Somme 2
War

Centenary of the Battle of the Somme: yesterday's youth died so that today's youth might be free

 

They didn’t really stand a chance. They were sons, husbands, fathers, friends and boys – some as young as 18 – ordered over the top into the direct line of enemy fire. Bullets and bombs above you; the squelch and slap of mud and sludge beneath you. At least when you fell you had an instant grave. The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme commemorates the 72,246 who rotted without a headstone; those “to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death”, says the preeminent inscription.

The fortune of war? What a noble, heroic romance.

The whole world was at it – from the Western Front to the Russian East; from Africa and the South Seas to Gallipoli and Mesopotamia: the scale was unprecedented. Some 30 million men were at arms, and munitions were expended to an extent hitherto regarded as impossible. Each year of agony brought its own devastating features: invasion and advancement were followed by interminable trench warfare and impasse. The Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest. A million or so men were either wounded or killed. It was a bloodiest hell in the history of human hostility.

Imagine being 18, writing what you know will probably be your last letter home, thanking mum for being so good, kind and caring; knowing you’ll never see her again; you’ll never kiss a girl, feel the butterflies of first love, or hold your own son in your arms. This pit is where you will die for King and country. It is your duty, and you will perform it because, deep down, you know it’s right.

This centenary falls in a week where we hear over and over again that the elderly “robbed” our young people of their future. By voting to leave the European Union, old people, we are told, have deprived the nation’s youth of their rightful future in Europe. No, it is yesterday’s young people who died in Europe so that today’s young people might have any kind of future at all. Old people haven’t robbed young people of their freedom or future in Europe: they gave it to them.

The world is fallen, and our moral reason is as flawed as our political judgment. The law within us is torn from the law of God, and we generate conceptions of freedom as autonomy independent of reality. For some, the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill‘ is absolute: life is the loan and blessing of God, and man is not free to end it. For others, human life has no supreme value: God commands killing for the just cause, and that requires surrender and sacrifice.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. As world leaders and royalty attend services of centennial commemoration, and priests and bishops preach of the futility of war and intone their laments for the fallen (while siding with the youth that they’ve been “robbed” of their future), the media is full of discussions and debates about tragedy, devastation, loss and colossal waste, and some will talk of casuistry, victory and justification. Christians pluck scriptures out of the air and conflate notions of holy war with Peter’s slaying of Ananias and Sapphira by his word. The Old Testament commands and justifies killing. The New Testament also countenances killing. But amidst a sea of texts that forbid it, there are anomalies and exceptions which establish the need for expository vigilance.

What we now call World War I was a war of national self-defence. The Battle of the Somme was a bloody disaster, an unimaginable horror, but it was necessary. You may demur, but you may not do so with appeal to the commands of God or heaven-storming idealism. If you believe that war is fundamentally contrary to the will of God, and so unnecessary in the defence of honour, justice and freedom, then you must justify our national subjugation to tyranny and oppression. The deadly reality of modern warfare, with its capacity to obliterate whole continents and annihilate whole populations, may have disclosed the evil of war more vividly than the weaponry of the Great War. But the scale of human sacrifice 100 years ago is a constant reminder that there are no optimistic illusions: war is dark and ugly; its consequences horrific.

Millions of our youngest and brightest freely enlisted in the service of God and King. Some signed up even before they were legally old enough to do so. Their country needed them, and they went. Most fought because they believed that the freedom and democracy of the British nation state is a value that Christians ought to defend, for it was the source of their whole physical, intellectual and spiritual life, and so crucial to their relationship with God. That was and remains the theological view of the Church of England, whose chaplains prayed, wept and bled alongside those who fell, and whose successors commemorate today their noble sacrifice.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

  • dannybhoy

    Thank you for reminding us of this the 100th act of commemoration of the Battle of the Somme.

    My wife and I have visited the Thiepval Memorial as well as many of the smaller cemeteries dedicated to the fallen.

    I watched the BBC2 programme last night, covering the beginning of the vigil. The whole thing was so moving and beautifully filmed. Huw Edwards is rapidly becoming an able replacement for the late Richard Dimbleby, and delivered with dignity and respect.

    One’s heart of course cannot fail to be moved by the names on that magnificent memorial, and the military representation from Britain, France and all over the Empire was a fitting mark of respect to the fallen.

    The French and UK authorities have tended these gravesites so well, and I think all children should have the opportunity to visit some of these sites and see for themselves. In one sense these sites are a palpable assurance that in Europe at least many recognise the sacrifice of a whole generation and the folly of war.

    From the Fureys, ‘The Green fields of France.’

