Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"It's Tommy this and Tommy that and kick im out the brute - But it's saviour of his country when the guns begin to shoot" (Kipling)

"Now every April I sit on my porch And I watch the parade pass before me
I see my old comrades, how proudly they march Renewing their dreams of past glories
I see the old men all tired, stiff and worn Those weary old heroes of a forgotten war
And the young people ask "What are they marching for?" and I ask myself the same question"

(Anti War Song - The Band played Waltzing Matilda – Eric Bogle)

The older I get the more disenchanted I become with Remembrance Sunday and the military circus which has overtaken it. This Sunday we will see pictures of thousands of ex Service men and women marching to military bands, they will march past dignitaries festooned with medals, gongs, fierce looking toy swords and uniforms which owe more to Ruritanian farce than anything resembling the truth, they will salute these people many of whom have never heard a real gun go off. Most prominent among them of course will be our absurd Royal Family dressed up like a Gilbert and Sullivan chorus line and just about as useful in a fight. I always feel obliged to say at some point when discussing such matters that I am not a pacifist I believe that it is sometimes necessary to fight wars as in WW2 which was a "good war" if you will, it was good guy against bad guy and quite straight forward, so straight forward in fact that recent adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer greatly by comparison.

I have tried over the years with increasing lack of success to try to consider Remembrance Day without my mind going through the utter stupidity and waste of what it reminds us of, the slaughter, the mind boggling number of dead and injured, the lost generation and the other lost generation who were their friends and loved ones whose lives were also shattered. Most of all I think of the Politicians and the Generals, the officer class, mostly pampered clowns to whom the Army was a second choice because they were too stupid for the city. Consider the following; I can't find the words to express or make clear my feelings about it. Both sides in the trenches were aware that hostilities were to cease from early in the morning of the 11Th. and some of these officers still insisted on sending men out to fight and depart this life right up to 11 A.M. the scheduled time for cease fire. It is a matter of record that men were dying right up to 11 A.M. because they were ordered to continue, despite knowing for several hours that the war was effectively over. As I say I can't find the words to describe those responsible for such folly, let's just say it makes me rather angry but: at least those responsible got medals so that' O.K. then right? We even have statues to some of them for God's sake. Remembrance Sunday stopped being about the war dead a long time ago and is now a jingoistic military circus which glorifies war and is more to do with supporting present wars than remembering previous ones.

More than anything else the so called "Great War" should be remembered first and foremost by all countries involved as a matter of shame, utter burning shame that millions died because people could not come to an agreement, shame that Politicians and the rulers of societies around the world allowed this to happen. I do not wear a poppy and have no intention of doing so for two main reasons, the first I have talked about above and the second is because of the huge betrayal of the whole notion of the day and what it has become in terms of raising money through charity for families and wounded servicemen and women. Those who made sacrifices and paid the price of war, we eulogize them and tell them they are heroes and they will never be forgotten so; why do we make them rely on charity? Why is it that the biggest group of people with parallel backgrounds in our prisons today are ex servicemen and women? Approx. 10,000. Who knows how many are homeless; addicted to drink or drugs or locked away in mental institutions; how many live lives of quiet desperation in a single accommodation surviving on benefits and emotionally crippled: how many have simply been abandoned because they were unable to cope after life in the services? Someone is not telling the truth about this whole business.

This Remembrance Sunday takes place against a chorus of accusations of murder and torture against our forces. Our Ally; the Cretin Bush; has admitted that torture was used against civilians, he reckons that's O.K. The young man from next door who waved goodbye to you as he left resplendent in his uniform could 'God forbid' be one of those who went on to commit torture or murder, that is the reality of war! that's what it does to people. We need to tell that truth, why did German soldiers make suicide pacts with each other in the nightmarish French trenches rather than be captured by Scottish Regiments? A sobering thought and no mistake but; that is war. A great many of our servicemen and women did not join the forces to kill people, many were bored and wanted to travel, some were unemployed and some fancied learning to Ski, scuba dive or parachute from a plane.

