggs J
  • Pte Brigham T
  • Pte Britton C
  • Pte Broadrick F
  • Pte Brown A
  • Pte Brown A
  • Pte Bryant E
  • Pte Burden H F
  • Pte Burrell W H
  • Pte Burton R
  • Pte Butcher F C
  • Pte Byers J
  • Pte Byrne S\Monaghan M
  • Pte Cairnie W
  • Pte Cameron J
  • Pte Card E A
  • Pte Carey J
  • Pte Carr J
  • Pte Carter H G
  • Pte Carter H
  • Pte Cassidy J
  • Pte Chase H
  • Rfn Cheeseman F W
  • Pte Clarke H A
  • Pte Clarke W
  • Pte Collins G
  • Pte Comte G
  • Pte Crampton J
  • Pte Crimmins H
  • Pte Crozier J
  • Pte Cummings T
  • Pte Cunnington S
  • Pte Cuthbert J
  • Pte Cutemore G
  • Pte Dalande H
  • Pte Davis R M
  • Pte Davis T
  • Pte Degasse A C
  • Pte DeLargey E
  • Pte DeLisle L
  • Pte Dennis J J
  • Pte Depper C
  • Pte Docherty J
  • Pte Docherty T
  • Rfn Donovan T
  • Rfn Donovan T
  • Pte Dossett W
  • Pte Downey P
  • Pte Downing T
  • Sub Lt Dyett E (RNVR)
  • Pte Earl W
  • Pte Earp A G
  • Pte Elford L
  • Pte Evans A
  • Pte Eveleigh A
  • Pte Everill G
  • Pte Fairburn E
  • Pte Farr H
  • Pte Fatoma A
  • Pte Fellows E
  • Pte Ferguson J
  • Pte Flynn H
  • Pte Foulkes T
  • Pte Fowles S
  • Pte Fox J
  • L/Cpl Fox J S V
  • Pte Frafra A
  • Pte Fraser E
  • Pte Fryer J
  • Pte Gawler R
  • Pte Gibson D
  • Pte Giles P
  • Sgt Gleadow G E
  • L/Cpl Goggins P
  • Pte Gore F C
  • Pte Graham J
  • Pte Haddock A J
  • Dvr Hamilton T G
  • Pte Hamilton/Blanchard A
  • Pte Hanna G
  • Rfn Harding F
  • Pte Harris E W
  • Pte Harris L
  • Pte Harris T
  • Pte Harris/Bevistein A
  • Pte Hart B
  • Pte Hartells H H
  • Dvr Hasemore J W
  • Pte Hawkins T
  • L/Cpl Hawthorne F
  • Pte Hendricks H
  • Pte Higgins J
  • Pte Higgins J M
  • Pte Highgate T J
  • Pte Hodgetts O W
  • L/Cpl Holland J
  • Pte Holmes A
  • Pte Holt E
  • Pte Hope R
  • Pte Hope T
  • Pte Hopkins T
  • Pte Horler E
  • Pte Hughes F
  • L/Cpl Hughes G E
  • Pte Hughes J
  • Pte Hunt W
  • Pte Hunter G
  • Pte Hunter W
  • Rfn Hyde J J
  • Pte Ingham A
  • Rfn Irish/Lee G
  • L/Cpl Irvine W J
  • Cpl Ives F
  • Pte Jackson E
  • Pte Jeffries A L
  • Pte Jennings J
  • Pte Johnson F/Charlton J
  • Pte Jones J T
  • Pte Jones R M
  • Pte Jones W
  • Gunner Jones/Fox W
  • Pte Kerr H H
  • Pte Kershaw J
  • Pte King J
  • Pte Kirk E
  • Pte Kirman C H
  • Pte Knight H J
  • Pte LaLancette J
  • Pte LaLiberte C
  • Dvr Lamb A
  • Cpl Latham G
  • Pte Lawrence E A
  • Cpl Lewis C
  • Pte Lewis G
  • Pte Lewis J
  • Pte Ling W N
  • Pte Loader F
