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"The Thin Yellow Line"
The Scorer


Joined: 27 Nov 2006
Posts: 324
Location: Newport
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I'm currently reading this book, which was written by William Moore and published in 1974.

It is an examination of the policies surrounding the execution of soldiers for desertion, murder etc. over the ages. Whilst a lot of it is about the First World War and the "Shot at Dawn" policy, there's coverage of what happened from 1632 (the Cromwellian / English Civil War era) and the happenings between the wars and the policy during the Second World War. It also looks at what happened in America, France, Germany, Russia, New Zealand, Canada and Australia.

Anyway, to keep this relevant to this forum, there's the following couple of lines in the Introduction: "As a consquence, courts martial were rarely called upon to deal with questions of courage, although no-one was in any doubt as to what was required of them. When an officer was tried for leaving a small detatchment of men and riding to fetch help during the Zulu War of 1879, Sir Garnet Wolseley was so shocked by the aquittal that he issued a special order pointing out that "the more helpless position in which an officer finds his men, the more it is his bounden duty to stay and share their fortune, whether good or ill."


Does anyone know what incident this refers to, please? Thank you.

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Rob D


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 93
Location: Melbourne Australia
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Intombe /Intombi / Intombi River Drift, 12 March 1879.
Wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Intombe
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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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Lt Henry Harward was tried by court-martial on 20 March 1879 on the following charges:

'CHARGES submitted against Henry H. Harward, 80th Regiment.

'Charge 1st.– Having, at the Intombe River, South Africa, on or about the 12th day of March 1879, misbehaved before the enemy in shamefully abandoning a detachment of the 80th Regiment under his command when attacked by Zulus, and in riding off at speed from his men.
'Charge 2nd.– Disgraceful conduct in behaving in a scandalous manner unbecoming the character of an Officer, in falsely reporting to his Commanding Officer, on or about the 12th March 1879, at Luneberg "that he had endeavoured to rally his men, but they were too much scattered, and finding reformation impossible, he mounted his horse," whereas he left the men under his command still fighting, and without endeavouring to rally them, Serjeant Booth and about 9 men remaining behind and retiring in face of the enemy in good order.' The National Archives, WO 33/34, Inclosure 1 in No. 18.

KIS
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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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I'm sorry, but I really should have indicated how matters ended:

Harward was acquitted and released from arrest. There the matter rested for a time. The conclusion to this sorry tale occurred in the following year, when General Sir Garnet Wolseley was required to review the findings of the Court Martial.

'Received the proceedings of the Harward Ct. Martial. I never read such a disgraceful affair and I cannot imagine how a number of officers could be collected together who would come to the extraordinary conclusion that this coward’s conduct was not "shameful". I am sending the proceedings to the Regt. to be promulgated, having written on them "not confirmed & not approved: Lt. H. to be released from arrest & returned to his duty."

Adrian Preston, The South African Journal of Sir Garnet Wolseley 1879 – 1880, p. 247: Diary entry dated 7 March 1880.

KIS
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The Scorer


Joined: 27 Nov 2006
Posts: 324
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Thank you for your advice.

So, Lieutenant Harwood was court martialled, found not guilty and released from arrest. When Sir Garnet Wolseley reviewed the case, he couldn't change the verdict, but did sufficiently blacken Harwood's character to ensure that he didn't have a future in the army. Do I have this right?

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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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That's as I've always understood it, Scorer. And wasn't Booth's VC recommendation held up because its report would have exposed Harwood's failure? Can't think for a moment what the ref is for this. Keith?

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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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Peter

I had not known that there was any delay in Booth's award of the Victoria Cross. There is certainly no mention of such in my own documentation relating to the award. (The National Archives, WO 32/7388.)

KIS
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The Scorer


Joined: 27 Nov 2006
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Location: Newport
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Thank you for your help with this - very interesting!

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"The Thin Yellow Line"
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