A 17-year-old Jewish-British boy who was shot for desertion during the First World War was set to receive a posthumous pardon.
Despite earning a good reputation during seven months of fighting in the trenches of France, having enlisted aged just 15, Adrian Bevistein was court-martialled and shot after going absent without leave and then refusing to return to the trenches.
A month earlier, the teenager, who assumed a false name and age in order to enlist, spent at least two weeks in hospital after suffering a back injury and shock in an explosion.
But in a move welcomed by The Shot at Dawn Pardons campaign, the government said it would seek parliamentary approval to pardon more than 300 soldiers executed for military offences including cowardice and desertion. It is believed that many of the executed had been suffering from trauma.
Defense Secretary Des Browne said: “After 90 years, the evidence just doesn’t exist to assess all the cases individually. I do not want to second guess the decisions made by commanders in the field, who were doing their best to apply the rules and standards of the time.
"But the circumstances were terrible, and I believe it is better to acknowledge that injustices were clearly done in some cases, even if we cannot say which – and to acknowledge that all these men were victims of war."
Reprinted with permission of Totally Jewish