100 years ago today the mass slaughter of the First War ended

Every family in the UK must have slept so much easier this night one hundred years ago. The terrors of warfare in an industrial age had been great. Life in the trenches was dreadful. It drove some men mad and left many more maimed for life. All too many never returned from their brief lives in battle. Most of those who died were too young to leave children. They left behind grieving parents, brothers and sisters. Today most of us are grandchildren and great grandchildren of the survivors. We are doubly grateful that their generation sacrificed their young lives to resist tyranny, and that our own relatives lived through the trials of war.

Most of the soldiers just accepted their duty, and did not think much in public about the justice or wisdom of it all. Now they have all died we can both remember their bravery and ask ourselves what have nations and statesmen learned from that bitter experience?

The war was about the imperial expansion of Germany. The superior forces of the allies once the USA entered the conflict finally forced an unconditional surrender on the Germans after nearly four years of stalemate on the western front. The power of artillery, the machine gun and barbed wire to defend positions was so much stronger than the ability of forces to attack and overwhelm. As a result much of the war in the West was fought over a few miles each way in Belgium. It led to work on even more fearsome weapons that allowed more mobile warfare with greater chances of success for attackers in the subsequent world conflict. By 1939 planes used for reconnaissance and modest bombing in 1014-18 became terror weapons, with new generations of tanks and faster moving military vehicles. The Second World War ended with the massive explosions of Atom bombs.

The failure of the peace after 1918 to settle the German question should give us pause for thought. A comprehensive victory won at such cost did not give rise to a lasting peace. Far from resolving German aggression and militarism it led to a more fanatical and more heavily armed Germany. We need to remember in future that winning the peace matters as much as winning the war. It entails settling the defeated country in a way which allows it to be stable and successful in future without reverting to invasion and threats to neighbours.

Why did 1945 work when 1918 did not? The allies succeeded in helping Germany and Japan establish working democracies. Clauses against militarism and against re-armament were placed in their constitutions. American power was there as a guarantor of their peace and as a guarantor of the general peace. The Treaty of 1919 left Germany with anger over reparations and a sense they had been exploited in defeat. This led to a dictatorship born of violence and adopted through a sense of grievance pushing Germans to assert new claims over European lands and peoples. After the Second World the allies learned more about how diplomacy and the post war settlement needed to be wiser and more effective than the 1918 one. As a  result  they helped create a peace loving democratic Germany (and Japan) that have not threatened others with force since 1945. The formation of NATO and an allied troop presence for many years in Germany established a new pattern of mutual security.

When I first read of the tragedy on the Somme I was angry that men were  led in such a way. The more I have read the more saddened I have been by the excessive slaughter, the failure to find tactics that could shorten the war and lessen the death rates, and the ultimate failure to resolve the underlying problems at the heart of the war.

There is much to remember, and much to learn from as we  reflect on a much needed peace in 1918. All too often men were sent over the top to repeat the mistakes of past battles, in the false hope that this time enough damage had been done to the enemy to warrant the risk of walking towards a hail of machine gun and rifle fire. All too often they repeated the same slaughter as the previous time frontal assault by foot soldiers was tried. Why didn’t they learn? Why weren’t they told to shelter or turn back when they realised that their bombardment had not paved the way for success? Could their commanders not see that the defending forces were still too strong for infantry advancing on machine guns? Why were the politicians and Generals well away from the danger so unable to think of new tactics and so careless of such a huge slaughter? Why could they not trust the junior officers to vary the orders as not only led the futile attacks, but were often the first to die?

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97 Comments

  1. Posted November 11, 2018 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Sadly, I dont think that Nations and Statesmen have learnt anything.

    This is all too sad for words. All we can do is to remember the sacrifice of those who served and suffered, and pray that it does not happen again.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      I fear you are correct; this taken from Wikepedia about the German Empire in the 1870’s.

      ‘Although nominally a federal empire and league of equals, in practice, the empire was dominated by the largest and most powerful state, Prussia.

      Sound familiar….

      Heaven help the world if they re-arm

      • Posted November 12, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        It’s shocking that 80 years later, Germany reunifies and Great Britain disintegrates.

        One of the reasons that this has happened is because they are allowed to say that “It wasn’t us. The Nazis did it.” whilst all the time there has been a Hollywood campaign against the English and a BBC silence about the valour of our boys. Sure. They’ll focus on the misery but not the valour.

        The recent film Dunkirk was so scared to glorify our boys that it became a load of meaningless, noise filled tripe and made our troops look quite nasty. And then the one show about British troops in Afghanistan ? Our Girl. Totally under representative of the faces we see in memorials.

        No wonder recruitment is in crisis.

      • Posted November 12, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        As someone once said “An army with a state attached”.

        Prussia had a complicated history-a large part of it’s population were Slavs,conquered -and Germanised -by the crusading Order of Teutonic Knights in the middle ages;then as their power faded,it became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at it’s peak(the Prussian court language was Polish until the early 18th century),before breaking free again.The Slavic origin was the reason why Stalin wanted it wiped off the map and returned to Slav hands after WWII.

