Canadian soldiers executed in WW1 to get pardon

The British government announced Wednesday that it will seek a group pardon for over 300 soldiers executed in the First World War, a list that includes 23 Canadians.

The British government announced Wednesday that it will seek a group pardon forover 300First World War soldiers executed for offences such as cowardice and desertion, a list that includes 23 Canadian soldiers.

Defence Secretary Des Browne announced the posthumous pardon of 306 soldiers on moral grounds.

The soldiers were shot for cowardice or desertion, many after court martial hearings that lasted just minutes.

Browne said the pardon "recognizes that everybody involved in these terrible cases were as much victims of World War One as those who died in the battlefield."

Descendants of the soldiers and advocates for the pardon have long argued that many were clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The families of the executed soldiers received no military pensions, in addition to the stigma they suffered.

Still, the decision will likely draw somecriticism. In 1998, the government decided against a pardon because it didn't have all the documentation to distinguish between cases.

"We can't be in a situation morally where we cannot redress injustices because we don't have paperwork in relation to an individual case," Browne said Wednesday.

"But we can in other cases where we have some paperwork."

The pardons will need approval fromBritain's Parliament.

CBC has obtained documents related to the pardon, including a list of the Canadian soldiers. In 2001, Canada added the 23 names to the Book of Remembrance in Ottawa:

  • Sgt.W. Alexander.
  • Pte. C. Laliberte.
  • L/Bdr. F.S. Arnold.
  • Pte. W.N. Ling.
  • Pte. F. Auger.
  • Pte. H.E.J. Lodge.
  • Pte. H.G. Carter.
  • Pte. T.L. Moles.
  • Pte. G. Comte.
  • Pte. E. Perry.
  • Pte. A.C. Dagesse.
  • Pte. E.J. Reynolds.
  • Pte. L. Delisle.
  • Pte. C. Welsh.
  • Pte. E. Fairburn.
  • Pte. J.H. Wilson.
  • Pte. S. McD. Fowles.
  • Pte. E. Young.
  • Pte. J.M. Higgins.
  • Pte. J.W. Roberts.
  • Pte. H.H. Kerr.
  • Pte. D. Sinizki.
  • Pte. J. Lalancette.