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Last Updated: Friday, 7 November, 2003, 08:56 GMT
Daughter's plea for Great War pardon
Private Harry Farr
Private Harry Farr was one of 306 British soldiers shot for cowardice
A woman whose father was shot for cowardice during World War 1 is still fighting to get his name cleared.

Gertie Harris, now 90, has written to the government to continue to press for her father to be pardoned, 87 years after he was executed.

Private Harry Farr joined the British Expeditionary Force in 1914 and was shelled repeatedly and collapsed with the shakes in May 1915.

He was sent back to the front line and survived the Somme, but later refused to go over the top saying "I just can't go on".

He was court martialled and shot at dawn on 16 October 1916 - one of 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers executed for cowardice during World War 1.

His widow was not allowed a war pension. Great grandmother Mrs Harris, from Harrow, north-west London, only found out what happened to her father when she was 40.

It would make me very, very proud to have lifted the stigma that I have carried all my life
Gertie Harris

She was only three when her mother got the letter telling her her husband had been shot for cowardice by the British Army.

"She was so, so ashamed of the letter when it came and the stigma that it carried that she never told any one of the family," Mrs Harris said.

Many relatives of those who were shot have long campaigned for a pardon but five successive British governments have rejected their appeals.

The Ministry of Defence says it would be impossible to offer a blanket pardon, as each case was very different and reviewing each case would be difficult as many of the papers have disappeared.

But Mrs Harris said it would mean she could stand alongside the families of other WW1 soldiers on Remembrance Sunday.

"It would make me very, very proud to have lifted the stigma that I have carried all my life, knowing that my father was not a coward and that he died a brave soldier," she said.

Red light will illuminate the London Eye and the Shell building on London's South Bank from 1800 GMT on Friday, to mark the Poppy Appeal and the start of Remembrance weekend.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC London's Wendy Robbins
"Gertie Harris was only three when her mother received a letter saying her husband had been shot for cowardice."



SEE ALSO:
Battle to clear the 'cowards'
11 Nov 99  |  UK News
No pardon for 'deserters'
24 Jul 98  |  Politics


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