        The other component of the early Prussian State,Brandenburg, also enjoyed a militaristic reputation-famous for it’s formidable mercenary force during the latter stages of the Thirty Years War.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      JR, you are correct. The mentality was stubborn stupidity. May is accused of the same with the whole of our nation and against a democratic vote to leave the EU. Trade was not the sole or central purpose.

      Printing Patel said: “The public saw that the Chequers proposal was not a ‘compromise’ or a negotiating position.

      “It was the public face of a ploy to keep the UK inside the EU by tying our hands to EU rules and maintaining the supremacy of European law in our country and the Cabinet all agreed to this.

      “And since then the Government is now begging with the EU to be allowed to stay inside its ‘customs union’ indefinitely.

      “This will mean that we have to apply the EU’s tariffs to imports, destroying Britain’s ability to trade openly and freely with the rest of the world. So we can forget Britain’s hopes of become a global leader in free trade.”

      Who could argue against this comment? May is a liar and completely untrustworthy.

    • Posted November 12, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      @ Cheshire Girl

      Do you mean states and politicians?

  2. Posted November 11, 2018 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    All very well but today we have in this country a government who refuse to give asylum to the Christian woman from Pakistan whose life is at risk.
    The same government who gave asylum to a suspect terrorists wanted by India.
    Giving your life for your country is a waste of time when we see todays society.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      JR writes: “We are…grateful that their generation sacrificed their young lives to resist tyranny”.

      Perhaps for “grateful” one should substitute the word, “humbled”, since gratitude implies that we have preserved, with vigilance, the cause for which they died.

      If, however, it is true that the UK has refused to offer asylum to Asia Bibi, what does that say about the state of our own government today?

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Did you see that 95 year old RAF war hero Bob Frost is now relying on JustGiving to raise funds to pay for his medical treatment after the NHS decided he was too old to qualify for funding?

      A land fit for heroes eh! Not under the LibLabCon it’s not!
      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6372901/RAF-hero-95-sell-home-pay-care-hes-survived-long.html

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, and particularly when compared to the asylum grant proposed for the extremely controversial ‘White Helmets’ who worked in exclusively Jihadi controlled areas. Did you see the reason given by our authorities for not granting her asylum- something about exacerbating tensiins and causing unrest…. Utterly shameful – what have we become?

      zorro

    • Posted November 12, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Define the UYK interest served by giving asylum in this case>

      • Posted November 12, 2018 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        Tut tut Rien,

        There is no ‘national interest’ clause when granting asylum in accordance with international treaties!!

        zorro

  3. Posted November 11, 2018 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Statistica dot com report BBC news viewership has dropped from 26m to 16m per week between 2012 and 2018. The same measure shows ITV reaching 50m per week.

    Why is people’s trust in the BBC falling so fast?

    Even if the shocking contraction slows down it will have halved in 10 years. The question is why has the number of BBC news staff not halved in 10 years ?

    Why is the “free” news from ITN three times more popular than the BBC news?

    It is time for the regulator to step in to deal with this problem before it becomes a crisis.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Well the BBC has an agenda of subservience to the anti-democratic EU, pro higher taxes, higher regulation, big government,the state knows best, pro the dire state monopoly NHS, pro “positive” discrimination (which is just discrimination), pro expensive energy and endless climate alarmism, pro a no deterrent criminal justice systempro open door immigration ….. essentially a (wrong on every single issue) LidDim agenda. A party that has now just twelve MPs. May seems determined to emulate the Libdims in this.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      javelin

      It’s because people now see the BBC for what it is ; politically biased, and anti-English in the extreme.

      The real question is why the hell are we still funding it ?

      • Posted November 12, 2018 at 7:34 am | Permalink

        Steve: “It’s because people now see the BBC for what it is ..”

        The BBC is MinTruth. That is the governments propaganda arm. The Tories have had ten years to reform the BBC, but they’ve done … nada, zilch, nothing.

        Because when it comes down to it, the government will use the BBC to attempt to sway public opinion, as it did with the EU referendum campaign.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      javelin

      Why is people’s trust in the BBC falling so fast?

      Because the way it is run and allowed to present its own political agenda.

      It has and is failing miserably especially on the news and current affairs programmes and the population are fed up with listening to their propaganda rantings.

      They need to clear out at least 50% of the staff and reinvent itself fit for the times we live in. Just like the generals and politicians a 100 years ago ignore the facts and keep the same plan going.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      @Javelin

      ” why has the number of BBC news staff not halved”

      Because the BBC still gets your Licence Fee even if you watch the commercially funded channels. Great isn’t it? They can’t lose.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      16m watch the BBC news and 16m voted Remain, coincidence? I don’t think so.

      • Posted November 12, 2018 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        “16m watch the BBC news and 16m voted Remain, coincidence? ”

        Lol.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      There have been increasingly more news outlets that are easily accessible. Also, speaking for myself, I have become increasingly wary of the objectivity of BBC output. For instance it is for ever pushing ‘politically correct’ nostrums most of which are (I think) wrong headed. It does still do good work though (Match of the Day, Keeping Faith, Living Planet, some documentaries).
      May they rest in peace.

  4. Posted November 11, 2018 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Indeed you ask:- Why were the politicians and Generals well away from the danger so unable to think of new tactics and so careless of such a huge slaughter?

