THE families of British soldiers shot by their own side in the First World War will march for the first time in this year's Cenotaph veterans' parade in London.

Maureen Kendrick, a relative of a county soldier who was executed during the war after taking cover in a dugout during an assault, has welcomed the move.

It will be the first time the descendants of men - shot for various offences which included desertion, cowardice and even murder - have been included in the parade.

They will be joined by more than 50 civilian groups connected to the "Home Front" following a decision by the Royal British Legion to open the parade to some non-military groups.

The RBL and the WW1 Pardons Association - usually known as Shot at Dawn - share the aim of securing pardons for the 307 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were shot.

Mrs Kendrick says the decision is a "step in the right direction" but she is still calling for the soldiers to receive pardons.

She remains convinced her father's first cousin, Sgt John Wall, was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

He was a Second Sergeant with six platoon of The Worcestershire Regiment and was shot after taking cover at Bellewaerde Ridge, Ypres, on August, 10, 1917.

A court martial was told the dugout was not in the line of fire. Sgt Wall maintained in his defence that he had rammed his rifle across a trench to impede pursuing German soldiers and had not wilfully thrown his rifle away.

Sgt Wall had seen much action over the three years of the war and had been in France and Belgium right from the first battle at Mons, in August, 1914. Despite being executed for desertion Sgt Wall's name was included on a plaque installed at Bockleton Church, near Tenbury.

"I've just found out about the parade and the fact that families are allowed to march," she said.

"I won't actually be going down but I think it's a good sign. Obviously what the families would really like is for the soldiers to be given a pardon.

"My relative was just coming up for 21 when he was shot. They were made examples of.

"Most of this has only just come to light because the records of what happened to the soldiers have only just been released in the last few years."

'The men should be pardoned'

ALL eight soldiers serving with the Worcestershire regiment who were executed for cowardice on the battlefields should be pardoned, according to county campaigners.

At a full council meeting in May last year, councillors voted for representations to be made to the Government for a pardon for the soldiers.

Councillor Tom Wareing, who had three relatives fighting in the First World War, said at the time it was right to pardon the men, who, he added, were probably traumatised.

City Councillor Adrian Gregson has also called for the men to be pardoned. They were among 307 soldiers shot at dawn for various battlefield offences. Mr Gregson has been backed by a number of councillors in calling for the pardon, including the current Mayor of Worcester Coun Mary Drinkwater.

The eight soldiers shot at dawn were: Pte Bert Hartells, aged 32; Pte Ernest Fellows, aged 29; Pte Alfred Thompson, aged 25; Pte John Robinson, aged 31; Sgt John Wall, who died two days before his 22cnd birthday; Pte Oliver Hodgetts, shot in his teens; Cpl Fred Ives, aged 30; Pte R Young, aged 21, shot just two months before the end of the war.