8.16.2006

lmf

I recently blogged about L.M.F., a novel by friend of wtmc Matt Bin.

L.M.F. stands for "Lacking Moral Fibre" - a former British military designation for what is now recognized as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Today I see this story:
The British government is expected to announce Wednesday that it will seek a group pardon for over 300 First World War soldiers executed for offences such as cowardice and desertion, a list that includes 23 Canadian soldiers.

Defence secretary Des Browne is expected to announce the posthumous pardon of 306 soldiers on moral grounds, the Guardian reported.

The soldiers were shot for cowardice or desertion, many after court martial hearings that lasted just minutes.

Descendants of the soldiers and advocates for the pardon have long argued that many were clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The families of the executed soldiers received no military pensions, in addition to the stigma they suffered.
Can you imagine? After people had a normal and completely human reaction to the abnormal stress of war, they were killed. This, from the highly civilized British Empire. It reminds me of cultures where women are executed for having been raped. It boggles the mind.

I hope the posthumous pardon can bring the families of these soldiers some measure of peace.

7 comments:

M@ said...

This very issue of soldiers being executed for desertion in WWI is one that I bring up often when talking about my book. I'm very glad to see that (finally!) they're receiving the pardon they deserve. Thank you very much for posting this, as I hadn't seen it before.

Incidentally, I read on the BBC in May that over 10,000 troops have deserted from the British Army since the Iraq invasion began. Everything old is new again.

L-girl said...

Thank you very much for posting this, as I hadn't seen it before.

I was just going to send you the link, then I figured, I'll send to everyone at the same time. :)

Incidentally, I read on the BBC in May that over 10,000 troops have deserted from the British Army since the Iraq invasion began.

That's an encouraging sign. That's 10,000 people who won't be killing anyone or getting blown up themselves.

andrea said...

On a bit of a tangent, the 'highly civilized British Empire' also thought it was right and good to yank 11 year old children out of their homes to be unleashed on a brutal and rigid public school system with only occasional visits home from then on, so the LMF designation is hardly surprising. As the mother of sensitive 11 and 13 year old boys I get upset just thinking about how my mother and her brother were sent to school in Canada from their (British ex-pat) home in Mexico and only allowed to come home once a year because that's simply 'what one did.' There's a very close link there if you think about who the public schools were raising and how the environment affected them.

David Cho said...

So having stress disorder was seen as lacking morals, hence the term lacking moral fibre? It is the exact opposite. People with morals react to the stress of war, not without, which is why the objective of military training is to turn normal men to thoughtless killing machines.

(BTW, I thought the title of your posting was MILF at first. Need to get some more coffee).

L-girl said...

Andrea and David, great comments. So true.

That 'what one did' bullshit hurt so many people in so many ways. Unwed mothers who were forced to give up their babies, kids beaten in schools, all kinds of conformist nightmares.

Many older British folks love to tell you how everyone was whipped in school and they thought nothing of it. You know, the "nowadays they make such a fuss over everything, in my day..." types. Sure, perfectly acceptable to beat and humiliate young people for minor infractions (of a code it's almost impossible not to break). Why not. Make men out of 'em.

That's part of the same system that brought us LMF. As someone here said recently: BAH.

M@ said...

Well, according to the British Army types, it's par for the course -- apparently 10,000 men go missing every three years or so. Right.

But David's comment is spot on -- of course it's only possible to react to combat strain if one actually has a moral compass to begin with. But what you must understand is that the very idea of the LMF designation was a systematic way of undermining that very moral compass. If you put a young man in a battle between his mates and his fears, his mates (almost always) win out. It's disgustingly effective.

I think about when I was 18, and how important was the approval of my army chums. God forbid I would have to kill anyone over their approval. God forbid I should ever be in such a place.

And yet, I was in the reserves. I volunteered. If you think it's an easy equation, well, best think again.

LMF is for sale at my site, incidentally. Now with paypal goodness. :)

L-girl said...

Thanks, Matt - good thoughts.

OK everyone, buy his book.