• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Were Morant and Handcock murderers or 'scapegoats of the empire'?

Extracts from this document...


Were Morant and Handcock murderers or 'scapegoats of the empire'? The legend that Morant and Handcock were Australians wronged by the British army is, indeed, a legend.1 As commented by Australian historian Dr Craig Wilcox, Australia's only soldiers ever to have been shot by a firing squad following a court martial, Lieutenants Harry 'The Breaker' Morant and Peter Joseph Handcock were justly dealt with. The myth regarding the harsh, unjust treatment of both men and the association between the Morant legend and Australian nationalism is seemingly na�ve and doubtful. However conflict of Morant's personality remains prominent amongst historians. The revival of the Morant legend is owed to the Bruce Beresford film, based upon nationalistic writings influenced by personal agenda such as George Witton's Scapegoats of the Empire. The realities and truths of Morant's life differ substantially to the legend. Morant and Handcock were not scapegoats but heartless murderers. Harry Morant and Peter Handcock were unstable men, held a desire accompanied with revenge to kill the Boer prisoners and carried out the unwarranted killing of an innocent German missionary. Harry 'the Breaker' Morant, 'a scapegoat of his own unstable character'2 and P.J. ...read more.


George Witton to counsel Major JF Thomas further questions Morant's persona and ability to speak the truth, I believe Morant got Handcock to deny his previous statement in which he made a clean breast of everything and they got to work to frame up an alibi... The reliability of the source is immense, as Witton wrote in defence of Morant and Handcock while critiquing the British High Command. Writer Max Sollitt comments on the nature of Morant's integrity with the jurisdiction, ..Morant falsified reports...clear he had not the slightest belief that he was carrying out open and legal orders as he claimed at his court-martial. Morant's perceived 'virtuous and legendary' character is further contradicted by the fifteen officers within the Bushveldt Carbineers. In disgust they reported Morant to the High Command and supplied evidence against him. Despite this, many continue to argue Morant was viewed in high esteem by his military contemporaries. The 'righteous' Breaker also held the reputation as a mule thief during the Boer War and experienced marital problems with wife, Daisy O'Dwyer. A month after the marriage he was in trouble with the law over unpaid bills and a stolen saddle, and his disillusioned bride told him to take a walk and not return until he reformed. ...read more.


This event was the final violation, and great resentment was felt towards Australian troopers, After this episode there was almost a mutiny amongst the Australian troopers at the fort and a letter was sent to Colonel Hall (British commandant of the Pietersburg area) making allegations against their officers.9 In conclusion, Harry 'The Breaker' Morant and Peter Joseph Handcock were not heroes or freedom fighters to be lauded. Both men were undesirable characters with cruel, callous and crude traits. Both were responsible for the deaths of Boers prisoners without trial and an innocent holy man. Their awful deeds not only brought a premature end to their lives, but great embarrassment to other Australians abroad and at home. These men were not scapegoats. Rather, they exploited the opportunities and circumstances provided by the British forces to carry out what they pleased. 1 The Breaker Morant and Peter Handcock Case, Dr Craig Wilcox 2 Carnegie: 1979: 10-1 3 The Bulletin, 19th April 1902, Frank Fox 4 Closed File, Kit Denton 5 The Breaker Morant and Peter Handcock Case, Dr Craig Wilcox 6 The Myth of Harry 'Breaker' Morant, Max Sollit 7 The Myth of Harry 'Breaker' Morant, Max Sollit 8 The Myth of Harry 'Breaker' Morant, Max Sollit 9 The Myth of Harry 'Breaker' Morant, Max Sollit ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Capital Punishment section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Capital Punishment essays

  1. Don Delillo has been described as a disturbing writer.

    Baudrillard discusses the changes in the ideology of death in society. Another Post-modern theorist Francois Lyotard speaks of why this change in attitudes towards death has emerged as society has developed from the modern to the post-modern. He discusses how post-modern society differs from the modern society that preceded it

  2. Vampires in Myth & History

    This split caused a big difference in the development of vampire lore - the Roman church believed incorrupt bodies were saints, while the Orthodox church believed they were vampires. The origin of Slavic vampire myths developed during 9th C as a result of conflict between pre-Christian paganism and Christianity.

  1. Symbolism in the scarlet letter

    through the whole ugliness of his figure, and making itself even riotously manifest by the extravagant gestures with which he threw up his arms towards the ceiling, and stamped his foot upon the floor! Had a man seen old Roger Chillingsworth, at that moment of his ecstasy, he would have

  2. Speaking and Listening If we execute murderers and there is in fact no ...

    However, the need for reform is not a reason to oppose the death penalty. Another weapon used to fight capital punishment is the Holy Bible, the "source of all morality." Some Christians claim that we have no right to play God by pointing out the 6th commandment in Exodus 20:13

  1. The British Penal System

    The theory of VINDICATION- this theory bases its idea that criminal activity is justified as a prohibited act so therefore it is appropriate crime should be punished and the law is followed. SENTENCING Sentencing is the decision of the courts of law as to what punishment is passed on to a convicted person.

  2. How does Peter Medak gain the viewers sympathy for Derek Bentley in the film ...

    Iris, his sister who was also very close with him, encouraged him to go out and face the world, to buy himself a record. We see a Birdseye shot, looking down on Derek and Iris talking on Derek's bed, making them seem isolated. Iris opens Derek's curtains, letting in light.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work