Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Whenever I am in northern France or Belgium I like to call in at the local Commonwealth War Cemetery (there is always one nearby) and pay my respects. I stand there in Flanders Fields in tears silently raging at the utter futility of the 1914-18 war and the loss of so many young lives. Tyne Cot near Passendael shredded me.
Every November 11th, we have Rememberance Day, or Armistice Day as it was. I am annually shocked by the comments that come out of people, but particularly this year. One man intoned that everyone should be forced to wear a poppy. He might as well have insisted that we all wear armbands. A more general opinion is that these boys gave their lives for our freedom. No they didn't. They were slaughtered simply to maintain the status quo. The 1914-18 war was nothing to do with fighting for freedom. It was a massive failure of politics and diplomacy that degenerated into a "defender's war" where massacre was the inevitable price of outdated generals fighting the wrong war. 1939-45 was totally different and had to be fought.
Yet on May 8th we will watch the anniversary of VE Day go by without a flutter.
Next time you are near Arnhem go to the Oosterbeek cemetery. Well worth your tears.

1 comment:

GC said...

Outdated generals using outdated tactics.

Trench warfare when you have machine guns, tanks and aeroplanes is a bit laughable. Well it would be if so many people weren't killed.

Anyway, there are only three British people who are allowed to tell us to wear a poppy as far as I'm concerned. I bet they wouldn't force us though.

Politics and diplomacy failed and started the war. They also failed at the end and provided the roots of WWII.