Firing squads were normally assembled from members of the soldier's own unit, for whom this could be a devastating task, the purpose of which was sometimes not revealed prior to the event. It was one thing to be ordered to kill the enemy; quite another to be ordered to shoot a comrade.
The first British soldier of World War One to be executed on the Western Front stood before a firing squad on 8 September 1914. Private Thomas Highgate of the Royal West Kent Regiment was just nineteen years old.
The last two British soldiers to be executed in this 'theatre of war' perished separately on 7 November 1918; four days before the Armistice. Private Louis Harris was twenty-three years of age, a conscript who had previously been rejected as a volunteer on medical grounds and was serving with the West Yorkshire Regiment; Private Ernest Jackson was thirty-two years old and serving with 24 Battalion Royal Fusiliers.
South of England - Roll of Honour
Private John Bennett - 28 August 1916 - Aged 19
Royal Sussex Regiment
Private William Burrell - 22 May 1916 - Aged 21
Private Reginald Tite - 25 November 1916 - Aged 27
Private John Barnes - 4 July 1917 - Aged 24
Royal Berkshire Regiment
Private George Ward - 26 September 1914 - Aged 20
Private Charles Depper - 13 September 1916 - Aged 30
Private John Swain - 11 August 1918 - Aged 22
Royal West Surrey Regiment
Private Harry Knight - 6 October 1918 - Aged ?
Private Frederick Wright - 28 January 1917 - Aged 22
Private Thomas Hawkins - 22 November 1917 - Aged 20
Private Edward Tanner - 27 October 1914 - Aged 33
Lance-Corporal Joseph Fox - 20 April 1915 - Aged 20
Sergeant John Robins* - 2 January 1916 - Aged 30
*served in Gallipoli
Siegfried Sassoon 1917 (c) George Sassoon
(C) EFE 2000
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