Military History

I have a weird interest in WWII military executions. After looking online, found a book The Fifth Field. Anyone read it or something similar?
You may also find the history of WW1 military executions an interesting topic. The French were in some cases brutal about it. Heck, they executed Mata Hari. Not 100% on this, but I seem to recall a picture of a cemetery that contained nothing but the graves of French soldiers who had been executed.

They sentenced, I think, well over one thousand to be executed during the 1917 mutinies, but most of those were commuted.

The movie A Very Long Engagement also depicted methods the French had of performing military executions in a non évidentes manner.
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On the evening of March 5, 1770, Private Hugh White of Major Pierce Butler’s Battalion Company, His Majesty’s 29th Regiment of Foot, stood guard at the sentry box located before the Customs House in Boston. A “bright moon-light” sky illuminated the snow covered landscape before him, including the majestic brick Town House, the seat of English colonial government in Massachusetts.

Town House square was relatively quiet at 8 o’clock. Fate would intervene when Bartholomew Broaders and Edward Garrick, two teenage apprentices from Piedmont’s barber shop, escorted Ann Green, daughter to customs official Bartholomew Green, and the family’s maid, Mary Rogers, to their residence at the Customs House. Having bid their companions goodnight, the boys encountered Lieutenant-Captain John Goldfinch of the 14th Regiment of Foot. Recognizing the officer from his master’s shop, Garrick began taunting him with insults for not paying his bill. Knowing he had already paid it, Goldfinch shrugged off the incident and walked away. This incensed Private White who approached the boys to defend the officer’s reputation. When Garrick continued with his verbal assaults, White reprimanded the boy with a strike to the head with his firelock. This sent Garrick running away in tears. In response, a “motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes and molattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs” began filling Town House square. Swelling in number and armed with clubs and staves, they forced Private White against the Customs House door. Fearing for his life, he loaded his firelock and pleaded for the Main Guard to come to his assistance.

Town House square was now in a state of chaos. Snowballs, some oyster shells, multiple insults, and taunts of “Fire, why don’t you fire!” filled the air. Church bells began ringing. Additional residents emptied into the streets with fire bags and buckets believing a fire alarm had been called. Corporal William Wemms of Captain Ponsomby Molesworth’s Battalion Company, dressed in a surtout, forced his way through the angry mob and led a guard of six men from Captain John Corrance’s Grenadier Company to relieve the sentry. These soldiers included William Warren, the tallest, William McCauley, Matthew Kilroy, John Carroll, James Hartigan and Edward (Hugh) Montgomery. Reaching Private White, they formed a semi-circular line that allowed him to fall in next to Corporal Wemms. Unable to escape to the main guard house, they stood their ground with their bayonets leveled until Thomas Preston, Captain of the Guard, managed to reach them.

Seeing an officer in front of his men, Richard Palmes, a local merchant clothed in a cloth colored surtout, approached Preston. Placing his hand on the officer’s shoulder, he inquired if his men were loaded. Preston replied “with powder and ball”. Andrew, “a Negro Servant to Mr. Wendell”. was so close that he could hear their conversation. So was Jane Whitehouse. She later recalled that the “Centinal - then pushed me back. I step'd back to the corner. He bid me go away for I should be killed.” Another woman near Royal Exchange Lane engaged the “second Soldier from the right” in brief conversation.

Not all the inhabitants were so peaceful. Benjamin Burdick, constable of the Town House Watchmen, carried with him a Scottish broadsword that evening. Having had a bayonet pushed towards him, he later recalled “ I should have cut his head off if he had stepd out of his Rank to attack me again”. Instead, he struck the firelock of the “4th soldier from the corner” with all his might. As the crowd grew more and more agitated, a man in “blue or black plush trimd with gold” was seen walking back and forth behind the soldiers encouraging them to fire.

In a hail of flying ice and sticks, a shot rang out near Royal Exchange Lane. Someone screamed “Fire!” and Crispus Attucks, a mulatto sailor from Framingham, fell. Having witnessed the perpetrator fire, Richard Palmes struck Private Hugh Montgomery with his club. Knocking the firelock from his hands, he turned and hit Captain Preston across the arm as his right foot slipped in the snow. More men continued to fire as Montgomery recovered his firelock. Matthew Kilroy took aim at Samuel Gray, shooting the ropemaker through the head. When his body was recovered, his round hat laid by his side.

After the smoke cleared that cold winter’s evening, blood spattered the snow. Three men lay dead, a man and boy lay mortally wounded, six men were taken away to recover from their wounds and a day of infamy was recorded in the annals of American history.

Gregory S. Theberge, D.M.D.

For additional reading . Boston Massacre - Wikipedia

Prints are available from: TBM - The Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770

The large original of this will be in my exhibition net year at the Museum of the Revolution. 20 large paintings and 20+ figure studies.

Question re: Midway the movie made in ‘76. Does anyone know if the movie was factual in regards to the Jap scout plane being delayed 30 minutes because of catapult problems, as well as the radio issues in their plane that actually found our carriers and could not radio our position back to Nagumo? Not sure if that was the same plane, but if that was factual, both issues played a huge role in the outcome of the battle and the war. “All for want of a nail”.

