This is a first for the British military in what might be described as modern times.
A corporal today became the first member of the British armed forces to admit a war crime in court when he pleaded guilty to inhumanely treating civilians detained in Iraq.Curiously, Payne's admission of guilt isn't going to prevent a hearing on the charge since his version of events is different from those known to the prosecutor.
Corporal Donald Payne is one of seven British troops who went on trial today facing charges linked to the death of an Iraqi civilian who was in British custody and to the alleged ill-treatment of other detainees.
The charges against all the defendants - which include two officers - relate to the death of Baha Musa, 26, an Iraqi civilian, in Basra, southern Iraq, in September 2003.
The opening of today's court martial at Bulford Camp on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, marks the first time British service personnel have been prosecuted for war crimes under the International Criminal Court Act 2001.
The trial is scheduled to last 16 weeks and includes charges against the colonel commanding the regiment. Which is more appropriate than the methods used against the Bushveldt Carbineers in the last century.