    Why indeed, but this is nearly always what happens. A top down command economy led by people who do not have a clue about the realities at the coal face. Dopes like Blair with his counterproductive war on a lie and Cameron with Libya.
    Now we have Theresa May, who has never run any business, telling hugely diverse businesses what is best for them, tying them up with red tape, expensive greencrap energy mad employment laws, telling them what to pay, what pension to pay, how many houses to build, whom they employ and how they have to select them, what plastic they can not use and controlling prices and the likes. All to render them totally uncompetive in world markets, kill job, deter investment, destroy businesses and make us all poorer. Worse still give us Corbyn to follow her. And all this while bemoaning the low productivity that she, Hammond and government largely cause.

    At least we do not have to go to war with her as PM. Who on earth would ever volunteer to serve under such a duplicitous and incompetent socialist dope, especially after Blair and Cameron pointless and damaging wars. Clearly someone who under orders from the EU and her bureaucrats, is about to attempt an appalling sell the out to the EU. This must be prevented at all costs.

  5. Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    LEST WE FORGET

  6. Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    I suggest that one of the reasons the Germans at least switched to competing peacefully after WW2 was that the allies invaded and then occupied their country. Whereas in WW1 they were able to fight most of the war on the territory of their enemies, in WW2 they were taught a lesson which they still haven’t forgotten, though they still have the nerve to complain about it.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      They have also got away with blaming it on a mysterious tribe called the Nazis. My grandfather, RSM REME having fought in Dunkirk and Burma never mentioned the Nazis, only the Germans.

      • Posted November 12, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        Not all Germans were Nazis and not all Nazis were German. Nazi Germany had as allies next to Italy (and in a way, Japan): Finland, Romania, Hungary plus large areas now states like Slovakia and Ukraine. Large numbers of Belgians, Dutch and Norwegians served in German unicorns. Over 100K Jewish residents of The Netherlands were deported with indispensable assitance of the Dutch police. MOst of the Jews who perished in the Baltic states were killed locally by mobs of collaborated causing such a morale problem among ordinarey German servicemen that more discrete and rational solutions were found by dedicating an entire industrial process (on Polish soil) to destroying some 2.7 million humans. Just to say the Germans were not alone and there were Nazis everywhere, also in the UK and US. Forget the propaganda they fed us in primary school..

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      The main difference was that Churchill and others realised that the allies only achieved an armistice in WW1 and then failed to enforce the Treaty of Versailles and therefore WW2 ensued, so in 1945, there was 100% agreement that there must be unconditional surrender and no armistice. It is solely due that decision that war has not resumed.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Pity we haven’t learned our lesson and turned ourselves into the 2nd biggest arms dealers in the world with most of the weapons we make fuelling deadly conflicts in the Middle East.

      • Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

        margaret howard

        2nd biggest supplier of arms…. Surely only when the weather is warm and theres a world cup on ?

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      You’re right, David in Kent.
      It is galling the way both wars are usually spoken of as some kind of Acts of God – like hurricanes or earthquakes, inflicted unavoidably by nature. Even the Germans seem to excuse it like this in their museums.
      They were culpable – and if it had just been one world war, it might have been easier to get to grips with forgiving a Germany that had been led by the mad Kaiser et al. But they did it AGAIN twenty years later, and then democratically! (And even now portray the ‘National Socialists’ as some kind of alien race that descended upon their country and perpetrated all the atrocities.)

      They’ve obviously forgiven themselves, but I’m not so sure we should be too quick to forget their warmongering.

      • Posted November 11, 2018 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

        Unfair comments. 3 generations of German adults, parents, teachers etc have been exemplary in their recognition of the terrible history Germany has & in ensuring each generation learns it. Quite a contrast with the denial and fake history taught in some other countries to have perpetrated atrocities, such as Russia China and, reprehensibly since its a democracy, Japan.

        • Posted November 12, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

          Richard1. You are very right and as said in my other comments, the Germans were not alone in WWII and not the sole aggressor in WWI

      • Posted November 12, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        The Germans were culpable, of course they were but this does not excuse the juveline politics of some of the European allies who saw the need to screw them over this punitive reparations in the Treaty Of Versailles which then gave the Germans the notion of there being unfinished business.

        We see the same charactiristics in European politics today, “such and such mist pay”, “there has to be a cost”, etc

  7. Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Cressida Dick: ‘I absolutely refute the idea that we are losing a battle’

    Well perhaps she simply does not know what “refute” means. All the evidence is on the other side so where was her evidence to “refute” this overwhelming case? In my experience the police have totally given up on most crimes. This beyond giving a crime number and a victim of crime letter perhaps. The police have totally the wrong priories and she is surely the person in London who sets these priorities. Even wasting her and her hate crime “experts” time on Boris Johnson’s letter box comments! Their approach to getting reported crime figures down is to deter the reporting of it by making reporting it almost entirely pointless as they will do nothing anyway.

    • Posted November 12, 2018 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      She should stick to telling people to; “Take the bloody shot !”

  8. Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    This morning one really has to think about what to put. To try and put yourself in the minds of those that survived the horror of those four bloody years, is impossible. Every family, in every street, in every village, town and city, was touched by this. No one escaped. We really are the lucky ones.