The Japanese scout plane mentioned in most histories was from the cruiser Tone, It was a float plane launched from a catapult on the cruiser.

IJN Cruiser Tone - note the float planes and catapult on the stern. (US Naval History and Heritage Command NH 111736)
NH 111736.jpeg
The initial contact report mentioned only "battleships and cruisers" there were no American battleships there so he actually saw cruisers and destroyers. Maddening for the Japanese he didn't include a position report. Eventually he did send one with a position report and the vague message, "Fleet seems accompanied by what appears to be a carrier"

This caused the already indecisive Nagumo to dither. That dithering delayed the launch of a strike just long enough for McClusky's SBDs to find the Japanese carriers with gassed and armed planes on deck with disastrous results. Three Japanes fleet carriers, (Kaga, Akagi and Soryu) were destroyed in minutes.

A great discussion of this can be found in Shattered Sword by Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully.
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I meant to post this yesterday and forgot.
(Copy & pasted)

Dr. Joseph Warren was not yet 34 years old when at about 10pm on April 18, 1775 he summoned fellow Sons of Liberty members Paul Revere and William Dawes to ride and provide warning to Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the “British” were coming for them. (Actually the “British” were referred to as the “Regulars”...”British” would’ve confused all, because many in Massachusetts and the other colonies still considered themselves British 😉 Also it did surprise me to learn that Dr. Joseph Warren was only 33... when I heard the history in the past I thought Dr. Warren was a much older gentleman.)

Anyway... both Paul Revere, aged 41, and William Dawes, who had only recently turned 30, both arrived a bit after midnight in time to warn Sam Adams and John Hancock. Dawes then went on to Concord to relay the warning that the Regulars were coming for their ammunition stores. Revere attempted to get to Concord but was stopped by some “Regulars” who held him at gunpoint. Revere was able to get to Lexington on foot, when his horse was taken by a Regular. Dawes didn’t make it to Concord either, but luckily they met up with Samuel Prescott who did!

Dr. Joseph Warren gathered militia men and they were instrumental in chasing the Regulars back to Boston. A musket ball is said to have whizzed through his wig!
Later when his mom saw him she begged him never to put himself in such danger. His answer...

"Where danger is, dear mother, there must your son be. Now is no time for any of America's children to shrink from any hazard. I will set her free or die."

Sadly, only months later, on Breed’s Hill during the Battle of Bunker Hill, Joseph Warren once again was in the midst of hazard, but this time his life was taken during the fight for freedom. According to British General Thomas Gage , his death was ‘worth the death of 500 men.’ So passionate was Warren’s dedication to the cause of liberty.

Pictured is one of many statues that salute Patriot Dr. Joseph Warren This one is located at Forest Hills Cemetery, Boston Massachusetts where his remains are buried.

Dr. Joseph Warren spoke these words during his 1775 Boston Massacre Oration.

“Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.”
10:00 p.m. April 18, 1775

The column of British regulars that Smith is to lead to Concord is assembling at the foot of Boston Common. They will then cross Charles River by boat and begin an 18 mile march to the town of Concord. They consist of the Grenadier and Light Infantry Companies of the 4th, 5th, 10th, 23rd, 38th, 43rd, 47th, 52nd, 59th Regiments of Foot, Grenadier and Light Infantry companies of the 1st Battalion of Marines, and also the Grenadier company of the 18th Regiment of Foot. In all, this force was about 700 strong.

Grenadiers are elite soldiers chosen for their height and courage. In the early part of the 18th century they used to actually throw grenades. By 1775 the grenades are long-gone but the name remains as a mark of military prowess. They wear distinctive bear-fur caps which adds to their height and frightening appearance.

Light Infantry are soldiers chosen for their physical speed, stamina and intelligence. They are trained to spread out, take advantage of cover, and skirmish with the enemy. Their uniforms are adapted to this service with short coats and leather caps instead of brimmed hats. This helps them move more easily through wooded areas.

Patriot Dr. Joseph Warren dispatches Paul Revere and William Dawes on a mission to Lexington to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock and to also give warning to the militia the “Regulars are coming out!”

10:30 p.m. April 18, 1775

At Revere’s insistence, two lanterns are briefly shown in the steeple of the Old North Church in Boston’s North End. These are a signal to members of the Committee of Safety keeping watch in Charlestown that the Regulars are leaving Boston by water, meaning they will row across Charles River to Cambridge instead of marching out by the land route through Roxbury.

11:00 p.m. April 18, 1775

Colonel Conant in Charlestown greets Paul Revere who was just rowed across the river. He confirms that he has seen the lanterns and has dispatched messengers. Revere mounts a horse and begins his journey to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock.

Midnight, April 19, 1775

Paul Revere arrives at Lexington and gives warning to Samuel Adams and John Hancock who were staying at the home of the Reverend Jonas Clarke. William Dawes, who took the longer land route out of Boston arrived about 30 minutes later. Together they then decided to continue on to Concord and alarm every house on the way.

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