  • Pte Lodge H E J
  • Pte Longshaw A
  • Pte Lowton G H
  • Pte MacDonald H
  • L/Cpl MacDonald J
  • Pte Mackness E
  • Sapper Malyon F
  • L/Cpl Mamprusi A
  • Pte Martin H
  • Pte Mayers J
  • Rfn McBride S
  • Pte McClair H/Rowland
  • Pte McColl C F
  • Rfn McCracken J E
  • Pte McCubbin B
  • Pte McFarlane J
  • Pte McGeehan B
  • Pte McQuade J
  • Pte Michael J S
  • Pte Milburn J B
  • Pte Milligan C M
  • Pte Mills G
  • Pte Mitchell A
  • Pte Mitchell L
  • Pte Moles T L
  • Pte Molyneaux J
  • L/Cpl Moon W A
  • Pte Morris H
  • Dvr Mullany J
  • Pte Murphy H T
  • Pte Murphy A
  • Pte Murphy P
  • Pte Murphy W
  • Pte Murray R
  • Pte Neave W
  • Pte Nelson W B
  • Pte Nicholson C B
  • Pte Nisbet J
  • Pte O'Connell B
  • Pte O'Neill F
  • Pte O'Neill A
  • Pte Palmer H
  • Rfn Parker A E
  • Pte Parry A
  • Pte Pattison R G
  • Pte Penn M
  • Pte Perry E
  • Pte Phillips L R
  • Pte Phillips W T H
  • Pte Pitts A
  • 2nd. Lt Poole E S
  • Pte Poole H
  • Cpl Povey G H
  • Pte Randle W H
  • Cpl Reid J
  • Pte Reid I
  • Pte Reynolds E J
  • Pte Richmond M R
  • Pte Rickman A
  • Pte Rigby T H B
  • Pte Roberts J W
  • Pte Roberts W W
  • Sgt Robins J J
  • Pte Robinson A H
  • Pte Robinson J
  • Pte Robinson W
  • Pte Roe G E
  • Pte Rogers J
  • Drummer Rose F
  • Pte Sabongida S
  • Pte Salter H
  • L/Cpl Sands P
  • Pte Scholes W
  • Pte Scotton W
  • Pte Seymour J
  • Pte Sheffield F
  • Pte Simmonds W H
  • Pte Sims R W
  • Pte Siniski D
  • Pte Skilton C W F
  • Pte Slade F W
  • Pte Sloane J
  • Pte Smith J C
  • Rfn Smith J
  • Pte Smith W
  • Pte Smith W
  • Pte Smythe A
  • Dvr Spencer J
  • Pte Spencer V M
  • Pte Spry W T
  • Pte Stead F
  • Pte Steadman J B
  • Pte Stevenson D
  • Pte Stevenson R
  • Pte Stewart S
  • L/Sgt Stones J W
  • Pte Swain J
  • Dvr Swaine J W
  • Trooper Sweeney J J
  • Pte Tanner E
  • Pte Taylor J
  • Pte Taylor J
  • Pte Taysum N H
  • Rfn Templeton J
  • Pte Thomas J
  • Pte Thompson A D
  • Pte Thompson W L
  • Pte Tite R T
  • Pte Tongue J
  • Pte Troughton A
  • Pte Turner F
  • Pte Turpie W J
  • Sgt Wall J T
  • L/Sgt Walton W
  • Pte Ward G
  • Pte Ward T
  • Pte Watkins G
  • Pte Watts T W
  • Pte Watts W
  • Pte Webb H J
  • Pte Welsh C
  • Pte Westwood A H
  • Pte Wild A
  • Pte Williams H
  • Pte Wilson J H
  • Cpl Wilton J
  • Pte Wishard J
  • Rfn Woodhouse J
  • Pte Worsley E
  • Pte Wright F
  • Pte Wycherley W
  • Rfn Yeoman W
  • Pte Young E
  • Pte Young R.