We owe it to them and the others who are thinking about stepping into harm's way to at least tell them the truth about the whole sordid business. I have no wish to stop remembering the war dead they have my respect no matter the side but I think we should try to restore some dignity to the whole business and start giving our servicemen and women a proper fair deal; telling them how wonderful they are and then cutting them adrift is simply not good enough, this is what happened to the wounded from the Great War and 92 years later it is still going on we as a nation should be ashamed of that.


David Duff said...

'Same old, same old', Councillor. Too much nonsense piled upon nonsense for me to deal with it all but allow me to take up one point.

Prior to August 1914 the Liberal government of the day was desperate not to go to war. Apart from any pacific reasons, it knew that its own party would not support it. That was why the vote and the declaration of war was only possible after it was clear that Germany, and Germany alone, had violated Belgian neutrality - and we, along with others, including Germany, had given our national word of honour to defend Belgium's independence. Indeed, the Liberal government warned the French not to place one soldier's boot inside Belgium until it was absolutely clear that the Germans had acted first.

Now, in light of that historical fact, would you care to reconsider your remarks to the effect that:

"More than anything else the so called "Great War" should be remembered first and foremost by all countries involved as a matter of shame, utter burning shame that millions died because people could not come to an agreement, shame that Politicians and the rulers of societies around the world allowed this to happen.?

For example, you could add:

'This does not include the British government - nor the French, come to that'.

By the way, I know you had a sudden failure of nerve and thus refused to publish one of my earlier comments, but come along, Councillor, you're supposed to be from the Land of the Brave!

David Duff said...

And one other canard you have attempted to foist on us.

The allies kept pressing against a crumbling German line precisely because it was crumbling and it was essential not to give them a breathing space. The German army was never party to the German civilian requests for an armistice - NOTE: not a surrender but an armistice which, of course can always be rescinded.

"Despite some episodes of conflict, by the end of the first week of November, British forces were having difficulty in bringing the adverseries to battle. And on 11 November, with the Meuse still distant, the fighting simply terminated. If the Germans even now possessed a consecutive front line, behind it their armed forces were disintegrating."

The Myriad Faces of War by Trevor Wilson

It was the unrelenting pressure on their armies which brought about the German collapse and in Wilson's words "So virtually on any terms they could get, the military leaders of Germany opted to lay down their arms."

Presumably if Field Marshal Kelly had been in command the allies would have stopped and given the Germans all the time they needed to re-organise. Brilliant, Sir, absolutely brilliant!

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

By David Duff on "It's Tommy this and Tommy that and kick im out th... on 11/11/10

You are every bit as delusional as the half wits who posed as generals and officers throughout this whole bloody unnecessary farce. Millions died because pompous chauvinistic politicians and cod patriots refused to come to an agreement some died because idiots were their officers: that is a fact and a cause of shame not celebration. You sound as if you could have been one of those guilty ones.

And you have not addressed my points about the treatment of service personnel or the lies that get them to join the forces, you haven't mentioned the officers sending men to their death minutes before a cease fire which everyone knew was coming have you, no wonder some men shot their own officers.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

You can lie to yourself as much as you want that’s a typical militaristic trait but you can’t alter the fact that politicians from Britain, Germany, France etc. allowed millions to be slaughtered because they refused to come to an agreement and the fact is some of the military types wanted war they were desperate to show how great they were, all from the privileged classes as well.

It is a sobering thought and a very uncomfortable one for warmongers like you that the musical “Oh What A lovely War” and the comedy “Blackadder” when set in the first world war trenches don’t have to try very hard to find farce and incompetence on a grand scale it’s all there on the record. People like you are becoming more and more figures of fun and ridicule.

It’s very typical of you to accuse me of not printing your post. We know this is an accusation that I am unable to deny so people will have to take your word for it. I’m O.K. with that.

David Duff said...

I realise you have an aversion to facts which contradict your lovingly-held bigotry, so let me change my approach and ask you two questions:

1: If you had been PM and the Germans invaded Belgium, a nation whose integrity was safeguarded in a treaty signed by us, what would you have done? Bearing in mind, of course, that absolutely everything indicated that the Germans were intent on conquering France and nothing was going to stop them.

