16 October 1916

My name is Harry Farr. Was Harry Farr.  Still is ... maybe? I'm not sure what I shall be called now, but I know I shall be remembered for the wrong reasons, and my darling Gertrude and dear little Gertie will live in shame.

If only I could tell them the truth. Explain.

 

My last letter to mother was so inadequate, but I had no idea how badly this would turn out.

 

It's too late now.

 

The next letter mother receives will also be short, but it will be direct and she will know. I only hope she does not believe it. It will not tell my side of the story. But many will believe it and will whisper behind her back.

 

I do not wish to think about it – the thought is unbearable, especially on such a beautiful morning.

 

I can feel the warmth of the sun passing through me. Below me, I see my former self, hanging limp against the wooden post. The six riflemen are at ease, their bayonets pointing towards the sky, towards me. The junior and medical officers are standing over me. I am too high to hear them. I hope they are saying that I died with courage, that the conviction for cowardice is at odds with the bravery I showed in my final moments. I wonder if they believe the conviction. It makes little difference, I suppose, they carried out their duty. I am dead.

 

They are below me, so I am going up … to Heaven. At least my Saviour has forgiven me. I can only hope those I leave behind will do the same, in time. 

 

Private Harry Farr was pardoned by the British Government in 2006,

together with 308 other British Army and Commonwealth soldiers

who were shot at dawn during the First World War.

copyright Martin Marais 2019
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