  • The Explorer

    in the film ‘The Longest Day’ the German sections were directed by the Germans. A couple of German generals say, “You wonder whose side God is on,” and you realise that for them God being on the German side was a given.
    Hard to justify in the Second World War, but the same attitude applied to World War One. Some Germans sincerely thought God was on the side of the Germans. I saw a book of posters once, and one page had two WW1 posters of a knight fighting a dragon. The poster on the left was British, and the dragon was Germany; but the poster on the right was German, and the dragon was Britain.

    • Anton

      And of course we thought God was on our side in World War I. It was, I believe, recognised that the churches on both sides had recruited God and that this had hindered reconciliation between nations that had a Christian heritage, and the same mistake was not made during World War II. I was tempted to write “when God really was on our side” but if that was the case then it would have lasted only a few weeks.

      I have heard it said that, early in WW2, Churchill’s Bible fell open, while he was with a churchman, at Deuteronomy 9, “Do not think you will win because of your righteousness, but rather because of their evil” (paraphrased). Does anybody know the source of this tale, or even if it is true?

  • Jon Sorensen

    “Most fought because they believed that the freedom and democracy of the British nation state is a value that Christians ought to defend”
    Just like most Germans were Christians and were told the similar ideas. Christian nation vs Christian nation.

    I never understood the “yesterday’s youth died so that today’s youth might be free”. Young men died in WWI which lead to WWII which killed the next generation of young men. You might be able to say that about some countries in WWII, but often both sides argued that their young died for the freedom of nations. So sad.

    • dannybhoy

      Highly organised societies look to and obey the leadership. Men died because decisions were made that were wrong. There were all kinds of beliefs and attitudes displayed by the men, but ultimately they trusted their leadership and obeyed them.

      • Jon Sorensen

        Both sides were fed the idea that Christian God is on their side to stop question or criticizing the idea of fighting an other Christian nation.

        I don’t see highly organized societies like Australia, the US or UK obey the leadership. Leadership seem to change all the time when people don’t like the leadership.

        • dannybhoy

          They weren’t fed, as in ‘propaganda’ fed; they simply believed it. They had no real alternative source of information. I don’t think there was anything particularly sinister about these things.

          • Anton

            But they did, Danny; they had the Bible. Please see my comment below to Explorer.

          • dannybhoy

            Yes, their whole world was built on the Bible -as interpreted by the Church. A lot of them could hardly read or write Anton, and few had access to a wider source of knowledge.

          • Anton

            No. Check the literacy stats for Britain at that time.

          • dannybhoy

            http://www.educationengland.org.uk/history/chapter02.html

            http://www.educationengland.org.uk/history/chapter04.html
            Worth a flick through. The point is that the gap between the working classes and the privileged classes was still very wide. There was no desire by the leaderships to teach the workers children things that might lead to upsetting the established order.
            I personally have no problem with that. It’s how it was and we cannot really judge it, only seek to understand it.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Sure there were. Both sides’ Christians claimed that Jesus was on their side. They have a real alternative source of information; Quran, Skeptical thinking, Vedas, Mein Kampf… but you are right that there wasn’t anything particularly sinister about these things.

          • dannybhoy

            “They have a real alternative source of information; Quran, Skeptical thinking, Vedas, Mein Kampf…”
            Rubbish, Mein Kampf was written in 1925.
            As for the rest of your sources, most ordinary folk would not have had an intimate knowledge of them -if they had any knowledge of them at all.

          • Jon Sorensen

            I guess you are missing the point. There were plenty of alternative sources available in bookshops and libraries, but Christians propaganda told them that those are wrong and people tend to outsource critical thinking and follow dominant religion or superstition.

          • dannybhoy

            And I’m telling you that most ordinary people at that time did not read widely, and that society was divided into classes far more rigid than they are today. A strong sense of king and country prevailed, and an acceptance of ‘place’; so a very settled society.
            That of course worked to the advantage of the privileged classes, but it was all just accepted as ‘the way things are’, and very few questioned it.
            You may describe it as Christian propaganda, but that implies an agenda, and there was no agenda.
            Did you read the words of that song I quoted?

          • Jon Sorensen

            “there was no agenda”
            LOL Of course Christians have an agenda.

            “it was all just accepted as ‘the way things are’, and very few questioned it”
            Well that’s what church teaches…. “Doubt and questioning is bad”.

