North Boy Soldier Shooting Revealed

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jamie Diffley

A harrowing TV documentary programme on boy soldiers who fought in WW1 will feature a North East teenager shot for leaving his post.

Pte Herbert Burden was the first soldier to be shot by his own army when he was executed in July 1915.

Tonight Britain's Boy Soldiers ( part of Channel Four's Secret History series ( reveals details of the 17-year-old's life and the fight to pardon him and the 305 other soldiers shot for military offences.

At least 250,000 under-age boys fought for Britain during the 1914-1918 conflict.

They lied about their age so they could sign up to fight for their country. Some were as young as 14.

Around 120,000 were killed or wounded - many by their own side.

Newcastle veteran John Hipkin who set up the Shot At Dawn campaign to grant pardons has already seen the programme on a preview tape.

He said: "It was a ridiculous situation and none of these soldiers should have been shot.

"It really angers me that the government has still not granted pardons. But our fight continues and we have great support all across the country."

Pte Burden was just 16 when he joined the Northumberland Fusiliers and fought on the Western Front.

He was executed in July 1915 after a military hearing. The uneducated 17-year-old was not represented in the hearing.

An 8ft statue of the soldier was unveiled in 2001 at the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield, Staffordshire. …