Shot at Dawn Restoration

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Help restore one of our most poignant and moving memorials by donating today.

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The Shot at Dawn Memorial commemorates 309 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were shot for desertion, cowardice, striking a senior officer, disobeying a lawful order, casting away arms, mutiny and sleeping at post during the First World War. Most of them were sentenced after a short trial at which no real opportunity for defence was allowed.

Today, it is recognised that some were underage when they volunteered and that many of them were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which was not recognised as a medical condition until 1980. In 2006 they were officially pardoned by the British Government.

Deliberately located at the most easterly part of the Arboretum where the sun rises first, Shot at Dawn, first dedicated in 2001, is now showing its age, exacerbated by repeated winter flooding from the adjacent River Tame. A suggested donation of £50 represents the replacement of one of the 309 water damaged posts and name tag representing each soldier as part of the overall £45,000 campaign target to fully restore the memorial and create a future maintenance fund to ensure that the memorial will be preserved for future generations.

The 309 replacement posts will be made from durable, recycled material and will no longer need to be replaced every 4-7 years. Works will also focus on improving drainage, access and new interpretation boards to improve the visitor experience.

An individual post at the Shot at Dawn Memorial. Plaque depecited reads Private John Maurice Canadian Expeditionary Force 7 December 1916 Aged 24

Donate £50 Today

Help restore one of our most poignant and moving memorials. By donating £50 you can fund the replacement of one of the 309 posts, representing each soldier shot, later pardoned, and now remembered at the Arboretum. We appreciate every donation large and small.
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Shot at Dawn Re-opening

On Friday 21 June we will be joined by sculptor Andy Decomyn, and Janet Booth, granddaughter of Harry Farr who was executed for cowardice in 1916, for the re-opening of the Shot at Dawn Memorial.

Members of the public are invited to observe the re-opening which will begin at 12noon, for approximately 20 minutes, at the memorial. Entry to the Arboretum is free (parking charges apply), and can be booked in advance below.

Find out more

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the Shot at Dawn Memorial require substantial renovation?
The memorial was installed more than 20 years ago and has received periodic maintenance as required. However, due to its location close to the River Tame, repeated flooding events have exacerbated the deterioration of the grounds and posts, and substantial works are now necessary to preserve the memorial for future generations. 
The original memorial had 306 posts, why are there now 309 posts?
When the Shot at Dawn memorial was installed in 2001, there were 306 posts; one for each of the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were shot for the military offences of ‘cowardice’, ‘desertion’, ‘disobeying a lawful order’, ‘casting away arms’, or ‘sleeping at post’ during the First World War.  

The memorial was part of a long-running campaign to secure a pardon for those executed soldiers. Following growing public pressure, the Armed Forces Act 2006 provided for a pardon which included those convicted of ‘mutiny’. In 2016, a further three posts were installed bearing the names of those convicted of ‘mutiny’ who had been pardoned, bringing the total number of posts to 309.  

The 306 original posts are arranged in chronological order with the three additional posts placed to one side of the memorial. To preserve this aspect of the story of Shot at Dawn, these posts will retain the same non-chronological position in the renovated memorial.  
What will the £45,000 be used for?

The renovation will require significant quantities of building materials and the hire of construction equipment, which together are estimated to cost approximately £20,000 – each of the replacement posts will cost approximately £50 to purchase and install, representing more than £15,000 of this budget.  

A further £25,000 will be allocated to future maintenance costs to ensure that our team can ensure that the memorial remains a fitting tribute to those it remembers.  


Why are you fundraising for this memorial?
Shot at Dawn was installed at the Arboretum in 2001 with the aid of public subscriptions. This predated our policy of requiring memorial holders to provide funds to support the ongoing maintenance of their memorial, often through the purchase of a maintenance agreement with the Arboretum.  

The National Memorial Arboretum is a registered charity, and the lack of dedicated maintenance funds has meant that the cost of caring for the memorial has fallen entirely on us. If successful, this fundraising campaign will ensure that we are able to use more of our funds to grow and develop the wider Arboretum. 
What will we do if we raise more than £45,000?
Any excess funds will be used to support the ongoing development of the National Memorial Arboretum for future generations. 
Will I be able to identify the specific post I have sponsored?
Supporters will not be issued with a specific post. 
What will happen to the existing posts at the Memorial?
The existing posts that form the memorial will be recycled on site and used as a mulch within the woodland areas surrounding the Shot at Dawn Memorial.