Friday, November 11, 2011

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month...

...the guns fell silent.

The '14-'18 War left scars that linger to this day.

The scale of the mechanized slaughter on the Western Front is nearly impossible for us to grasp. For example, consider the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, which reads:
Here are recorded names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.
It is inscribed with 72,000 names.


Anonymous said...

I've been to Verdun, traveling with a friend who had just read The Price of Glory. Visiting Ft. Douaumont I remarked on the 10,000 or so crosses in the graveyard. He drew my attention to the large stone building behind us.
The bones of something like 100,000 are resting there. There are windows where you can look inside to see the piles of skulls. Haunting.


Anonymous said...

The crater from a 46,000 lb ammonium nitrate mine at the Somme.


staghounds said...

Spent the morning there.

It is just terrible, and terrifying.

I always look for poor blind John Kipling's name, and Saki's.

"...Sneak home and pray you'll never know

The hell where youth and laughter go."

Bram said...

Not hard to argue that Europe literally ruined itself in that war and finished the job in the next. The best and bravest were exterminated - the offspring of the weak and cowardly are running the EU into the ground.

Anonymous said...

72,000+ is a haunting number, but remember that this is only the number that were MISSING or could not be itentified . . . on only ONE SIDE of the conflict!

The totals for the Somme ended up being in six months over 625,000 killed on the allied side and almost 240,000 on the German side (killed, not wounded).

Heck, on the FIRST DAY there were over 60,000 casulties (more than 20,000 dead) for just the British.

Numbers to truly deaden the mind.

No slight to the brave men and women who fought (and died) in the Second World War, Korea, etc., but because the First World War not only failed to halt German aggression and the settlement did more to foster WWII than anything else, the veterans and war dead from WWI too often get ignored by history.

No other generation sacrificed so much and particularly got so little in return.

I'm proud to remember that Veteran's Day owes its origin in Armistice Day - Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month!

-- Bowser

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the "Names of the Honored Dead," I had the surreal experience of finding my own name on the Vietnam War Memorial several years ago. It got weirder when I found out that Marine Captain Robert Reed was killed on the same day I was born.

I posted about him over at my LJ today. April 5, 1967 was a very bad day for the Marines of the 1/9 Infantry near Ap Dong Ho.

Rob Reed

Tam said...

I usually try and give the Somme its own post most years...

Anonymous said...

Missed the usual V/D picture.

Old NFO said...

Thanks for remembering Tam.

Tam said...

"Missed the usual V/D picture."

Did you perhaps mean the usual Memorial Day picture?

Stretch said...

On 11/11 I fly a 48 star flag. It's the one that covered my Grandfather Smith's casket. He was gassed in France in 1918. Died in '44 of emphysema. He was in a machine gun unit. His brother-in-law (my great uncle) and my father's namesake Lawrence carried an 8mm bullet in his neck until he died at the age of 89.
On Memorial Day the same flag starts the day at half staff. At Noon of Memorial Day I replace it with a 50 star flag at full staff.

Least We Forget.

Anonymous said...

I have in my posession a Livre d'Honneur published in '18 detailed all the WWI war dead from a town in Normandy.
It's rather appallingly thick, and since it's alphabetical by last name, you can see entire generations of male members of families side by side. Big, catholic families.

My breton grandafather used to recall finding a "his" postman sitting by the side of road by his bicycle crying and innocently asking him as a small boy what was wrong. And not understanding why all the pretty yellow paper was so sad.

(Telegrams of the epoch were printed on yellow paper, and delivered by mail man to outlying areas.) The telegrams were of the "we regret to inform you" nature from the War Dept. The local infantry Regiments had gone up onto the line earlier that week. They weren't coming back.

Anonymous said...

Stretch, I salute you for the way you honor you grandfather.


Tam said...

I got pretty choked up reading that.

Anonymous said...

MEMORIAL DAY!!! Well yes, of course!!

Justthisguy said...

Stretch, yes, you did lubricate my eyeballs a bit.

Justthisguy said...

My kitteh's previous human was a very old UKish (also proudly Irish) lady, born in 1914 and raised "out East", in Malaya.

Her family had been in that business for a long time. She had an Uncle Arthur who was blown to Irish particles (smithereens) in the Retreat from Mons, and a grandfather in the Blues (the Heavy Brigade) at Balaklava. She married an American redleg, and spent WWII peacefully with him in Antigua.

Justthisguy said...

P.s. Her husband, the American redleg officer, took a trip to France in the twenties when he was a Boy Scout. He got to see Verdun when it was still pretty Godawful, and still, y'know, smelled bad.

They had built the Ossuary by then, and I saw some of the picture postcards of that which he brought home.

Justthisguy said...

That Daily Mail link made my eyes a bit wet, but when I got into the comments I started actually sobbing.