smile asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

Why were men shot for saying they were frightened in WW1.?

Like, that so sounds wrong in this day and age.


Wow. Well said, Grendle.

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    At the time (1914-18), there was no understanding of 'shell shock' or Post Traumatic Disorder. Soldiers suffering from it often deserted or disobeyed orders and were subject to the strict military discipline of the time. None were ever shot because they were simply frightened, but if a soldier refused a command or ran away in the face of the enemy, then they were routinely disciplined, and a lot were shot. Mutineers were also routinely shot.

  • 1 decade ago

    Men and boys were not executed for saying they were scared . They were executed for desertion (running away).Shell shock or Post Traumatic Syndrome or Disorder were not a recognised medical condition then.

    Foe example.

    Herbert Morris from Jamaica a black war volunteer.

    Executed by his own troops.

    Morris enlisted when he was 16 years old.He was shipped to the battlefields of Flanders.Where ,according to his superiors he behaved well. A year later building parapets around heavy guns that were continuously firing his nerve broke ,he ran for two days before being arrested.

    He was then sentenced to be shot at dawn.because of desertion from active service near the front line.

    Herbert Morris was executed , in a coal shed in the Belgian village of Poperinge, on 20 September 1917 he had just turned 17.

    Australia and New Zealand did not have a death penalty for desertion. the British government and British Military leaders applied a lot of pressure to the respective governments to try and get them to change their policy but to no avail

    Source(s): heritage of the great war they die young the kids of the great war.
  • 1 decade ago

    The manner in which WWI was conducted was inconceivably brutal, by today's standards.

    Imagine standing in a wet, smelly, rat- and flea-infested ditch waiting in the cold for the poison gas or the infiltrator's knife or the sapper's bomb or the artillery shell from the blue or the mass attack to swarm your position ... to end your life.

    Now imagine that this hell comes to seem "normal", safe, even a haven from the inconceivably more horrid world outside, where you have no cover from the automatic weapon fire and mines and aircraft and barbed wire and punji stakes and direct fire cannon and fuel-fed fires and toxic smoke.

    Then, just as you get used to the horror of your cosy ditch, the word comes to climb OUT of that ditch, and enter "no man's land", where even the miserable protection of your little ditch is gone and you are exposed to the bullets and the gas and the explosions and the barbed wire of the enemy.

    It is miraculous that ANYONE complied with that foolish "word" to attack. One of the major reasons that the soldiers complied was the knowledge, calculatingly and constantly instilled in them, that while attacking across no-man's-land was possible (even probable) death, to attempt to refuse was CERTAIN death at the hands of your own officers.

    Saying that you were frightened was probably okay, unless you went on and on about it. Shrieking and ranting your fear would be regarded as "pusillanimous conduct in the face of the enemy" and would result in your summary execution, lest your sane and understandable fear of hurling your body at painful death and maiming spread among your fellow doughboys, tommies and kamerades.

    After all, you can't have a war if your soldiers are worried about their own survival, now, can you?

  • 1 decade ago

    Those serving in the British forces who were shot for cowardice have now all been pardoned (doesn't help them much, I know, but is some comfort to their families)

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  • Mimi
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Those serving in the French forces who were shot for cowardice have not been pardoned (doesn't trouble them much, I know, but it would be some comfort to their families)

  • 1 decade ago

    I doubt that they were shot for just saying it. More likely they were shot for not following orders to advance, or even more likely desertion. .

  • 1 decade ago

    they were actually shot for desertion. the act of running away from military service.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    because 6 ft 5inch corporal homo was in their trench on the sniff.

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