8 September 1914 – Thomas Highgate
The Royal West Kent Regiment soldier was shot at dawn for ‘cowardice’ a mere 35 days into the war, aged 19. Highgate and the other 305 soldiers have since been exonerated in 2006 by the Ministry of Defence.
However it has opened new wounds according to the ‘Daily Telegraph’. Apparently parish councillors had previously voted to keep Pte Highgate’s name off their war memorial, despite the fact that nearly 80% of parishioners had voted that his name should be added.
Indeed the parish priest who’d spearheaded the campaign gave up his tenure and had gone with God to Gloucestershire in defiance of the bureaucrats’ refusal to buckle. Instead the councillors decided to leave a space in case he was ever pardoned.
This pardon came through in the shape of the MoD’s list of exonerated men in August 2006, yet, apparently, despite this declaration, Pte Highgate’s name still hadn’t made it onto the memorial as of 2006.
Some 300-odd soldiers were finally freed from the shackles of unfounded shame as a result of the same posthumous pardon, including some familiar names who we’ve already covered in previous months: namely Joseph Stones, Peter Goggins and John McDonald.