Remembering the Great War

 by Miles Davidson

Wilfred Owen's grave
This Remembrance Sunday offers the opportunity to explore the closing stages of one of the most violent and bloody wars ever to be witnessed by mankind.

Coming with that, I wished to further this with an introduction to the final offensive of World War 1, undertaken by the Allies, in which some 1,150 men died as soon as they appeared in the sights of the German machine gun positions. These 1,150 men died for a cause that was already won, and peace was achieved on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, roughly a week after the start of the offensive that would end the lives of thousands of young men. One of those young men would turn out to be Wilfred Own, the famed war poet, who had returned from an injury that should have kept him out of the war permanently. Just one of those men whose sacrifice saved the country, our way of life and everything in between. Any issues faced today, any experiences we go through, truly pale in comparison to their situation. And for this reason, I decided to write this article: an acknowledgement of their deaths, as the country has been doing ever since the final day.

The Battle of the Sambre, the final offensive of the war, highlights everything that I believe was wrong with the War. With the final lunge never needing to have happened, with so many men endangered for little gain. For so many deaths and no clear reasoning behind it. For example, the offensive was only supported with 37 tanks due to the Tank Corps’ resources being stretched too thin. A 10 metre wide canal was ordered to be crossed by the men. The Germans responded by taking at least a thousand lives. Simply so the Allied forces could take another ‘victory’, another battle reported to be won. Ignore the cost of it, victory is the objective. A bittersweet ‘victory’ won in the next week, ending a 4 year conflict that would take the lives of over 20 million people, 20 million men, 20 million boys. Yet it was ignored. 1000 men in the context of millions is but a drop in the sea of death. The ideology of leaders, still held by some to this day. The Battle of the Somme. A bloodbath. Possibly the most legendary bloodbath in all of British military history. Yet it was considered a success. A victory, a victory well fought. Of course, the dead are acknowledged and they shall never be forgotten. They should never be forgotten.

(image by Tony Hicks)

It is now I will praise the British way of remembrance, for it is truly the most beautiful offered by any country across the world. The touching tributes seen from almost every citizen across this nation is surely enough to make anyone reminisce about what could have been of these great men who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the hope that one day those that suffered could live in peace.

And it is with this statement that I would like to say that these soldiers should remain in history for the rest of eternity. For good or bad, their sacrifices paved the way for the world we live in today. Not just the sacrifices made in 1914-1918, 1939-45, 1982,1991. The sacrifices that are made to this day, in wars from countries many miles away. They continue to live on, in the spirit of all things good. At the going down of the sun and in the morning.

We will remember them.