    • Erik Dahlberg

      Are we taking the view that God always chooses one of the sides for one is righteous and the other not? If it is the case that God always backs the righteous and they always succeed then do we therefore believe that no evil ever befalls history for the good guys are always backed by God and therefore the winners are in the right? Then there’s the time issue. For example, were we to deem Cyrus the Great to be in the right in 539 B.C when he conquered Babylon and freed the Jews, would we then consider Alexander the Great in the wrong when he broke the Persian empire at Gaugamela in 331 B.C. Or was Persia in the right for a while then God decided that they weren’t anymore? I think that we have to conclude that it is complicated, at least, to write of God supporting a side – but lets not lose sight of absolute truth of good and evil only recognise that human nations/civilisations are rarely absolute anything.

      Of course I believe that God supports the righteous but I also believe that, in this life at least, prosperity (aside from spiritually) and righteousness are not necessarily even correlated. So I agree with you, it is very sad. God moves in ways mysterious to us and the moment a historian attempts to bring Godly support into enormous historical events he needs to be very careful.

      • Jon Sorensen

        Maybe it is just human fighting each other without any supernatural intervention.

        “Some take the view that God always chooses one of the sides for one is righteous and the other not”
        So your God backed Nazis over Jews. This is where “theology” leads

        When ever someone says “God moves in ways mysterious to us” I hear an inner skeptic waiting to be release to investigate, test and critically think if this mystery is just cognitive dissonance

        • Erik Dahlberg

          Oh I agree completely with your point about it possibly being “human fighting” “without any supernatural intervention”. History moving in a line of progress requires us to be chronological snobs. As I said, “prosperity (aside from spiritually) and righteousness are not necessarily even correlated”. My God does not back the Nazis, I explained why God choosing a side as righteous and always backing them makes little historical sense. I think my bad habit of positing counter-arguments and not marking them out as clearly aside from mine own thinking has led us to outwardly disagree when in fact we do actually agree. A degree of divine intervention, however, is surely required for us not to think of the world as a closed system? The extent of that, yes, confuses me and I may well be in a state of cognitive dissonance.

          • Erik Dahlberg

            Just to be clear, I think that when history fails to move in the right direction, and there is an absolute right, then it is man’s rejection of God and not God’s abandonment of man.

        • Inspector General

          Maybe it is just human fighting each other without any supernatural intervention.

          We are doing what we are programmed to do. The supernatural intervention was a long time back now, but here we are, still at it.

          This Inspector for one can’t see humanity ever at peace with itself. Not on this earth. We weren’t designed to be. And there are races out there with enough unpleasant traits to confirm the observation, including around Europe. But we can find peace within ourselves and with our family. The peace that belief in the Almighty and our Christ brings. And reassurance too. Let’s not forget that. And perhaps God will be kindly disposed to us, despite us not joining in the mayhem all around, in a global sense, that apparently so entertains our creator…

          • Jon Sorensen

            Reality does not support your claims. Believing in the Almighty and your Christ has not brought the peace but wars and destruction. Sword and division he brought.

          • Inspector General

            God’s plan for humanity is eternal strife, but we can find an inner peace through Christ. A peace not dependant on any others, just yourself.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Any evidence of that plan?

          • Inspector General

            Plenty. But no one is going to lead you by the nose to it…

          • Jon Sorensen

            Avoiding the reality with cognitive dissonance is standard apologist method as you demonstrate.

  • Anton

    Lest we forget. Lest we forget. Lest we forget.

  • Erik Dahlberg

    Hindsight is, quite right, a wonderful thing and a strength of the historian; nonetheless, it can also be his greatest weakness. Hindsight lends us false notions (sometimes) of the inevitability of events or the obvious fallacy in plans – thinking of the Somme and Gallipoli in particular. The men and boys that fell at the Somme fell not needlessly although perhaps wastefully. The purpose of the Somme was actually achieved but in hindsight it is easy to look at the death toll and say that it shouldn’t have happened at all. Blame the tactics employed if you like but had the Somme not occurred, and the British not won, then Verdun’s outcome would likely have been different and a first world war Dunkirk would likely have occurred.

  • Anton

    “What we now call World War I was a war of national self-defence.”

    The Germans thought that too, at least on the Western front, for although the long stalemate came far inside France after a German invasion, fighting had only spread to the Western front at all because of the Franco-Russian defence pact against Germany and events beyond Germany’s eastern borders. In Berlin that pact looked like a pincer movement. The German plan to gut a defeated France, circulating soon after fighting began, appears to have been drawn up in the heat of the moment.

  • But we’re not really free, are we?

  • David

    War is a dreadful thing.
    Alas sometimes it is necessary.
    We must remember the fallen..

    We honour the fallen by avoiding wars that are unnecessary, of which we have had far too many recently – shame on recent political leaders !

  • len

    Yesterdays British youth died to preserve our freedom and democracy….Today’s youth has been indoctrinated into thinking that the values that these British soldiers fought and died for are’ no longer relevant’.
    Such is the level of deception from the enemies of freedom and democracy.

