On the 4th of August 1914 the so called “War to End all Wars” became the world obsession until 11 November 1918. It was not a healthy obsession, in fact it was a disaster of global proportions, and would bring forth an even greater carnage in 1939.
On this date, 100 years ago, Britain declared war on Germany. The carnage was about to commence.
“The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time”.
A lantern from Delville Wood.
The problem is, there are no more living soldiers from that war who can remind us of what they went through, and we are 100 years divorced from this day in history. We concern ourselves with mundane things like bandwidth, mobile devices, nail art, vapid celebrities, fashion, and materialism. The men in the trenches were probably more concerned that those who sent them into battle were seemingly so divorced from the battlefield that they threw away lives in a seemingly concerted effort to rack up the most casualties in one day.
It is difficult to really picture the monstrous battles with the sunny skies and trees and red blood spilling on the shell ravaged battlefield, it is impossible to imagine waiting for the whistle to blow and mounting the parapet of the trench to die a few steps later. I cannot imagine the courage of those men who walked across no mans land because some ass of a staff officer decreed it so. Of course our view of the war is not from the German point of view either, in fact I suspect that there is very little written about the German troops who waited in their dugouts for the barrage to lift so that they could start to massacre the oncoming Tommy regiments.
I have found a few books that deal with the casualty clearing stations, but I cannot quite get my head around the thought of the pain and suffering that happened there. Or the doctors and staff that had to make some sort of sense out of the carnage. It is all surreal, it doesn’t exist in our 24 million colour LED monitors, instead it is in 256 shades of grey.
The commemoration is gearing up in a large way here in the UK, and I expect that by the time Remembrance Day arrives on 11 November many people will be thinking of that day in a new light. Tonight all around Britain people will be turning off their lights at 10pm, my own lights are going out shortly after I publish this blogpost. it is a small way to recognise that this was a momentous event in history, and one that will be remembered all around the globe, albeit in a globe that still fights wars, still kills innocents, and still does not realise that it is all really senseless.
Tonight we remember the soldiers, sailors, airmen, nurses, and all service personnel and their loved ones, we remember them because we dare not forget!