2: If having fought a war for four years the enemy at last showed signs of weakness and began to fall back (but not as far as their own frontiers) would you have stood still or pressed home your advantage?

And please, Councillor, no more bluff and bluster, just try to answer the questions clearly. There is a respectable case to be made for pacifism, if that is what you believe, so just make it in plain language.

Finally, in an earlier comments thread I sent in a comment which was not published, and I followed this with another wondering why and that was not published either. I admit that I was surprised because you do not usually duck the 'incoming'. Perhaps it was a computer glitch but as I cannot prove it I will withdraw my accusation of cowardice.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

By David Duff on "It's Tommy this and Tommy that and kick im out th... at 10:04

A rather superfluous analysis and disingenuous to say the least. The war did not just kick off in July 19 14 by that time it was too late to stop it because warmongering politicians and nationalist clowns all over Europe including Britain were spoiling for a war and had been building up to it for years: that was where the avoidable causes of the war came from.

Germany invading Belgium was the kick off the teams had been limbering up for some time and had it not been that invasion another reason would have been found. What happened then and at the 4 year point you refer to is neither here nor there as far as the necessity of conflict was concerned. It was not necessary and it will always be first and foremost a matter of shame, one which you can clearly justify and I cannot.

David Duff said...

Well, at least you managed to avoid the worst of your histrionic style, so let us take this in more detail.

From 1906 onwards there were several German-inspired events which nearly triggered war but it was avoided mostly because of the intervention of GB by the very same politicians you accuse of stupidity and war-mongering!

I repeat, and you are free to attempt to deny it provided you can come up with evidence, that the Liberal government in 1914 would not have gone to war but for the invasion of Belgium. As it was, four ministers resigned!

I would add a further point for you to mull over. Some critics of Grey's foreign policy complained that if he had been more up front in pledging total, unequivocal British support for France earlier in the crisis, or what you would no doubt call 'warmongering', it might, just, have given the Germans pause for thought. It was Grey who was determined to give GB every chance to wriggle out if there was a way out - and you deride him as war mongerer!

I doubt that such considerations will have much effect on your thinking, Councillor, but here is another scenario for you to ponder. Suppose we had stayed out and the Germans, in implementing their Schlieffen plan which, I would remind you, had been worked out in minute detail over the previous 8 years, had succeeded in conquering France and gaining the French Atlantic and Mediterranean ports. What effect would that have had on GB? (Now don't just bluster - think about it. The Germans would have had a free run of the shipping , not least because were they to be blocked we would have starved.)

Incidentally, Oh What a Lovely War is a great film but lousy history! Try reading a book, August 1914 by Barbara Tuchman is as good a place to start as any other.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

By David Duff at 15:33

I don’t need to read a book I’ve read them, I studied the first world war as part of a higher History course, doesn’t make me an expert I’ll grant you but I do know a bit about it and I am not blustering, do you continue to throw that in because you know you are talking nonsense? I have told you before that by 19 14 there was no way out there was no wriggle room because of the history of belligerence on all sides which had gone before, it was going to happen regardless of what happened in 19 14. Europe including Britain was infected by militarism and nationalism on all sides that is the shame of it, it did not need to happen.

My history lecturer who was in fact an expert used “Oh what a lovely war” as a constant reference to what had happened and years later my two daughters studied History including the first world war and their History teacher (degree in history and all that stuff) kept a library of Blackadder videos which he used to illustrate to his students the events of WW1. I did not name anyone as a warmonger and trying to see events through the static window of 19 14 is risible.

David Duff said...

"Oh What a Lovely War" and "Blackadder" as the basis for an education in the history of the First World War!

Need I say more?

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

By David Duff at 19:36

I know it must be difficult to accept that the first world war was a disgrace and brought shame on all concerned especially if you are a warmonger and little Englander but; we have to learn from our mistakes.

The two teachers concerned are history graduates and are highly respected in the profession so I suppose there isn’t much more to say; you are inadvertently correct for once; you really needn’t say any more.

I hope we are done with this because I don’t want you making anymore irrefutable allegations against me but I am getting bored with it.