    • sarky

      Really?

    • Dreadnaught

      That we don’t teach the value of national sacrifice is hardly the fault of the young.

  • they believed that the freedom and democracy of the British nation state is a value that Christians ought to defend…That was and remains the theological view of the Church of England

    Remains?

    A church that believed in freedom and democracy would have been sickened by our membership of the European Union and would have fought against it with all the fervour of a Farage. By embracing the EU, the Church of England dumped on freedom and democracy.

    And, thanks to the racial and religious diversity so beloved of the church, the British nation state, the homeland of the British people, is dead and gone, and the church claps its little hands in joy.

    Today’s Church of England is no friend of freedom and democracy, and no friend of the British.

  • Dreadnaught

    The confection of Rule and Religion in the 19-20the centuries and the privileges conferred on the ruling class underpinned the conditions for war between the European States.
    All sides sold their populations the lie that they alone, had God on their side and they actually bought it ; dressed a patriotic duty and eternal reward for the fallen.
    Had today’s technology been available then as now, there would have been a profound public engagement in questioning the relative ruling elites in their motives for war.
    The Somme commemorations should serve not to praise the fallen as national heroes but to condemn their leaders for committing ordinary peoples lives to oblivion by the power of propaganda of their’s and the enemy’s politicians.
    Both sides shot their own for ‘cowardice’ or shunned and criminalised others for ‘dodging’ the full mobilisation legislation.
    I’m not a pacifist; far from it, and while I did not question military orders, I did question the theatrical performances by Priests, the Generals and Politicians alike in committing souls into the hands of God, whether or not those souls were true believers.
    Soldiers fight for their own survival and their mates; that is the only way the human psyche can come to accept death and dismemberment as ‘all part of the job’. No one sets out to be a bemedalled hero for politicians’ decisions: that is what generals are for.

    • Anton

      I do consider the fallen as national heroes. Please remember that the agony of the first day of the Somme was reached by a series of decisions made by politicians and generals on both sides, and it is difficult to say where anybody should have made any one decision differently.

      • dannybhoy

        Yes I agree with you.
        Dreadder’s sentence, “All sides sold their populations the lie that they alone, had God on
        their side and they actually bought it ; dressed a patriotic duty and
        eternal reward for the fallen.”
        is plain wrong. They were of their generation. European societies were far less well informed, steeped in the traditions and beliefs of their nation or people, and that included the politicians.
        We simply can’t judge it by modern standards except to say the obvious, that it was a terrible waste of life and that bad, ill informed decisions were made.
        Take a look at these beautiful old photos of rural Britain before the war and you get an idea of how settled life was for so many people across Europe..
        https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Early+1900s+Britain+rural+life&biw=1691&bih=656&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiwjpKcrtLNAhVCCMAKHcChBXsQsAQIKA

        • Anton

          Danny, get hold of the Mitchell and Kenyon DVD of street scenes from the pre-WW1 era. This was the era before cinemas, and moving film was developed and shown in the film-maker’s own premises with a small admission charge. A small boy handed out cards to the people before the camera, stating the address. For obvious financial reasons Mitchell and Kenyon chose scenes with plenty of people. What comes across instantly is how cheerful they all seem, rich and poor.

          • dannybhoy

            I love that old stuff, but I wouldn’t have lived long, wot wiv my ‘ealth..

            They wus poor, but they wus ‘appy!
            inspired by the song
            “11:- Tune:- She Was Poor But She Was Honest
            She was poor but she was honest
            Victim of the Colonel’s whim
            First he wooed her then seduced her
            And she had a child by him.

            It’s the same the whole world over,
            Isn’t it a bleedin’ shame!
            It’s the rich what gets the pleasure
            And the poor what gets the blame.

            Then she went away to London
            For to hide her grief and shame
            But she met an army captain
            And she lost her name again

            (It’s the same the whole world) etc.

            In the little Country cottage
            Where her saddened parents live
            Though they drink the fizz she sends ‘em
            Yet they never can forgive.

            It’s the same etc.

            Now she’s standing in the gutter
            Selling matches a penny -a –box
            While he’s riding in his carriage
            With an awful dose of pox

            It’s the same etc.

            See him in a grand theayter
            Eating chocolate in the pit
            While the poor girl what he ruined
            Wanders round through mud and shit

            It’s the same etc

            See him in the House of Commons
            Making laws to put down crime
            While the victim of his passion
            Slinks around to hide her shime
            .
            It’s the same etc

            Now she’s livin’ in the cottage
            But she very rarely smiles
            And her only occupation
            Is cracking ice for grandad’s piles. – See more at:

            http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/great-war-people/brothers-arms/372-songs-war.html#sthash.OT33tBJp.dpuf

          • IanCad

            Thanks Danny.

