THE great nephew of the first soldier to be shot for desertion during the First World War has challenged a parish council to fulfil its promise.

Terrence Highgate says now the Government plans to pardon 306 soldiers executed during the 1914-1918 conflict, he wants Shoreham Village to honour his great uncle Private Thomas Highgate.

Although the 19-year-old was one of the village's war dead, his name has never appeared on its memorial.

Pte Highgate, who was found hiding in a barn and wearing civilian clothes after fleeing from the Battle of Mons in Belgium, was found guilty of desertion at court martial and shot at dawn in September 18, 1914.

Earlier this month, Defence Secretary Des Browne announced he would be seeking a group pardon for all the soldiers shot for desertion, cowardice and other offences.

Now Mr Highgate, 67, is calling on Shoreham's parish council and British Legion to place Pte Highgate's name on the memorial.

There was a heated debate in the village in 2000 when it was discussed whether the name should go on its newly refurbished memorial. A gap was left in case Pte Highgate was ever pardoned.

Now Mr Highgate, of Northumberland Park, Erith, says it is time for Shoreham to honour its pledge.

The retired mechanic said: "I am pleased about the pardon. It will be welcomed, but it is obviously too late.

"The only thing I want is for the people of Shoreham, who said if ever he was pardoned his name would be put on the plaque, to fulfil their promise so my great-uncle can rest in peace and dignity."

Shoreham Parish Council chairman Councillor John Keates says discussions on whether to add Pte Highgate's name will be held next month.

The blanket pardon will be discussed as part of the Armed Forces Bill which is currently going through Parliament.