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I just finished watching this French film and have to admit that I was very impressed with the movie. I usually do not enjoy "romantic war" films but this story was exceptionally well written, IMO.

A question for you WWI experts that have seen this:

Was it really a practice of the French Army to send condemned men (I guess they were all condemned, in a way!) into no-man's land like that? Why not just shoot them, back in a rear area following the courts-martial? Or was a formal military execution bad PR for the military after the mutinies?

Thanks, T
 

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It is well documented that they did indeed send these men into no-mans land for petty crimes comitted, these men were sent to repair wire, fix shell hole emplacements, etc., etc. as needed. If they showed improvement in their behavior after doing this for a few days they were re-accepted back into the main forces if they survived. It all depended on the mood of the OIC if they were allowed to carry weapons to defend themselves or not ... alot of the junior officers did allow them to defend themselves while doing these tasks ... the whole idea was to make dang sure others saw that this type of crimes were not tolerated within their ranks.
Now the men who committed major crimes were sent to the rear to be court-martialed and if guilty of that crime were shot or hung. Even after the mutinies men still were shot or hung for major crimes ... the regular men in the ranks did not tolerate this type of behavior.
Patrick
 
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