100 years ago today (July 1st) was the opening day of the murderous WW1 Battle of the Somme.
I am in no way qualified to talk about it beyond stating over a million people were killed over the duration of the months the Battle (series of battles really, according to Wiki) lasted.
However small a gesture it is, this is my little tribute to those who died. Those men (on both sides) were much braver than I know myself to be. Such a terrible thing. 100 years have gone by since then, for the young folks today that probably seems like it was in another ancient era. I was born in the ’70’s and grew up on a healthy diet (so to speak) of the plethora of war films (usually WW2) that BBC2 would show (seemingly every day). To me the events of WW2 are not so distant in the past, as only 30 years had passed between the end of WW2 and my birth, consequently the events of WW1 while certainly more distant, are not that far in the mists of time as, perhaps, the Boer War (by way of example).
But pretty fields of flowers are just an abstraction.
Here we have a couple of pictures from Gloucester Cathedral, the names in these books are of those who died in WW2 who were linked to the parish.
I took a drive today the National Memorial Arboretum in Tamworth, UK. Until very recently I never even knew it existed. And given how much building work is still being done all over the site I suspect the whole enterprise is fairly new, although the Wikipedia entry tells us it has been open since 2001.
And since I discovered a memorial of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who of course wrote “In Flanders Fields” , and while is doesn’t directly relate to the Somme, I felt we could give him the last words. Even though I have only recently posted up the famous poem, I am more than happy to repeat myself.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
As ever, thanks for looking.