Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The end of the war to end all wars

On November 11th, 1918, forever after commemorated as Armistice Day and/or Remembrance Day (except in the US, where some lunatic politicians decided to amalgamate it with the commemoration of veterans, and thus lose its unique and historic character), the First World War came to an end.

The killing was over - and there'd been plenty of it . . . almost ten million battlefield deaths, almost seven million civilian deaths, and over twenty-one million battlefield wounded. Astonishingly, sickeningly, the killing didn't stop even on that last day of the war. Unfeeling, uncaring commanders sent their men to die up to the very last moment, not bothering to consider that attacks were no longer necessary.

The BBC made an excellent documentary on the events of that last day of World War I, which has been posted to YouTube. For those who'd like to take the time to recall the experiences and achievements of their relatives all those decades ago, here it is, in five parts.

For myself, I'll be thinking of my maternal grandfather today. He and his wife lived with us when I was a baby, although both died before I was of schoolgoing age. I remember my grandfather mostly because of his uncontrollable coughing . . . the fruit of a German gas attack on the British trenches during World War I. He never fully recovered from the injuries he sustained.

May he, and the other forgotten veterans of that war, rest in peace.



Bob G. said...

A moving tribute...indeed.

Freedom is never free.

Have a blessed day.

ajdshootist said...

Peter my Grandfather was Gassed in the First WW but died while serving as a Sgt in the Home Guard during the Second in 1943 due to his lungs being weak from the gassing.

Crucis said...

My Uncle went into Mexico with Pershing and spent WW1 patrolling the border in west Texas and New Mexico. My Mother's cousin fought in France as a Marine. Here's a link to a story about him that I posted last year.

Old NFO said...

Excellent post Peter, thank you.

Michael W. said...

Hello Peter,

I mildly disagree with your assessment of the politicians who added the commemoration of Veteran's Day with Armistice Day.

I wasn't there so I don't know what the full details`were on the decision, but I would say that that since America didn't have the casualties that Great Britain and her Commonwealth forces suffered, there wasn't as strong feeling for commemoration here in the states. As you are`aware, we have Memorial Day (or as the old timers call it, Decoration Day) which commemorates our fallen soldiers. I think that Veteran's Day is for those who survived the wars. After all the true winners of war ARE the survivors.