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Shot at Dawn Execution site

Listed under Military History in Belgium.

Photo of Shot at Dawn Execution site
Photo by flickr user DerbyDog1
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Poperinge wasn't on the front line, it was a military camp where men were 'rested' and hospitalised near the front before going back to fight, but this is where many of the 73 Ypres Salient military executions took place during the Great War, because it was here that many men proclaimed their inability to go back into the firing line.  It's hard to imagine not being scared under those kinds of conditions, and while some of the men may have been rightly proclaimed cowards, some of them were probably just so shell shocked they didn't know what they were doing any more.  

This courtyard was where the executions took place.  The post in place was only used the once, for the final execution on the 19th of May 1919.  The night before, after the men were given their final orders by General Haig, they were taken to one of these cells where they were kept overnight with a chaplain.  Two of the cells where they condemned men spent their final hours have been restored to the way they were during the war, complete with lavatory bucket, a few planks to sleep on and a view of the courtyard where the executions took place.  

The 16 men who stayed in these cells were then buried in Poperinge New Military Cemetery.  

 

Written by  Toby Bright.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

It would be appropriate if you point out that the photo does not represent the site to which your narrative refers. The site in the photo is in the UK, as you well know.

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