      • Dreadnaught

        In ‘going over the top’ the order was to stroll; not run, not zigzag, not to look for cover – just keep walking forward into a hot stream of lead and keep ’em coming or else be shot by your own Officer or NCO.
        The war had been running for two years and the machine gun placement and arcs of fire were well known, yet battle tactics had not advanced since the days of the cavalry charge. The making of the dead into heroes suited the inability of the Generals to come up with an alternative to fighting by attrition.
        It hurts us less to make excuses for ugly death in war by using the word ‘hero’ and I do agree it is not out of place now to apply its use. It bore no credit from the State, once the survivors returned home.
        Individual acts of heroism, self sacrifice for others is validated but the casual use of the word ‘hero’ to all diminishes this status in this touchy- feely age.

        • Anton

          I think it is heroic to obey such commands.

          • Dreadnaught

            Not heroic to openly refuse to go to war?

          • Anton

            I haven’t condemned the COs. I’m saying that those men who went over the top were heroes, that’s all.

          • Dreadnaught

            Just making a point.

          • IanCad

            In that case all were heroes or just plain stupid, or too afraid of peer pressure to do the sensible thing.

          • Anton

            They had been told the barbed wire had been destroyed by the previous week’s artillery barrage and they followed the “creeping fire” advance of the artillery which they had been told would clear the ground immediately ahead. I do regret that you consider stupidity as one explanation.

          • IanCad

            Far more heroic it would seem, would have been to shoot the officers.

          • Anton

            Junior Officers actually LED their men over the top. Senior ones were not on site to be shot at by either side.

          • IanCad

            I know that Anton. The losses among the officers were atrocious. To lay one’s life down for no just cause is plain stupidity. The menace of the herd is as strong in humans as it is in sheep.

          • dannybhoy

            Heroic!
            Nonsense.
            It was a sense of fatality, of resignation, of obedience to orders, of doing one’s duty because to not do so resulted in shame.
            Henry Williamson wrote some great stuff pre, during, and after ww1. His book about boyhood (Willie Maddison in Dandelion Days) remains a classic.

          • Anton

            It ill becomes the living to criticise the dead. They did nothing wrong. Just be grateful.

          • dannybhoy

            You are losing the plot a little here, Anton. No one’s putting these men down. We respect them for the sacrifice of their lives and their sense of patriotism. We deeply regret the loss of life.
            Were they heroes, I don’t know. Were they men who deserve our respect and gratitude and continued commemoration; absolutely.

          • Anton

            I don’t regret my comment but perhaps we should leave it at that.

          • dannybhoy

            Just that I don’t see where you get that I think they were wrong or that I am not grateful Anton.

          • Anton

            Given the care that you put into your list of reasons for going over the top, “a sense of fatality, of resignation, of obedience to orders, of doing one’s duty because to not do so resulted in shame”, I took this list to be exhaustive. To that list I must add great bravery. Can we agree about that?

          • dannybhoy

            I honestly don’t know. That there were great acts of bravery and sacrifice by men of all ranks and armies, absolutely. That we British have shown great resolve in wars and not cut and run is a noble characteristic.
            But you know I often write about the tribal instinct, and man’s inherent need to belong and to know his/her place in belonging. So I believe we do things as groups as armies and we obey because that’s how we are. That is how we men organise ourselves.
            To me a man who refuses to do something on principle, is/can be as much of a hero as a man playing his part in a line of battle. The former may not be recognised because he refused to take part in something he disagreed with; the latter will be recognised because he did what everyone else did.
            Like I say, I do not denigrate. I honour their memory. Please read what Harry Patch said..
            http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/495545/Harry-Patch-The-stirring-words-of-Britain-s-last-fighting-Tommy

          • Anton

            It may indeed be heroic to refuse orders in some circumstances. All I am saying is that the men who obeyed orders to go over the top at the Somme were acting heroically.

          • dannybhoy

            As long as we honour them and keep on honouring their memory. As I mentioned in my first comment on this post the wife and I have visited quite a few of these battlefield cemetries, and always always one is overwhelmed with the sense of the presence of the fallen and the words on the stones and the personal letters written by visiting family members from around the world..
            Humbling.

          • Anton

            Indeed. I shall not forget my visit to Thiepval.

          • dannybhoy

            Blessings brother Christian.

          • sarky

            ANYONE who gives their life, whatever the circumstances, for my freedom is and always will be, a hero.

