Rules for Surrendering in a battle

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by vashstampede, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    In every war, there are POWs resulted from capturing by force (injured so badly that couldn't even move), but more often the POWs surrendered on their own due to other situations.

    Every military would hate their soldiers to surrender in a battle, but reasonable commanders would make (rules) for when it is acceptable to surrender.

    From what I heard, a few "acceptable" situations for surrender are
    1. Out of ammunition
    2. being surrounded and cut off
    3. Lost communication
    4. Injured and unable to fight on

    What other situations are ok to surrender? Both acceptable to you and what you have learned from the military?
  2. teamrose

    teamrose Member

    Why do soldiers wave a white flag to surrender? Why not a red or black cloth?
  3. Steed

    Steed Member

    It's medieval I believe, teamrose.
    In a battle between men with heavy armour, it was necessary to show your allegiance by the design on your shield. If somebody appeared in front of you with a Fleur-de- Lys on his shield you knew he was a Frenchman so you could biff him with your mace. If he had the rose, he was English so friendly and to be protected.
    This was also useful because very few people outside monasteries could read or write, so the coat of arms on the shield indicated visually the knight.

    So if you wanted to surrender in the Middle Ages (much more common BTW as people frequently changed sides in battle depending on who was winning) up went your white flag to show your allegiance was broken and you were surrendering.
  4. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Interesting, but you guys are changing the topic without answering the questions first. :confused:
    RcNu likes this.
  5. Steed

    Steed Member

    Fair point Vash.

    In answer to your question, I think it's ok to surrender if the alternative is death, and the victorious side should be magnanimous enough to offer an honourable surrender to the beaten side before killing them.

    Have you seen the movie Waterloo, for example? Right at the end the last remants of the French Imperial Guard are completely cornered by the British as night falls. Wellington, playing correctly by the rules of war, offers them an honourable surrender. They refuse two or three times, so he just blasts them to the next life with his artillery at point blank range. Game Over. They had had the choice.

    I agree that your point 4 is a valid reason for surrender, but not 1,2 or 3 just taken by themselves. The Gloucestershire Regiment continued to fight on holding hill 235 at Imjin River in Korea, Britain's bloodiest battle since WW2.
    They were out of ammo and just fighting with bayonets, boots and fists and anything else that was useful, totally surrounded and cut off. Their heroism stalled the entire Chinese army pushing through vulnerable UN positions and gave the other UN forces time to defend and hold the route to Seul. Although the Glosters finally surrendered when it was clear they would be killed otherwise, the battle shows how to fight back overwhelming numbers by sheer courage.
  6. teamrose

    teamrose Member

    The rules of conduct say:
    Only when the enemy can no longer be evaded and further fighting would cause the soldier's death with no significant decrease in enemy forces.
  7. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    @ Steed,
    Since you said it is acceptable to surrender when the alternative is death, in many situations out of ammo mean certain death if keep on fighting without ammo. It makes things worth if you are cut off and surrounded with no way out. That means you can't retreat and regroup. Lost communication and unable to get a picture of what's going on and can't receive order on what to do would just add more trouble to it. I know every single one of them might not be enough to surrender, but when you combined all of them, the situation looks pretty hopeless to me.

    Sometimes when the communication still works, the high command actually would allow the surrounded troops to surrender in order to avoid more pointless deaths. I think it is a humane thing to do.
  8. teamrose

    teamrose Member

    At least in our army we don't recommend committing suicide when all appears lost. Many armies tell their soldiers it is honorable to commit suicide.
  9. jayjacinto

    jayjacinto New Member

    Commit suicide? It sounds patriotic but I'm just wondering, is committing suicide considered not surrendering? or admitting to being lost?
  10. teamrose

    teamrose Member

    Not only does suicide go against most religions, it is just simply immoral. Suicide is a defeatist attitude. Never give up is the best way to go.
  11. Kiamoko

    Kiamoko Member

    Surrendering can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Sometimes you just have no way out of a situation and as long as the other side is going to also do the honorable thing (which in most situations you would have to take on faith alone) then the only thing to do is surrender. Even if every ounce of your being is telling you to flee this is not always what you should do.

    On suicide. This was acceptable in Samurai culture and often when one would surrender the other side would allow the samurai to do just that. It was seen as an honorable death.
  12. teamrose

    teamrose Member

    A good soldier could under the right circumstances surrender his body. However, a good soldier would never surrender his mind. The whole time while in captivity, a good soldier should be thinking of ways to escape. Trying to remain observant is also helpful because there may be opportunities to commit sabotage. A good soldier never stops soldiering.
  13. Kiamoko

    Kiamoko Member

    I like this reply a lot. I agree that a good soldier never stops trying. While he or she may have no other option to surrender they should never give up up of escape, rescue or helping from the inside. This is why i have so much respect for my military.
  14. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    A POW is under the protection of Geneva Convention. The captors have the responsibility to take care of the POW, provide food, shelter, medicare... generally speaking to keep them alive and well.

    However, if the POW wants to sabotage or commit other acts against the captors, then it's a free game. He would no longer be treated as a POW, more like a saboteur. He can be shot.
  15. teamrose

    teamrose Member

    It is true when you are a POW you are under the protection of the Geneva Convention, but we all have seen the atrocities that have happened to our POWs. In fact, we were all witness to a beheading by one of our soldiers. War is hell. There may never ever be a chance to commit acts of sabotage, but one should always be "thinking" of ways to escape and ways to help their country. Going to war, there is always a chance of being killed. The risk grows exponentially after capture. Again, I say, one may have to surrender the body, but never the mind.
  16. Tristan009

    Tristan009 New Member

    Committing suicide was once honourable, but in this day and age isn't it considered cowardice?
  17. SabraO

    SabraO New Member

    I think it is, but by the same token some people consider surrendering to be tantamount to cowardice. No one tells stories of the guys who gave up; we tell stories of the ones who fight on until they cannot anymore. The most recent recipients of the Medal of Honor here in the US were men who kept fighting until they were killed. If I recall correctly, there was one Navy SEAL who moved from location to location trying to reestablish communications and continued firing on the enemy despite being grievously wounded. He did not surrender (which, being that this was Afghanistan, would have meant death anyway).

    And I think we should all keep in mind the Geneva Conventions only apply to those countries who were signatories. The most recent conflicts of the US military (all I feel comfortable speaking of) have not been with countries who signed that treaty.
  18. Vladimir

    Vladimir Siberian Tiger

    Especially by the Japanese.

    Those days, before the Geneva convention, being taken as a POW was almost equivalent to getting killed in the battle (for example take the Germany vs USSR battles in the WW2).

    Things have changed now.... If you are taken as POW in Europe or in the Americas (with the exception of Chechenya), you don't have to worry too much.

    However, I still remember reading that the Indian prisoners taken as POW during the 1999 Kargil War by the Pakistanis were brutally tortured before their execution. So outside the Americas and Europe, the picture is still blurry.
  19. Mike Rice

    Mike Rice New Member

    It dates back to the Roman Empire during the Eastern Han dynasty. before that the Roman armies would surrender by holding their shields above their heads. The color white was used generally to indicate a person was exempt from combat and has always remained white. It is also considered a war crime for improper use of a white flag.
  20. RcNu

    RcNu Member

    Honestly its never okay to surrender UNLESS you are fighting the US.
    US has rules that they go buy, but every other country will be serving up bloody torture.
    You will die anyway so its best to go out with honor.

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