    At 11am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month for one hundred years, we will remember them.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      “for one hundred years, we will remember them.”

      I want this to be extended.

      • Posted November 12, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        Remember the victims, do not celebrate the crime

  9. Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Theresa May’s Brexit plan is set to be blocked by Tory backbenchers says the Telegraph. Well Theresa certainly does not seem to think it will be.

    Let us hope they are right and that the sound one hundred or so Tory MPs do not cave in as they did under that other totally wrongheaded & pathetic PM John ERM Major, who buried the part for many terms.

  10. Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    A strong lesson to learn is that the UK did not need to join the Great War and would have been very considerably better off had it not done so.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

    • Posted November 12, 2018 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Very true, we should have stayed out of it and left it to evolve into one state like it is now then WW2 would not have happened.

  11. Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    It’s frequently misrepresented, but Germany has again risen as an expansionist hegemon dominating Europe, just with fewer guns this time.

    The mistakes of 1918, 45 and 91 were in leaving Germany whole, improper separation, and allowing reunification.

  12. Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Yes had family members in both World wars, fortunately all survived, although I can remember my Grandfather not wishing to talk much about it, save for showing a few photographs of his fellow comrades in arms once in a while (never on open display in the house).

    The difference between then and now, is that then the people trusted those in authority, Doctors, lawyers, politicians, accountants, Bank managers, policemen, even local business owners, as well as their commanding officers.

    Now with information at hand from many sources, too many of the above have been found to be untrustworthy, unreliable, incompetant, and rather selfish, seeking to promote their own agenda at others expense.
    Thus they are often challenged on their views and actions.

    24 hour news (some of it fake news) has also taken its toll, where before the radio was a source of creditable information.

    We now live in a fast moving World where even what happened yesterday is forgotten, so it is good to sometimes sit back and remember.

    Certainly once a year it is good to reflect upon past times, and how past events have shaped our Nation.

  13. Posted November 11, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    The situation reversed. We lost the war in 1945, N. Ireland , Wales and Scotland becoming parts of France, Iceland and Germany.
    We would would be happy wouldn’t we. We could vote for Parliament’s MPs just so we didn’t have an army that did much except see to casualties of flooding and helpling out painting old folks bungalows. Ya Ya.Wunderbar!
    No need to watch Germany is there.

  14. Posted November 11, 2018 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    The best thing British troops could have done was turn their guns on their officers and shot every single one, especially the generals, then sailed back to England and done the same in Westminster. That would have ended the slaughter, prevented WW2 and stopped every subsequent generation of politicians starting another war. They would have been heroes instead of victims.

    • Posted November 12, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      At that stage the Germans would have driven to Paris again and caused a collapse of one of the few Republics then present in Europe. But Germany would not have gone for more territory. It had conquered biligual parts of France in the Franco Prussian War and as is well known about Germany’s foreign policy doctrine, unlike the Austro-Hungarian Empire, they did not want non-German speaking territories in Western Europe. I guess Germany would have occupied a fair slice of Russia/Poland and not found in necessary to unleash Lenin. An interesting counterfactual..

  15. Posted November 11, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    The allies succeeded in helping Germany and Japan establish working democracies.” ….after WW2
    Yes we did so much for the Germans, poured in so much money to stop starvation and establish a new state…. While our own country was suffering greatly. We gained nothing from WW2 except our freedom, but we lost the colonies, as well as our place in the world.
    Germany went on to build a powerful industrial state, while we persevered with old equipment in our factories, much of it looted from German ones… but for whatever reason, the Germans were able to improve and surpass our industrial capability, while we were lumbered with a huge debt we owed to the USA.
    The Irony is that Germany did much better from the end of WW2 than we did, and never even paid back the compensation we were due. We should celebrate the bravery of our soldiers, and regret the lost lives, but the lesson here is that the ‘good guys’ often do not come out on top.
    Would the world be a better place now if WW1 and 2 had not happened?

    • Posted November 12, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      WWI was an avoidable civil war in Europe, occurring when the monarchical system that had maintained peace within the system of Westfalian states had become obsolete (trade unions, socialism, much wider voting franchise). It is harder to contain nationalism in a democracy than a rational authoritarian system (where nationalism is a tool, not a faith), especially if the lectorate lacks goos information and is indufficiently educated. The old guard in most countries basically gave up and instead of a process of democratisation there was incipient anarchy.

      • Posted November 12, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        You certainly have an active imagination there Rien – A peculiar one at that…

        Like many in love with the EU – I call it the startrek dreamworld mentality – you try and rewrite history… Study the old BBC documentaries to see what really happened.

      • Posted November 12, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        It wasn’t that peaceful!-Great Northern War,War of Austrian Succession,War of Spanish Succession,War of Polish Succession,Seven Years War,Revolutionary & Napoleonic Wars,etc.It was the Concert of Europe and particularly the Holy Alliance(between the three central/eastern Empires) that kept the peace for most of the 1815-1914 period.

  16. Posted November 11, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    The failure of command in WW1 is an example of stubborn refusal by a group of powerfully placed experts (the generals) to recognise that the evidence was telling them that their theory was wrong. Groupthink amongst them meant few if any felt able to challenge the orthodoxy, and anyone else doing so was denigrated as a traitor or a pacifist. I fear we often see the equivalent of this today, although fortunately not with such terrible consequences.

