Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Armistice Turns 100



We took these photographs on a cold rainy day at the Somme Battlefields, in June 2016. 

That year marked the centennial of the Battle of the Somme, which actually comprised a series of bloody trench-warfare battles between the British and French armies, and the armies of the German Empire.  

Across nearly five months, three million soldiers fought and more than one million were killed or wounded.  On the first day of the battle, the British suffered 57,470 casualties, of which 19,240 were fatalities.  Most historians agree that neither side won.

As is the case in many World War I cemeteries, more than one thousand of the headstones bear the inscription, A Soldier of the Great War, Known Unto God

Here are two quotations that I like.

Every war is ironic because every war is worse than expected.  Every war constitutes an irony of situation because its means are so melodramatically disproportionate to its presumed ends. 



Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word – the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.**






*Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (1975).
**Last verse of MCMXIV, by British poet laureate Philip Larkin (1964).

http://www.throughthehourglass.com/

1 comment:

  1. Indeed, the disproportionality was at a level never seen before, and so universally felt on both side. When quick victory did not materialize for either, virtually ever cheering soldier in August 1914 would have happily gone home by early 1915. Coming on top of the prosperity of La Belle Epoque, nothing about this war really made any sense. And the one lesson we might have learned - nationalism and militarism are crimes against humanity - seem to be relearned and unlearned with numbing regularity.
    Of course I thought of you today. And my grandfather.

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