Archive for the Shot Category

2 January 1663 – Illiam Dhone

Posted in Shot with tags , , , on January 2 by Last Writes

Illiam DhoneIlliam Dhone was shot for embezzlement, despite having already done time for his crime.

Dhone (whose English name was William Christian) was a Isle of Man, aka Manx nationalist and politician. He led a successful revolt against the then Lord of Mann who’d been imprisoned, and was eventually made Governor of the Isle of Man in the mid-17th century.

But power went to Dhone’s head. He misappropriated funds and when his crime caught up with him, he hot-footed it over to England. There Dhone was slammed in jail for a year.

Crime and retribution

When released, he returned to the Isle of Man, where the new Lord, Charles Stanley, the 8th Earl of Derby was keen to see Dhone properly punished for all his deeds, not least for leading the revolt against his father.

In the ensuing trial, Isle of Man judges, known as Deemsters, found against him after he refused to hand over all his assets to the State. For that, Dhone was shot on 2 January 1663, aged 54. But he was already considered to have done time for his crime, so, of course, retribution was swift for the Deemsters who’d ordered his execution. The newly instated King of England, Charles II made sure they were punished and Dhone’s family got compensation.

Also on this day

1924 – Matthew Nunn

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1 January 1938 – Alexander Gelver

Posted in Shot with tags , , , on January 1 by Old Sparky

In 1938, American-born communist sympathiser Alexander Gelver saw the New Year in with a bullet through his brain.

He was accused of spreading the belief that there was a better life to be had outside communist Russia around the factory where he had worked.

“…just inches from freedom, he was arrested”

In actual fact, Gelver had been instrumental is helping the Russians recreate Stalin’s left-wing vision of a ‘Worker’s Paradise’ in the 1920s and 30s, along with 14 others.

But Stalin had become deeply distrustful of any foreign influences and began to turn against his American volunteers. And, in turn, Gelver became increasingly fearful for his life after the others started disappearing mysteriously.

On the brink of freedom

Gelver made hasty plans to return to the United States. But instead, just inches from freedom, he was arrested outside the US Embassy. Gelver from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was just 24 when he was put to death, probably with a single bullet to the back of his head.

Also on this day

1907 – John Davis

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4 November 1941 – Arndt Juho Pekurinen

Posted in Death penalty, Shot with tags , , , , on November 4 by Old Sparky

Arndt Pekurinen

Arndt Pekurinen

HG Wells and Einstein understood, but it needn’t take a genius to see Arndt Juho Pekurinen’s point. So why on earth was he done for treason after he refused to bear arms for his country?

As a Finnish conscientious objector Pekurinen was a born pacifist and did all in his power to avoid conscription. So when he was called up for active service in the years running up to World War II he refused to bear arms or even wear the uniform.

His constant subversion led others to brand him a communist and he was bunged in jail between 1929 and 31. Pekurinen actions were seen as high treason especially in the climate of increasing hostilities in Europe.

But he had sympathisers – an international petition featuring prolific names, such as Albert Einstein and HG Wells, was sent to the Finnish defence minister Juho Niukkanen and it worked to a point. On 14 April 1931, Finland ratified an alternative to military service. But it was flawed, because it only covered peacetime.

So when World War II erupted in a blaze of fury in 1939, Pekurinen was once again slung in jail. But they needed men to fight their battles, so he was sent to the frontline two years later, where he once again refused to wear a uniform or bear arms.

To which, the army executed him without trial. Even his execution was veiled in subversion. The first two soldiers refused to shoot him so it was only when orders came through from the highest authorities in the Finnish Army that Corporal Asiainen pulled the trigger on 36-year-old Pekurinen in Suomussalmi, Finland.

After the war, his death was swept under the carpet and only came back into focus after a book was published in 1998 – Courage: The life and execution of Arndt Pekurinen by Erno Paasilinna.

Also on this day

4 November 2005 – Brian Steckel
4 November 2005 – Hastings Arthur Wise

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9 October 1967 – Che Guevara

Posted in Death penalty, Shot with tags , , , , , , on October 9 by Old Sparky

Che Guevara

Che Guevara

‘Shoot coward. You’re only going to kill a man.’

But what a man.

It’s not often we get to write about personal heroes, but today’s post is one such occasion, for these are purported to be some of the final words of Che Guevara, El Che or just Che to his mates.

Of course the words may be little more than an urban myth, but the man who uttered them was so much more. He has become a legend.

Che Lives!

Che Guevara has changed the course of history for several countries, freeing them from the shackles of Fascism and dictatorship with his brand of egalitarian democracy, albeit via bloody methods.

But hey, you’re here to read about his death, so we’ll stop waxing lyrical about his left-wing crusades. You can get those elsewhere.

Che was a wanted man. He’d helped lead Cuba to freedom from the iron grip of Fulgencio Batista. It was now safely in the left-hand palm of his comrade-in-arms Fidel Castro.

The Argentine was then to head deep into the bowels of Bolivia (via The Congo), where he started stirring up just as much trouble.

The fear

Stunningly, it wasn’t just the Bolivians who feared his unique style of revolution. He had opposers further north of the border too – the Americans quaked in their Louboutins1 at the very thought that infectious Communism was edging ever closer to their Capitalist shores.

After all, it would never do to have such a successful advocate so close in proximity to them, extolling the virtues of a leftie paradise. Moreover, it wouldn’t do to have one so seductive and one who was unafraid of employing such bloody methods.

So the question is, who ultimately got there first? The Bolivians? Or the Americans? The answer is both, thanks inadvertently to one of Che’s Russian mates.

Up to that point, he’d been the scourge of the beleaguered Bolivians’ efforts to keep the country revolution-free. Instead, he had become ensconced in establishing the National Liberation Army of Bolivia and he was already well-known for his stop-at-nothing guerrilla tactics.