    Lloyd George as PM was highly critical at the time, and certainly later, of Haig. If so why didn’t he fire him? LG was an effective minister of munitions but his leadership fell far short of Churchill’s in WW2.

  17. Posted November 11, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    The two great wars serve to emphasise the danger of political centralisation in a country. The State is the source of our safety and of our imprisonment. Today, we have leaders that are deliberately constructing a political state that seeks to betray all the values and freedoms that millions laid down their lives to protect and preserve

    We are once again living in dangerous times with a leader imbued with authoritarian instincts and a contempt for democracy and an opposition only to willing to extend that sinister form of politics.

    The British people (the silent majority who’s never heard) are under attack from the enemy within and the enemy without

    Our brave forces did their best and are still doing their best. Brave, moral people to which we owe a huge debt

    We now have to tolerate the sight of a German leader holding hands with an autocrat who in March 2014 annexed part of Europe for himself. Putin grabbed Crimea using military forces and Merkel (de facto leader of the EU) now allies herself with him against the leader of the free world, the US President Trump.

    I just hope the British people do not underestimate the contempt and hate British politicians have for our values and our freedoms and they are able to see that danger before it’s too late

    RIP brave forces

  18. Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I doubt they slept easier. Their nightmare had come true. The first armistice was not silence but uncontrollable sobbing.

    The sheer effort, sacrifice and resource of raising a single well mannered, educated and dutiful son. Mothers and fathers lost whole families of them. The country – as Peter Hitchens said today – did not lose 700,000 soldiers but 700,000 teachers, poets, engineers, inventors…

    They would loathe the Britain of today. Its crime, slovenliness, ignorance, excess and disrespect.

    Not even can men have their day under a setting sun on their own too. This was almost exclusively male carnage in the front lines. This year has been the worst for the feminist “women died too !” but why, at my local station, is the silhouetted trooper joined by a suffragette and not a field nurse ? Yes. That’s right. The women who bullied young boys into death and mutilation by handing them white feathers.

    We have given way to tyranny… and Teutonic rule.

  19. Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Very well put. Thank you . I note Mrs May at last nights Remembrance Service looked ashen – I hope she reads your last paragraph, and hands over soon to someone more able to take a new approach, and to win a ‘lasting’ peace.

  20. Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    The law should be changed to disallow young impressionable people from joining the army. Age 40 should be the minimum age for all ranks to join up- and especially for infantry and front line fighting, then we might see some common sense coming into all of this. Oh yes, and Generals and Field Commanders should by regulation post themselves to the front line in every operation so they can have a good view at what is going on.

  21. Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    ps..They could bring a selection of interested politicians with them

  22. Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    My grandmother lost her first husband when the armoured cruiser HMS Aboukir (one of the Live Bait Squadron, the others were HMS Cressy and HMS Hogue) were torpedoed by the German submarine U-9 early in the morning on 22nd September 1914. Her second husband lost his eldest son, a 16 year old bugler boy, on the same ship. The other two were also torpedoed as they attempted to pick up sailors in the water. Both men are commemorated at the Chatham Naval War Memorial on the Great Lines, over looking the Medway Towns.

    My late wife’s family lost her great uncle on the 19th September 1916 whilst he was serving with the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on the Somme, killed in action. We still remember them.

    The families never got over their loss. My grandmother was of the view that the Kaiser should have been hung after the war. Haig and Rawlinson should both have been shot for what they did to Kitchener’s New Armies on the Somme.

  23. Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    It is ironic that the Prime Minister is in France dressed immaculately in black, sombrely standing before war memorials and graves, paying homage to our brave soldiers when her Government is still sending lawyers to pursue veterans of the Iraq and Northern Ireland campaigns.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      Nigel, Yes, she is an utter disgrace in more ways than one.

      Germany is managing to take control of Europe without firing a shot. Our politicians are letting them. We will regret it.

  24. Posted November 11, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    “We need to remember in future that winning the peace matters as much as winning the war”. T
    That is very well said, Sir.

  25. Posted November 11, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    “We need to remember in future that winning the peace matters as much as winning the war”. T
    Sir, that is very well said.

  26. Posted November 11, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    The lack of care and respect for the lives of our soldiers by senior officers and politicians alike throughout the First World War was shameful. If anyone should have been prosecuted for war crimes, they should have been prime candidates.

    Watching the BBC coverage of remembrance day this morning. I was deeply angered to hear that in the five hours between the signing of the armistice and the formal cessation of hostilities, some British Officers ordered fresh attacks to take place.

    How many lives were lost on both sides through these acts of folly in those final hours is probably not known but it is a further example, if any were needed, that, despite four years of fighting in the most appalling conditions, some senior officers had learned absolutely nothing.

    Our soldiers deserved so much more.

  27. Posted November 11, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    The First World War was primarily a failure of politics.

    Across the world a group of second-rate politicians unable to stand up to the nationalistic drumbeaters who pushed us into a completely pointless war.

    Lest us forget, Mr Trump.

    Lest us forget, Mr Farage.

