With the centenary of the first world war going on, I have had an interest in learning more about the “war to end all wars”. It was the war that defined the rest of the 20th century. The West changed profoundly in those 4 years. We certainly wouldn’t have had the second world war were it not for the devastation and societal changes wrought by the first war. There wouldn’t have been communist revolutions in Russia and China….
The Battle of the Somme was raging 100 years ago and wouldn’t end until November. In just the first day July 1, the British alone suffered almost 60,000 wounded and 20,000 dead.
Our own Hogday Afternoon had a wonderful write up on visiting that area. Like our own Civil War, armies still using old tactics came face to face with modern weapons that killed more efficiently. In the few intervening years of both wars, the tactics had to change dramatically.
There is a small series I have been watching on Netflix, Our World War. I recommend it. It is based on the actual stories of soldiers who were there. I learned about the “PALS” program, where young men would enlist together as friends and serve together. This was made necessary in 1916 because of the severe loses suffered by the British Army since 1914. Entire villiages lost en entire generation of young men. By the time the Somme came along, the British Army was manned by conscription and the PALS battalions.
There is an interesting 1919 aerial view of France’s devastation taken by an aviator flying a dirigible. Ironically this pilot would be killed by the Germans while working in the underground in the second world war.
We are still living under the changes that war wrought today.