          • CliveM

            Dannybhoy

            If you want a good insight into the men’s attitudes read Six Weeks, by John Lewis-Stempel. Mainly about the junior officers. One of my favourite books on the Great War.

          • dannybhoy

            Thanks Clive. I’ll look it up.

          • Dreadnaught

            Shot at Dawn or if you prefer SAD. If you click on this link and click again on the sub-link ‘stories’ you may be surprised as much as I was.
            http://www.greatwar.nl/frames/default-shotatdawn.html

          • Anton

            I am not criticising these men either. I am saying simply that it is heroic to obey such commands.

        • IanCad

          Your second paragraph applies just as much today as it ever did.
          Why on earth are we wasting money on obsolescent military equipment such as aircraft carriers and the astonishingly expensive F-35?
          Military Intelligence – the definitive oxymoron.

      • IanCad

        Their is no difference between the survivors and the heroes; that is, unless the differentiation is based solely on living or dying. – the luck of the draw. All were heroes – or were they all equally obedient?

        • Anton

          There’s an interesting tale in Falklands Admiral Sandy Woodward’s memoir 100 Days. Someone needed to check some waters to see if Argentinian mines had been laid, ahead of our landing. The skipper of the least important ship (Alacrity) volunteered to do it, and Woodward’s comment in the memoir is “This was VC material but, strangely, only if it went wrong.”

          • IanCad

            The admiral was wrong. Getting a VC does not demand dying first.

          • Anton

            Factually, Woodward was right. Whether this should be the case is the question and I can see both sides; can’t you?

          • IanCad

            Sounds to me like the skipper should have got his medal.
            The Falklands War was a justifiable defensive action against an invading force. Many other unsung heroes there.

          • Dreadnaught

            Col. H.Jones VC died leading a charge when he would have been better staying alive and directing it. It made for another ‘hero’ when in fact the real hero was a corporal who assumed the role vacated by: he did not get the VC.

          • Anton

            As I recall that attack had got bogged down and one crucial enemy machine gun needed silencing. You can hardly tell someone else to do that.

          • Dreadnaught

            What a strange thing to say.

          • dannybhoy

            My father served in the Royal Navy twenty years from 1925 to 1945. Mostly battle cruisers and destroyers.
            On one ship a depth charge (Mark VIIs) broke free in rough weather, and no one, officer nor rating, would go and try to secure the thing.
            My Dad did, and then others came and helped him. But he didn’t get any kind of commendation, as he had also been charged previously with ‘silent contempt’
            That’s how things are.

          • IanCad

            That Danny IS heroism. God Bless your dad.
            My father was one of the few civilians who was awarded an MD in WW2. I’m proud of him.

          • dannybhoy

            Amen to that. I loved my dad.

          • dannybhoy

            Just seen this Ian.
            Fathers are precious to their sons. My father was the second eldest of six brothers with four sisters. He was the only one who really escaped from that Geordie/Jarrow lifestyle by running away to sea at age 16. He was a hero to his family and a quiet gentle Dad to us. I’m pleased I have some of his qualities.

          • bluedog

            You would find that the VC is very much an army or air force award, being dependent upon observable individual gallantry for nomination. Ships are a collective exercise in warfare and despite the undoubted group heroism of a warship in action, it seems that only the captain gets a medal, and that’s the DSO.

  • IanCad

    A greater betrayal of their subjects by the state has no precedence. It should be celebrated as a remembrance only. It was not glorious. The waste of impressionable and easily influenced young men should be a lesson not a pattern. Only by subordinating the notion of the individual to the whole can any merit be wrung from the conflict.

    Chesterton had it right:

    The men that worked for England
    They have their graves at home:
    And bees and birds of England
    About the cross can roam.

    But they that fought for England,
    Following a falling star,
    Alas, alas for England
    They have their graves afar.

    And they that rule in England,
    In stately conclave met,
    Alas, alas for England,
    They have no graves as yet.

    • Anton

      Decent poetry but harder to name names!

    • Uncle Brian

      That’s a new one to me, Ian. The last two lines are terrific. They apply to the political class as a whole, at any time and not only in England, but in every country in the world. There may be one or two exceptions – Churchill, for instance – but there can’t be many.

      • teigitur

        “Romish Popish Papists.lol. Talk about over-egging your omelette!!

        • Uncle Brian

          Thank you, Teigitur. I take that as a compliment!

          • teigitur

            There is a surprise!

      • Royinsouthwest

        In the 1960s when I first became interested in politics Parliament was full of MPs who had served in the Second World War. Some of the older members had served in the First World War and for all I know there might have been some who had served in both. All political parties had there share of war veterans.