    Lest us forget, Mr Wilders.

    Lest us forget, Ms Le Penn.

    Lest us forget, Mr Orban.

    Lest us forget, Mr Salvini.

    Most of the people who contribute to this blog are in their late 60s or older. Your parents generation fought and died so you and your children would not have to. You have forgotten the lessons.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Completely pointless wars?

      You left out the globalists Blair & his illegal Middle East escapades, Bush & the common purpose drone Cameron who bombed Libya.

      In contrast none of those patriots have started any Wars.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Andy

      NOPE

      We have very much remembered the lessons of European empire building and that is PRECISELY why we aren’t going to let it happen again

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Andy, I often disagree with your posts but on this occasion I feel deeply offended.

      I am 66 and our generation, together with the few parents we have left, have never forgotten the history of what happened in the run up to 1914 and 1939. In fact few of those who are younger than us were ever taught about the Europe of the early 1900s.

      You are mistaken if you think our support for Brexit is a sign that we don’t understand European history. In fact it is the very opposite.

      Since 1989 and reunification we have witnessed the steady rise of Germany which, through the EU, has come to dominate Europe once again. Not militarily, of course, but economically. German economic domination has accelerated since the Euro was launched.

      Without the self-balancing effect of exchange rates, the German economy will only get stronger as those of other European states such as France and Italy will continue to deteriorate.

      Germany now totally dominates the EU and it looks very likely that at least two of the four most senior positions in Brussels will be occupied by Germans from 2019.

      In the medium term, and until the Euro collapses, that political and economic domination will become a threat to the stability of Europe. The young in those economically less successful member states will only tolerate such high rates of unemployment for so long.

      Many of our generation believe that the United Kingdom will be best served by being on the outside of the EU at this juncture, even though Brexit might have a modestly adverse effect on our economic growth.

      That would be as nothing compared with the position we would have been in had those politicians, business leaders and civil servants had had there way and pushed us into the Euro.

      We all know who they are : they are now the most verciferous Remainers in the land. They were wrong about the Euro and they will be proved to be wrong about Brexit.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      Andy, let’s not forget our freedom. I don;t know where you are coming from. Germany is busy empire building again meddling where they are not wanted. We want our freedom and this is what our ancestors fought for. Let’s not forget them.

    • Posted November 12, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Andy.

      Did you bother to go to a Remembrance service ? I note your post is at 10.51. A bit cheap of you to paraphrase the exhortation “Lest we forget” if you didn’t. Either that our you’re texting during a sermon. Bad boy !

      Let us forget (please !) war monger and “I’m going to stop Brexit.” Remainer Tony Blair.

      Let us forget “I’m going to open up Libya to IS with a disastrous war.” Remainer David Cameron.

      Let us forget the purveyors of fake news who told us that Tump would lead us to war by his first Christmas. His mid term results show him to be more popular than O’Bama and headed for a second term in office.

      You have credibility issues, Andy. We’d be in the euro if we’d followed your advice. That we should have gone into it turned out to be fake news too. I do hope your Mum’s bringing you down a soothing cup of chamomile, though I expect she’s decent enough to put on Sunday best and a poppy, outdoors and in song.

  28. Posted November 11, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    ‘Every family must have slept much easier this night 100 years ago’ : Every family that is apart from the 700,000+ who lost loved ones.

  29. Posted November 11, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Sure but, who won – the useless and heartless stupid British generals or the implicitly superior German generals?
    Dr Redwood, war is difficult. People did their best. You should remember there is a world of difference between devising new tactics and strategies for a standing army of well trained and exercised soldiers and a bunch of untrained volunteers and conscripts who have barely learned the basics. the British started with a mere 100,000 professionally trained men against millions. By the end of 1914 they had suffered 90% casualties. So you think that with a mere 10,000 professionals you can built an army, during a war the like of which had never been seen before, and pass muster in the court of hindsight of civilians?
    What you should be asking is why politicians to day, who have no experience of the military themselves, whose family and friends likewise have no military experience, and whose family and friends have no stake in a future conflict so wilfully send off the military into ill-conceived conflicts. No war ever starts without prior failure by politicians. That is where responsibility for the slaughter of 1914-18 lies and where it still lies to this day. Blair is a prime example and you-do-the-fighting-I’ll-do-the-talking willy waving at Putin Cameron is not far behind.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      PS I suggest, Dr Redwood, you read Hew Strachan’s book, The Direction of War, to understand the woeful inabilities of today’s politicians.

  30. Posted November 11, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Even on this most solemn of days the BBC is using questions directed to a senior British military commander (COTDS) to stoke fear about Brexit

    How long do we have to tolerate this abuse? I care not one jot what the BBC says or does but do not do it at my expense.

    Brexit isn’t the worry, it’s a Marxist Labour government that’s the real existential threat to the UK

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      Duncan

      “Brexit isn’t the worry, it’s a Marxist Labour government that’s the real existential threat to the UK”

      Well at the moment we appear to have a marxist conservative one.

  31. Posted November 11, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I have just watched in utter disgust the scenes from the cenotaph. May,Corbyn,Major,Blair and other architects of the demise of the UK all apparently unaware they are making a mockery of the ultimate sacrifice of the people we remember today. Hipocracy beyond measure!

