Lest We Forget

I actually always hope we forget. And future generations never know. I really hope that war and conflict join slavery and dueling as relics of the past. Then perhaps the dead of Flanders, Waterloo, Gettysburg, Stalingrad, Singapore, Yarmuk and Canne as well as thousands of other fields across the ages will finally find peace.

No doubt chowder is wiser than I in these matters, for he is older, but I do not believe Christianity, for a start, offered any promise of peace on earth any time this side of the big trumpet solo.

What I do know, and had confirmed by the size of the congregations at the three services I blew my trumpet at on Sunday, is that religion, whatever its failings, often provides solace to those who otherwise struggle to come to terms with suffering, sacrifice and bereavement. That’s enough for me.

My dad is in his 80’s now. He’s a widower after 55 years of happy marriage, and he’s shrinking into himself every day. He’s still sharp as a tack, but he’s not a healthy man.

He served on a battleship in WW2. Thanks, pop. I love you.

But at the time, it wasn’t known if the Armistice was the end of the war or not. That’s why it was an Armistice, not a surrender. Nor was it known at that time if Germany would willingly retreat to its pre-war boundaries. There still was an incentive for the Allies to try to regain occupied French and Belgian territory, if possible. For all they knew at the time, the exact location of the lines of the troops at 11 a.m. on November 11 might be setting the boundaries, just as the location of the Soviet and western Allied troops in 1945 effectively set the boundaries for the partition of Germany for over 40 years.

In one of the other threads, Mycroft H. posted an excerpt from his grandfather’s diary on November 11, 1918 which illustrates this point well:

The wisdom of this approach has to be judged based on the information available to the commanders at the time, not with the hindsight that the Armistice was in fact the end of the war.

For those who are interested in this issue, check out the book The Last Day, The Last Hour: The Currie Libel Trial. It’s an account of a libel trial in Canada, where a newspaper published highly critical remarks about the Canadian advance into Mons on November 11, and the decision by the top Canadian general, Arthur Currie, to order that advance. Currie sued the paper for libel, successfully.

Age does not neccesarily mean wisdom my friend.

My point about religion was meant to convey the idea that without it humankind would not be at loggerheads over which one is the right one.

FWIW I used to believe in an Almighty, at aged 14 or thereabouts I realised that if there was a God he had a piss poor sense of humour given the millions who had died in his name.

As Al Pacino said in Devils Advocate :

“Gods up there laughing his ass off!”

Eh. By 1918, the cost of attempting to advance was known to be excruciating, the distances advanced known to be small – many major offensives, such as the Somme, were never intended to reach the third trench line, and thus could not possibly have resulted in significant territorial gain (a few hundred yards deep by a few thousand yards across at most).

Therefore the command decision was to trade hundreds, even thousands of lives for a small patch of torn-up soil on the assumption that the Armistice wouldn’t work out as hoped. Or, conversely, to seize on the Armistice as an excuse to stop the senseless killing under one’s immediate control and hope that it would become permanent.

I’m relatively comfortable making that moral judgment, even from my armchair.

Yeah, it’s tragic to think of 65,000,000 men at war because the Kaiser didn’t like the way someone else said their prayers.

pauses, as if uncertain, then decides to let it go

You need to read up on the war again, the Germans reintroduced manover in spring 1918, the battlefield became fluid again, by the time of the armstice; the allied had advanced nearly a 120 miles from the August positions.

The artillerymen on both sides had three choices,return their large stocks of potentially dangerous,heavy and awkward to manage artillery shells to the rear.
Largely by manhandling in difficult conditions,with a great deal of paperwork and accounting all the way down the line to be taken into consideration.

Gather their munitions together and destroy them in controlled explosions,physically hard work and potentially dangerous.

Or fire them off.

It sounds cynical but I know how things work and I know which of the options was the real one.

Or save them until 1939

And yet, were unlikely to advance that far in the time between sunrise and 11:00 AM on the morning the Armistice was scheduled. Right?