        This did not make them war-mongers. On the contrary, while most of them were in favour of having powerful armed forces they were cautious about getting involved in foreign conflicts because they knew what the price of that would be. Inevitably that generation started to relinquish the reigns of power they were followed by a generation with no military experience, That generation seemed less inhibited about military action. Sometimes it was successful, as with Britain’s intervention in Sierra Leone when Tony Blair was prime minister, but often it was either unsuccessful or success on the battlefield was followed by chaos which left the countries concerned in a worse state than before our military intervention.

        A further problem, as far as Britain was concerned, is that although our politicians were perfectly willing to commit our forces to military operations in places like Afghanistan they were much less willing to ensure that the numbers of troops were sufficient for the mission and that they had all the equipment they needed. It is as if the main object of the policy was simply to be seen to do something.

        In contrast the generation of politicians who had served in the Second World War would have thought hard about the pros and cons of military intervention and if they decided in favour of action they would have realised that it is no use willing the ends unless they provided the means.

        Similar criticisms could be made of political leaders in other western countries although American governments were at least willing to ensure that their troops were well equipped even if their politicians were just as clueless about what should be done after military objectives were achieved.

        After the failure of the Gallipoli Campaign, Winston Churchill, whose brainchild it had been, took full responsibility, resigned from the government, re-joined his old regiment in the army, and went off to fight in the trenches where he frequently risked his life.

        Can you imagine a modern political leader in Britain or the United States even going as far as resigning let alone joining the forces to fight himself?

        • Anton

          Or, better still, personally leading the charge?

          Paddy Ashdown was a poor politician but he always spoke sense on the subject of the use and preparedness of the armed forces, because he had been in them.

          • Royinsouthwest

            I agree with your comments, both positive and negative, on Paddy Ashdown and had been tempted to mention him as an exception to the rule for (relatively) recent MPs not to have any military experience but I decided my comment was long enough already.

  • dannybhoy

    My final tribute from whom I regard as the finest poet and chaplain of the Great War.
    Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy, aka Woodbine Willie (1883-1929)

