Coup de grâce

Discussion in 'General' started by dbf, Sep 2, 2008.

  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Over the years, I have heard two particularly harrowing accounts - in one instance a coup de grâce was requested by a dying soldier and carried out, and in another where it was discussed only, by men witnessing a tragic scene in the cross-fire.

    Was this practice / discussion ‘common’ or even (tacitly) sanctioned? Is it referred to anywhere in official histories or publications? And where there any official orders in respect of this behaviour?

    Thank you,
    Diane
     
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Diane -
    That sort of subject while not officially sanctioned - to my knowledge - did come up now and then - particularly after a hard day when tanks were lost and scenes of Tank Crews screaming and burning , but it was never a long discussion usually "if it happens to us - then you can shoot me" type of conversation, not too important as it was NEVER going to happen !

    Optimism was always front and centre - until it happened of course!
    Cheers
     
  3. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Diane -
    I should add that in one of Monty's talks to the lads he mentioned that - "if you are killed - then you will have a decent burial ( no question the CWGC do a fantastic job) - and if wounded then you will be given prompt attention with Doctors and Nurses close by"

    8th Army kept to that with Casualty Clearing Centres within usually 20 miles of the front lines -General Hospitals not too far behind them - in my own experience I was taken overnight to Ancona from Coriano Ridge - treated and assessed - on a Hospital ship for Bari within a few days - three weeks at Bari - re-assessed - on board another Hospital Ship for Blighty - then the rotten b**** discovered a surgeon in Catania where I was patched up and thrown back up again...never did forgive them ...
    Cheers
     
  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thanks Tom,
    For your insightful replies. I am not surprised that it would have come up between mates along the lines you described. And as for the optimism, how else would you have functioned otherwise … I couldn’t imagine.

    Prompt action nowadays may result in a different outcome I know, however, neither man would have survived long enough to benefit from any medical intervention.

    I am glad you got medical attention that you needed, even if they were too good!! ;)

    As in the debate we have in our society about euthanasia, it is the person who dealt the blow, or who didn’t, who has to face the consequences either way …

    Still, left wondering about any official line on this …

    Regards,
    Diane
     
  5. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Never heard of one instance of that happening. The field dressing stations were usually right up at the front. Very often within a short distance of the enemy. In every case, an attempt was made to get the wounded tended. Most often very quickly. Both British and Enemy.
    That there were so heart rending scenes goes without saying. But I never came across anyone wishing to be shot. far from it, the power of self preservation is a tremendous power. As those that have seen action will know only too well.
    Sapper
     
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Brian,
    Glad you didn't experience any such thing.

    Diane
     
  7. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    my father didnt talk much about a lot of his time during WW2,

    but I was aware of a medic during the Falklands shooting a prisoner, who when clearing equipment set off a boobey trap. He was engulfed in flames, surrounded by volitiles and the medic took the decision to put the lad out of his misery, rather than watch him burn / hear him

    Tactically / legally / officially - this would not be sanctioned.

    The film 'Schindlers List' depicts a scene (based on real accounts) where a jewish doctor assists his patients to have a quick and peaceful death before the Nazis raid the hospital, but that is a non combat situation
     
  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thanks Capt Bill,

    I sense that there possibly are no official directives on this matter as it simply "wouldn't happen" ...

    Diane
     
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    dbf -
    shouldn't think it will happen with Tank crews to-day - talking to a friend of mine who is a Lt.Col in RAMC - just back from Iraq 1 - I asked him "how do you treat Tank casualties to-day" - his answer stopped me cold - "doesn't happen usually as when a Tank is hit now - the crew is vaporised " --- oops !
     
  10. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD


    :huh:Good grief!
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive


    I've heard that story.

    When I was in Iraq the shock of the war hit me a few guys when we heard about what happened to Luke Allsop and Simon Cullingworth down the road from us.
    BBC NEWS | UK | Iraq soldiers unlawfully killed

    We decided at that point we wouldn't surrender to anyone and made a pact to sort each other out if it came to it.

    I never knew Luke (He was in the same Brigade but different Regt.) But still to this day I often think of him......Never have got my head around that.
     
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Slightly off topic ....Sorry Diane :)

    This was a Blue on Blue in Iraq March 2003. Cobra Gunship Hellfire and the crew walked away with minor injuries except for one loosing an eye.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    There was a Challenger V Challenger incident a week or so later just before Basrah fell and there was only one fatallity in that if Memory serves me well.

    However if its a T55 your talking about......
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    They don't stay together quite aswell.
     
    Capt Bill likes this.
  13. mossman

    mossman Junior Member

    Diane
    The only circumstance similar to your query is the action related to me by my father, who when asked for his experiences of the war, recounted the following.
    When serving aboard HMS Bleasdale, they were at Dunkirk picking up troops when a Canadian destroyer doing the same and loaded with injured troops what hit by German bomber crashing onto it, the entire destroyer was enveloped in flame and the Captain of the Bleasdale was ordered to torpedo and sink the vessel, which it did. Apparently witnessed by my father and of whom I never ever asked for his reminiscences again
     
  14. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Mossman, welcome to the forum and thanks for commenting.

    The two incidents to which I referred came via my own father. Yours definitely is very relevant to my line of questioning.

    Thank you for posting this.

    Regards
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
  15. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    The Light Dragoons had this when we were out in Bosnia 1996 - an armoured vehicle (?scorpian) went over an anti-tank mine on a previously cleared road.

    No rescue attempt could be made until ATO gave the all clear - this wasnt given for 24hrs + due to the ammount of ammunition on board the vehicle, and the heat produced within the vehicle caused by the explosion.

    My humble opinion is that modern armour (with all the new radio equip etc) is nothing more than a mobile oven on tracks. Modern Tank crew stand a very very small chance of surviving a hit.
     
  16. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Drew,
    Thanks for input about your own experiences and for your photos.

    I think what Tom was getting at too, is that there are now more cases of injured men surviving trauma which would have previously been considered fatal. As witnessed recently by the disgraceful haggling over compensation ...

    d
     
    Capt Bill likes this.
  17. Doc

    Doc Senior Member

    Afraid I am away from my references at present, but I have read several reports of it in Burma during WW2-- probably not officially sanctioned, but it happens. Ambroise Paré, the famous French Royal Surgeon, wrote about it back in the 1500s. Doc
     
  18. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Capt Bill
    ...and that's exactly why we called the Sherman a "Ronson" - as it lit first time...the Churchill was made of sterner stuff - usually three hits before it fired up - gave you time to clear !
    Cheers
     
    Capt Bill likes this.
  19. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    Its amazing how any time served in the forces, you soon develope a 'black sense of humour'
     
  20. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thanks Doc, good to get a wider perspective.


    I wonder then, as in the instance brought up by Capt Bill, how things would have been viewed if the act was done, not by someone from your own side but by an enemy soldier. Could this have been viewed essentially as a war crime, rather than a mercy killing?
     

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