So many young lives wasted.
Finally it was over. And the leaders started to prepare for a peace treaty which would sow the seeds of discontent, leading ultimately to another war twenty years hence. In the meantime families were counting the cost…..
In the last four years I have commemorated all the men within my extended family who died and I felt it would now be good to think about the numbers. At the local war memorial on Sunday the minister told the story of a family of six brothers: after five had died, the local vicar wrote to the Queen and the sixth son was found and returned to his family.
I cannot claim six brothers serving at once but I did write about the four Pridmore brothers who died, and the three Hills boys who died in consecutive years.
Then there were the two Blaydon brothers and their cousin. Two pairs of Culpin brothers, the Free brothers from Australia and the Glew brothers. And the Steward boys who died within three months of each other, and the Mendhams within three weeks of one another. Not to mention the Stadens, uncle & nephew, from Bury St Edmunds.
In all I recorded sixty-eight deaths; the oldest being 40 years old and the youngest aged just 17 years. Five died on the first day of the Somme; nine in all commemorated on the Thiepval memorial. Eight on the Menin Gate. Thirty in total have no known grave. Young George Culpin, the 17-year-old, drowned at Jutland.
It was called "The war to end all wars". History proves otherwise. Lions led by donkeys? I struggle to see past the lives thrown away because their leaders wanted them to march in an orderly fashion, line abreast, into barbed wire and machine guns.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.