Where two names appear, the first refers to the name used by the soldier to register for service and the second is their real name. Researchers at the Shot at Dawn campaign discovered the true identities of those soldiers. List of names courtesy of

List of Cemetaries where those 306 executed are now buried.


Aeroplane Cemetary
Bedford House Cemetary
Bleuet Farm Cemetary
Coxyde Military Cemetary
Dickebush New Military Cemetary
Dranoutre Military Cemetary
Duhallow A.D.S. Cemetary.
Ferme-Oliver Cemetary
Hagle Dump Cemetary
Hyde Park Corner (Royal Berks) Cemetary
Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetary
La Clytte Military Cemetary
Lijssenthoek Military Cemetary
Locre Churchyard
Locre Hospice Cemetary
Maple Leaf Cemetary
Mendinghem Cemetary
Nine Elms British Cemetary
Perth Cemetary (China Wall)
Poperinghe New Military Cemetary
Poperinghe OldMilitary Cemetary
Reninghelst New Military Cemetary
The HutsCemetary
Vlamertinghe Military Cemetary
Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetary
Westhof Farm Cemetary
White House Cemetary
Ypres Resevoir Cemetary


Acheux British Cemetery
Achicourt Road Cemetery
Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension
Aix-Noulette Communal Cemetery Extension
Albert Communal Cemetery Extension
Arras Road British Cemetery
Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension
Bancourt British Cemetery
Barlin Communal Cemetery ExtensionBeauval Communal Cemetery
Bellacourt Military Cemetery
Bertrancourt Military Cemetery
Bethune Town Cemetery
Beuvry Communal Cemetery Extension
Borre British Cemetery
Boulogne Eastern Cemetery
Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery Extension
Bray Military Cemetery
Brown's Road Military Cemetery
Bucquoy Road Cemetery
Bully-Grenay Communal Cemetery, British Extension
Bully-Grenay Communal Cemetery, French Extension
Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery  (Special Memorials)
Canadian Cemetery No.2, Neuville St. Vaast
Carnoy Military Cemetery
Cerisy-Gailly Military Cemetery
Chapelle d' Armentières Old Military Cemetery
Chocques Military Cemetery
Cité Bonjean Military Cemetery
Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension
Côte 80 French National Cemetery
Dartmoor Cemetery
Duisans British Cemetery
Ecoivres Military Cemetery
Englebelmer Communal Cemetery Extension
Esquelbecq Military Cemetery
Estaires Communal Cemetery
Faubourg d' Amiens Cemetery
Favreuil British Cemetery
Fienvillers British Cemetery
Fins New British Cemetery
Forceville Communal Cemetery and Extension
Gezaincourt Communal Cemetery Extension
Ghissignies British Cemetery
Gorre British And Indian Cemetery
H.A.C Cemetery
Habarcq Communal Cemetery Extension
Ham British Cemetery
Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery
Hermonville Military Cemetery
Hersin Communal Cemetery Extension
La Kreule Military Cemetery
Lapugnoy Military Cemetery
Le Grand Beaumart British Cemetery
Le Grand Hasard Military Cemetery
Les Baraques Military Cemetery
Lillers Communal Cemetery
London Cemetery, Neuville-Vitasse
Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery
Louez Military Cemetery
Louvencourt Military Cemetery
Mailly-Maillet Communal Cemetery   Extension
Maroc British Cemetery
Mazingarbe Communal Cemetery
Mazingarbe Communal Cemetery Extension
Morbecque British Cemetery
Neuville-Bourjonval British Cemetery
Noeux-les-Mines Communal Cemetery
Noeux-les-Mines Communal Cemetery Extension
Norfolk Cemetery
Péronne Communal Cemetery Extension
Pont-d'Achelles Military Cemetery
Quatre-Vents Military Cemetery
Ribemont Communal Cemetery Extension
Roclincourt Military Cemetery
Roclincourt Valley Cemetery
Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery
Romeries Communal Cemetery Extension
R.I. Rifles Graveyard
Sailly Labourse Communal Cemetery
Sailly-sur-la-Lys Canadian Cemetery
Sandpits British Cemetery
St. Nicolas British Cemetery
St. Pol Communal Cemetery Extension
St. Sever Cemetery Extension
St. Vaast Post Military Cemetery
Ste. Catherine British Cemetery
Ste. Marie Cemetery, Le Havre
Sucrerie Cemetery, Colincamps
Suzanne Military Cemetery No.3
Terlincthun British Cemetery
Trois Arbres Cemetery
Vieille-Chapelle New Military Cemetery
Villers Station Cemetery
Wanquetin Communal Cemetery Extension
Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery
Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension
'Y' Farm Military Cemetery

The living relatives of those executed have at long last gained some relief by the pardons.

We now live in totally different times in 2006, back during WW1 it was deemed necessary to shoot 306 so called deserters or men showing cowardice to Make an example of them, no doubt to deter many others from following their example.

The conditions of trench warfare were appalling, and if it had happened today, one would hope they might have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress, and given treatment rather than face a firing squad.

Book cover for Shot At Dawn book covering these tragic events of WW1


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