As a result both camps deemed he must die, helped not least by Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider ‘better known by her nom de guerre “Tania”, who had been installed as his primary agent in La Paz, was reportedly also ‘working for the KGB and is widely inferred to have unwittingly served Soviet interests by leading Bolivian authorities to Guevara’s trail’. At least that’s the story according to Wikipedia.

The CIA teamed up with the Bolivian Army and hunted him down like a dog. Of course, that’s not how the Bolivians saw it. Indeed the BBC tracked down one of the Cuban-born CIA agents who made the historic coup.

‘Most people don’t know the real Che Guevara – the Che Guevara who wrote that he was thirsty for blood, the Che who assassinated thousands of people without any regard for legal process’ said Felix Rodriguez who actually took a photo of the man on capture.

‘Legal process’ eh? Where was the legal process when Rodriguez took the order from on high to execute without trial?

Che dies

The soldier tasked with carrying out the job was instructed to make it look like he’d been killed in battle.

That didn’t stop the execution party lopping off his hands and pickling them in formaldehyde as a way of preserving them. Why? This was carried out in case Castro asserted that Che was still alive and kicking arse. You can’t argue with fingerprints after all.

Che was then laid out on a slab, Christ-like and more photos taken as proof that the commandante was dead.

And so the legend was born. With that solitary action, 39-year-old Che morphed from prolific guerrilla and freedom fighter to immortal icon.

1 Anachronistic we know, but a great example of capitalism at its best.

Also on this day…and it’s another big name!

9 October 2002 – Aileen Wuornos
The US-born highway hooker and serial man-killer was put to death for a nine-month killing spree spanning north and central Florida.

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1 October 1943 – Janka Boissevain, Gideon Boissevain and Louis Boissevain

Posted in Death penalty, Shot with tags , , , , , , on October 1 by Old Sparky

Janka Boissevain

Janka Boissevain

At a time when Europe was gripped by the irresistible rise of the Nazi machine, three young lads forfeited their lives on this day in 1943.

Janka Boissevain, Gideon Boissevain and cousin Louis Boissevain were three family members who were literally wiped out in one fell swoop for daring to resist Nazi control during World War II.

Far from right

Bizarrely some sources state that their parents had initially been seduced by the right-wing messages and had gone as far as to join the Dutch Fascist Party, which had been led by the likes of Anton Mussert, and that the couple had promptly quit the party after the full terrors of what that party’s politics entailed began to unfold…

But in actual fact, Janka and Gideon’s mum was the fabled Adrienne Minette Boissevain-van Lennep (aka Mies), who was a key insurgent within the resistance movement. She had always held strong opinions and had been an active member of the feminist movement earlier in life, but it was her whole family’s anti-Nazi work during the war that was to land them in hot water.

Dutch courage

After all, what was the family meant to do; sit back and watch while friends were swiped and annihilated just for being Jewish?

Naturally the family couldn’t stand idly by, and in a covert operation, the Boissevain brothers joined a group of Dutch resistance fighters, who’d do anything to subvert the Fascists’ activities during the Second World War.

Mies and her husband actually went on to harbour Jews in a bid to help them break for freedom from their oppressors.


But the Nazis were onto them and the brothers, cousin Louis and matriarch Mies herself were sharply apprehended for their resistance work in August 1942 in a Nazi haul that comprised 70 resistance members. Some were executed, others sent to concentration camps.

Indeed, her husband Jan was shipped off to various concentration camps and he ended his days in Buchenwald where he died. Mies, on the other hand, was carted off to other concentration camps where she was posted to work in hospitals. Luckily she lived through the dark years to see freedom.

However, her sons and her nephew met a more immediate and untimely end. Just two months after they’d been apprehended, the Nazis wiped the boys out: Janka aged 23, Gideon aged 22 and Louis aged 21, alongside 17 other members of the resistance were shot en masse.

Also on this day

1 October 1957 – Jacques Fesch
1 October 1912 – Sargent Philp

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17 September 1915 – Augusto Roggen

Posted in Death penalty, Shot with tags , , , on September 17 by Old Sparky
Augusto Roggen

Augusto Roggen

Augusto Alfredo Roggen was executed in the Tower of London during the 1914–18 First World War.

Roggen (or maybe Roggin), originally from Montevideo in Uruguay, was accused of spying for the Germans. And the Brits were onto him.

Virtually as soon as he’d arrived in England he was banged up – after docking in May 1915, he’d found himself flung into the Tower by June.

Roggen trading

Having sent mail to an address in Rotterdam that was already known to the secret police, Roggen had inadvertently stirred their suspicions. But more evidence was needed.

So, he was allowed to enter Britain where he proceeded to Scotland to carry out a series of odd activities, all under the covert watch of the secret police. None of these activities amounted to anything, yet he was soon captured with incriminating weapons, invisible ink and the like.

The suspect was hauled in and faced trial for espionage, for which he was found guilty.

As expected, Uruguay naturally jumped to his defence asking for him to be reprieved, but to no avail.

Staunchly refusing to wear a blindfold, Roggen faced a firing squad within the walls of the Tower on this day in 1915 as the war raged, aged around 34.

According to records from the War Office, Roggen was one of 11 foreign nationals shot at the Tower during World War I on charges under the 1914 Defence of the Realm Act.

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8 September 1914 – Thomas Highgate

Posted in Death penalty, Shot with tags , , , , on September 8 by Old Sparky

Thomas Highgate

Thomas Highgate

Thomas Highgate was just a fearful teenager when he served in the First World War, and poignantly became the first soldier to be executed for being a deserter.

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.

War wounds

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.

Also on this day

8 September 1999 – Mark Gardner
8 September 1999 – Alan Willett

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