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      Mark Nottingham

      Yes the hypocrisy is staggering isn’t it.

      Of May and Blair; considering what the pair have done to trash this country as a free and sovereign nation, I’m quite disgusted that they should have the audacity to show their faces.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

      That thought came unbidden to my mind too.

  32. Posted November 11, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Was thinking- doesn’t President Macron looks very like the young Napoleon as depicted in various paintings drawings etc?

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Never mind the paintings, he probably thinks he is Napoleon.

  33. Posted November 11, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Two thoughts sparked by your piece. First, the concentrated geographic nature of the conflict on the Western Front, to which all else was a side show: when re-reading Douglas Haig’s War Diaries recently, I used my Michelin road atlas to see where things were happening, and it virtually all took place on a single double page spread; it was not often that one had to turn over a page. Secondly, in the First World War there still seemed to be quite a spirit of ‘Play up, play up and play the game’ and an ethos of Glory linked with death. I think this had diminished markedly in the Second World War, and though there might have been a bit of an uptick over the Falklands conflict, the recent wars in the gulf and Afghanistan have brought a much more sober and sensible view of the futility of war, unless one’s own freedom is threatened.

  34. Posted November 11, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    If everybody is so peace loving these days, from where does the idea of a European Army come from? M Macron is a keen advocate but I do not think that the German Chancellor is too far behind.

  35. Posted November 11, 2018 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Our Remembrance service was ever so inclusive. Refugees, the dispossessed, those in conflict in other nations…

    Can’t we just spare two minutes for our own fallen ?

    100 years ago our nation could have chosen any emblem to represent Remembrance. Crossed rifles, the Union flag, a machine gun… instead it chose a flower. A simple poppy.

    Flower power predated the soppy sixties generation.

    Now activists want to denigrate the poppy by hijacking it. They want a white poppy or a purple poppy… please choose your own emblem. If the population who suffered wanted white poppies and purple poppies they would have had them.

  36. Posted November 11, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Yet 100 years later

    WE ARE STILL A NATION OF LIONS LED BY DONKEYS

    Its time to change

  37. Posted November 11, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I listened.”The poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy reads her poem The Wound in Time, written for the Armistice anniversary and broadcast for the first time on BBC Radio 4.” BBC
    There’s no money in poetry is there. Not since Kipling.

  38. Posted November 11, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” (Otto von Bismarck)
    Regretfully, far too many of our leaders, both political and military prefer to learn from their own mistakes.

  39. Posted November 11, 2018 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Germany was facing defeat prior to the USA entering the war. The German High command knew that unrestricted submarine warfare would make American entry inevitable but it was their only hope of knocking Britain out of the war at that stage. In fact the whole point of the Schlieffen Plan in 1914, which involved the violation of Belgium’s neutrality was designed to secure a quick victory over France aka 1870-71, before large scale British involvement could be brought to bear. They were well aware that in a protracted war the Allies were superior in terms of economic power plus British naval superiority could cut Germany off from her territories and foreign resources while allowing the Allies full access to theirs.
    Following the armistice a vengeful French government imposed the Versailles Treaty humiliating Germany rather than bringing her into the democratic brotherhood of nations the way the Marshall plan did after WW2.
    Because Germany wasn’t occupied it allowed the stab in the back theory to be propergated by Field Marshall Ludendorff and the fledgling NAZI party; they wouldn’t accept that Germany was losing and at starvation point, and found in Communists and Jews a convenient scapegoat.
    Towards the end of the war after horrific losses our generals were also wising up and using new infantry tactics as well as the creeping barrage to limit casualties. WW1 was a new kind of war entirely and history shows as with WW2 we seem slow to learn new lessons and tactics until a very high price has been paid.
    I spent my remembrance at my local church teaching my young children what’s it’s all about and telling them tales passed down to me about my nan’s Dad who served the entire conflict as a seargent major having lied about his age to join the Boer war at 16 and my grandad who had 7 uncles serving several of who didn’t return. Lest we forget.

  40. Posted November 11, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    If anyone is trying to explain to the snowflake generation what this is all about, I suggest this:

    9/11 saw just under 3,000 deaths.

    WW1 was like FOUR 9/11’s, EVERY DAY for FOUR YEARS.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      9/11 saw just under 3,000 deaths.

      ……..
      380 died approx

  41. Posted November 11, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad our host has ignored the “memo” to blame Russia for the start of WWI-I’ve noticed a propagandist narrative emerging recently re-writing history to this effect-General Sir Nick Carter a few months ago ,Dominic Sandbrook in the Mail yesterday to name but two labouring to draw parallels with the present day.Russia wanted peace to further the rapid industrialisation that was underway at the time.

    It was the Germanic powers to blame-Austria-Hungary for upsetting the balance of power in the Balkans with the unilateral annexation of Bosnia-Hercegovina,Germany for giving A-H the “blank cheque” and A-H for issuing an ultimatum that Serbia could not comply with and remain a sovereign state.

