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Justices militaires et guerres mondiales

Jean-Marc Berlière
Jonas Campion
Luigi Lacchè
et al.

Licence not to Kill

British Opposition to Military Justice during the First World War

Anja Johansen

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Extrait du texte

In August 2006, Private Henry Farr was granted posthumous pardon ninety years after he had been convicted for cowardice in a military court and executed in October 1916. This was the final victory in a twelve-years battle between Private Farr’s descendents and the British Ministry of Defence. Within a few months of the court ruling in favour of overturning Henry Farr’s original conviction, the Ministry of Defence issued a collective pardon to 306 men who had been executed for cowardice, desertion and other frontline offences, irrespective of circumstances (Armed Forces Act 2006).

The errors, assumptions and misunderstandings that flourished in the British media reporting on the case are revealing of how executions during the First World War have gone down in British popular memory. The longstanding refusal of the Ministry of Defence to reopen the Henry Farr case also generated significant levels of public consternation in the press, and the posthumous group pardon was thus widely hai...


Senior lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Dundee (UK). She has published extensively on military involvement in policing and maintenance of public order in the French Third Republic and the German Empire, from the 1880s to the First World War. She has recently published an article on the civil liberties activism of the British civil liberties organisation The Personal Rights Association and the French Ligue des droits de l’homme. Her research focuses on law-enforcement and comparative analysis of police-public relations in nineteenth-century Germany, France and Britain. She is currently finishing a monograph on citizens’ complaints against the police in London, Paris and Berlin, 1880-1914

© Presses universitaires de Louvain, 2013

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