World War 1 Thoughts

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World War 1 – Thoughts on the 100 Year Anniversary

World War 1 – All those who fell during the unspeakable carnage of a war that was supposed to ‘end all wars’, are back in the public consciousness now that we have reached the 100 year milestone of Britain’s entry into the war.

It always moves me when I see the World War l graves both here and in France and am reminded of the tender ages many of the soldiers were.

Walking past each grave and seeing the ages of the men is always a sobering experience  but they would all, of course, be dead by now even if they had lived out their natural lives.

Forever 19

But many of the younger ones would have had children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren  if war had not robbed them of the chance. The older ones who already had children left behind them a generation deprived of fathers whose lives were wiped out in the relentless hell of barbed wire, bullets and bombs they had no hope of beating.

Many of those who did return were not the same men who left to go to war and found it hard to fit back into normal life again.

The grim reality of trench warfare is way beyond the comprehension of most of us but if you click here you can go to Part 1 of a four-part series on shell-shock which gives a very good insight into what the soldiers suffered both on and off the battlefield. It isn’t for the faint-hearted so please do not follow this link if you  are adversely affected by graphic images of  mental suffering.

Shell-shocked is a term we all use in everyday life to describe some ‘catastrophe’ we have encountered as in ‘I was totally shell-shocked when I saw the price of Nike trainers’ but after seeing this film, I will never use that term again unless I am unfortunate enough to find myself with a nervous system shot to bits by a war.

It’s never a good thing to dwell on misery but I do think it is important to remember, from time to time, that World War 1 was touted as being ‘the war to end all wars’ and millions of people believed what they were told as they went off to be killed, maimed or to develop a serious, much misunderstood mental illness because the horrific reality of the war was too much to bear.

Maybe it would all have been worthwhile if it really had been ‘the war to end all wars’. Maybe if  the senseless deaths of young men and women of all nationalities were not still happening, we could say that the misery of World War 1 was worth it.

Am I missing something? But doesn’t war make millions for all those who rely on lengthy conflicts to keep their armaments factories turning a healthy profit?

Isn’t that why innocent people continue to die and adventurous young men and women  all over the world continue to  be seduced by the glorified call to join their country’s army?

It does seem pretty crazy to me that we are sitting here 100 years away from World War 1 saying how terrible it was while people are engaged in vicious fighting at this very minute and wealthy factory owners are churning out the means to keep it going. Not to mention the share-holders who live quite nicely off the proceeds.

It is all very well for the Great and the Good to lead public displays of emotion about a War that happened 100 years ago but it all seems a little hollow when you consider the roles our leaders are still playing in wars all over the world today.

We really are a strange bunch.