  42. Posted November 11, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    ”Why didn’t they learn?” They WERE learning, all the time, but they simply could NOT learn any more quickly. We’re too quick to judge these days with the wisdom of hindsight. But these were not ”donkeys leading lions” although anti war literature in the 60s certainly did its best to denigrate people who were simply doing their best, at the top of the heap as well as at the bottom.
    After all, how many generals were killed or wounded in the First World War?

  43. Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I remember sitting in my lounge in front of the fire on the rug watching the parades of the teams representing those who served and the waiting for the moment all the poppies fell from the ceiling , but mum said that she couldn’t watch as it was all too horrible. What is written hath been writ and the moving finger writes on and us in the time of it. We must make our own grooves for others to follow.

  44. Posted November 11, 2018 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    WWI – a war in which ‘Lions were led by Donkeys’. And the Donkeys in those desperately sad and sickening years were the military hierarchy.
    Today, I still believe our military is led by Donkeys but this new breed of Donkeys are controlled by Downing Street and NOT by the Military hierarchy.
    This new breed of political Donkeys will not allow the highly trained military to conduct its affairs as only the Military know how. Sadly, exactly the same applies to our Police Forces and ALL of our security Forces. They too are subjected to naive Political interference.

    Why is there no dictate laid down to establish that, at anytime there is a reason to call upon those specialists, trained to do the job at hand, can carry out their duties as THEY see them on the front line?
    Too many times since the last World War have our military and our home security forces been held back because of political interference.
    A bloody War is ultimately dirtier than wretched politics BUT! like say, even in politics, it is best left to the real professionals to solve the problem.
    Armed confrontations MUST be left in the hands of those especially trained for such a horror and to those dedicated to their job.
    The result? A very much quicker solution because as soon as Politics gets involved in the way of ANY SOLUTION, the solution STALLS….And stalls and stalls.

    LOL Just look at the “Brexit” shambles. British Lions led by these Political Donkeys, again!!
    When are we going to produce a Proper Leader again?

  45. Posted November 11, 2018 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    There were alot of wannabee re-shakespeares writing today, confident that the reason the typical Board was appreciated in the 1600s is because everyone had learned about iambic pentameters on the internet, as they had to 400 years later.
    I can read Shakespeare just like a book. And, I’m pretty.

  46. Posted November 12, 2018 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    Part of the reason why the 1945 peace held when the 1918 peace did not, was because by 1945 many German cities were reduced to rubble. It was irrefutable that Germany had lost the war. By contrast after 1918 there was a popular German myth of the “stab in the back” (Dolchstoßlegende), that Germany had not lost WW1 militarily but was stabbed in the back ie betrayed by the civilians and the Republicans who overthrew the German monarchy. The German government leaders, who signed the Armistice in November 1918, were denounced as the “November Criminals”. This became a key part of Nazi ideology.

    By contrast, in World War 2 with German cities bombed to rubble, nobody could argue that Germany had not lost and that German nationalism and militarism had caused the catastrophe. That (together with other things eg a wiser post war settlement) ensured that Germany would not attempt the same disastrous policies again. Thank you Sir Arthur “bomber” Harris.

    • Posted November 12, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      “Thank you Sir Arthur “bomber” Harris.”

      He practised his craft years before when he expressed the idea of forcing the rebellious Iraqis to surrender to the Empire:

      After a bombing raid in 1924, Harris noted:

      “Arabs and Kurds have begun to believe that if they could tolerate a bit of noise,
      they could also bear being bombarded and still be able to negotiate.
      They now know what real bombardment means in terms of losses and
      devastation.

      They now know that within 45 minutes a whole village can
      be eliminated and a third of its inhabitants killed or maimed by four
      or five airplanes which don’t present a real target to shoot at and
      which don’t give them a chance to fight like brave warriors or take
      flight.”

      Later, after realizing that the inhabitants often were
      running away when a British plane approached, he used time fuse
      bombs which killed the fugitives after their return to their houses.

      Brave man indeed.

  47. Posted November 12, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    “The war was about the imperial expansion of Germany.”

    I could agree with much of what you say about the outcomes of WWI, but this was not a unicausal event. There were many occasions, prior to the assassination of the Archduke and before Russian mobilisation that, eg the Austrians could have done to let the steam out, or the French for that matter. Once Russian mobilization was underway, the process could not be stoppedexcepot by France not honoring its treaty commitments . An unfortunate accident of history, aggravated by many domestic processes (eg the instability of the French republic, German conquest in the previous Franco-Prussian war, obsolete regime in Russia, etc.) There is good evidence that within the power structures of Germany and the Double Monarchy, there were those who agitated for war, saw a German/Russian war as ultimately unavoidable and Austrians who thought the regime of their empire (and probably both) would collapse anyway. The Germans were prepared for war but not for a war against almost everyone else and they never would have started one because such an effort lacked achievable objectives a priori. The heirs of Bismarck, despite a very weak system of government were basically engineers, not ideologues. Realpolitiker.

    If France had not declared war, Germany would not have attacked her and dealt with Russia very quickly or even deterred her going to war over the Austrian aggression against Serbia. If the UK has stayed neutral, there would not have been a war at all (or at last it would not have become such an all consuming event. And maybe the UK would have had a better chance to maintain the beneficial parts of Empire. After all, the British Empire looks like having been more of a civilizing system that its successor, the Pax Americana, etc ed

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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