    Our Padre were a solemn bloke,
    We called ‘im dismal Jim.
    It fairly gave ye t’ bloomin’ creeps,
    To sit and ‘ark at ‘im,
    When he were on wi’ Judgment Day,
    Abaht that great white Throne,
    And ‘ow each chap would ‘ave to stand,
    And answer on ‘is own.
    And if ‘e tried to charnce ‘is arm,
    And ‘ide a single sin,
    There’d be the angel Gabriel,
    Wi’ books to do ‘im in.
    ‘E ‘ad it all writ dahn, ‘e said,
    And nothin’ could be ‘id,
    ‘E ‘ad it all i’ black and white,
    And ‘E would take no kid.
    And every single idle word,
    A soldier charnced to say,
    ‘E’d ‘ave it all thrown back at ‘im,
    I’ court on Judgment Day.
    Well I kep’ mindin’ Billy Briggs,
    A pal o’ mine what died.
    ‘E went to ‘elp our sergeant Smith,
    But as ‘e reached ‘is side,
    There came and bust atween ‘is legs,
    A big Boche 5.9 pill.
    And I picked up ‘is corpril’s stripes,
    That’s all there was o’ Bill.
    I called to mind a stinkin’ night
    When we was carryin’ tea.
    We went round there by Limerick Lane,
    And Bill was a’ead o’ me.
    ‘Twere rainin’ ‘eavens ‘ard, ye know,
    And t’ boards were thick wi’ muck,
    And umpteen times we slithered dahn,
    And got the dicksee stuck.
    Well when we got there by the switch,
    A loose board tipped right up,
    And Bill, ‘e turned a somersault,
    And dahn ‘e came, and whup!
    I’ve ‘eard men blind, I’ve ‘eard ’em cuss
    And I’ve ‘eard ’em do it ‘ard,
    Well ‘aven’t I ‘eard our R.S.M.,
    Inspectin’ special guard.
    But t’other night I dreamed a dream,
    And just twixt me and you,
    I never dreamed like that afore,
    I arf thinks it were true.
    I dreamed as I were dead, ye see,
    At least as I ‘ad died,
    For I were very much alive,
    Out there on t’other side.
    I couldn’t see no judgment court,
    Nor yet that great white throne,
    I couldn’t see no record books,
    I seemed to stand alone.
    I seemed to stand alone, beside
    A solemn kind o’ sea.
    Its waves they got in my inside,
    And touched my memory.
    And day by day, and year by year,
    My life came back to me.
    I see’d just what I were, and what
    I’d ‘ad the charnce to be.
    And all the good I might ‘a’ done,
    An’ ‘adn’t stopped to do.
    I see’d I’d made an ‘ash of it,
    And Gawd! but it were true
    A throng ‘o faces came and went,
    Afore me on that shore,
    My wife, and Mother, kiddies, pals,
    And the face of a London whore.
    And some was sweet, and some was sad,
    And some put me to shame,
    For the dirty things I’d done to ’em,
    When I ‘adn’t played the game.
    Then in the silence someone stirred,
    Like when a sick man groans,
    And a kind o’ shivering chill ran through
    The marrer ov my bones.
    And there before me someone stood,
    Just lookin’ dahn at me,
    And still be’ind ‘Im moaned and moaned
    That everlasting sea.
    I couldn’t speak, I felt as though
    ‘E ‘ad me by the throat,
    ‘Twere like a drownin’ fellah feels,
    Last moment ‘e’s afloat.
    And ‘E said nowt, ‘E just stood still,
    For I dunno ‘ow long.
    It seemed to me like years and years,
    But time out there’s all wrong.
    What was ‘E like? You’re askin’ now.
    Can’t word it anyway.
    ‘E just were ‘Im, that’s all I knows.
    There’s things as words can’t say.
    It seemed to me as though ‘Is face,
    Were millions rolled in one.
    It never changed yet always changed,
    Like the sea beneath the sun.
    ‘Twere all men’s face yet no man’s face,
    And a face no man can see,
    And it seemed to say in silent speech,
    ‘Ye did ’em all to me.
    ‘The dirty things ye did to them,
    ‘The filth ye thought was fine,
    ‘Ye did ’em all to me,’ it said,
    ‘For all their souls were mine.’
    All eyes was in ‘Is eyes, – all eyes,
    My wife’s and a million more.
    And once I thought as those two eyes
    Were the eyes of the London whore.
    And they was sad, – My Gawd ‘ow sad,
    With tears that seemed to shine,
    And quivering bright wi’ the speech o’ light,
    They said, ”Er soul was mine.’
    And then at last ‘E said one word,
    ‘E just said one word ‘Well?’
    And I said in a funny voice,
    ‘Please can I go to ‘Ell?’
    And ‘E stood there and looked at me,
    And ‘E kind o’ seemed to grow,
    Till ‘E shone like the sun above my ead,
    And then ‘E answered ‘No
    ‘You can’t, that ‘Ell is for the blind,
    ‘And not for those that see.
    ‘You know that you ‘ave earned it, lad,
    ‘So you must follow me.
    ‘Follow me on by the paths o’ pain,
    ‘Seeking what you ‘ave seen,
    ‘Until at last you can build the ‘Is,’
    ‘Wi’ the bricks o’ the ‘Might ‘ave been.”
    That’s what ‘E said, as I’m alive,
    And that there dream were true.
    But what ‘E meant, – I don’t quite know,
    Though I knows what I ‘as to do.
    I’s got to follow what I’s seen,
    Till this old carcase dies.
    For I daren’t face the land o’ grace,
    The sorrow ov those eyes.
    There ain’t no throne, and there ain’t no books,
    It’s ‘Im you’ve got to see,
    It’s ‘Im, just ‘Im, that is the Judge
    Of blokes like you and me.
    And boys I’d sooner frizzle up,
    I’ the flames of a burning ‘Ell,
    Than stand and look into ‘Is face,
    And ‘ear ‘Is voice say – ‘Well?”

    • Royinsouthwest

      What a marvellous poem! I had never heard of it or of its author before. It is nice to learn new things from this blog.

      • dannybhoy

        His most popular works were “The Unutterable Beauty”, “Rough Rhymes of a Padre.” He became a Christian Socialist and got involved with the Pacifist movement after the war..
        This is probably my favourite poem by him..
        “IT is not finished, Lord.

        There is not one thing done,

        There is no battle of my life,

        That I have really won.

        And now I come to tell Thee

        How I fought to fail,

        My human, all too human, tale

        Of weakness and futility.

        And yet there is a faith in me,

        That Thou wilt find in it

        One word that Thou canst take

        And make

        The centre of a sentence

        In Thy book of poetry.

        I cannot read this writing of the years.

        My eyes are full of tears,

        It gets all blurred, and won’t make sense

        It’s full of contradictions

        Like the scribblings of a child,

        Such wild, wild

        Hopes, and longing as intense

        As pain, which trivial deeds

        Make folly of—or worse:

        I can but hand it in, and hope

        That Thy great mind, which reads

        The writings of so many lives,

        Will understand this scrawl

        And what it strives

        To say — but leaves unsaid.

        I cannot write it over,

        The stars are coming out,

        My body needs its bed.

        I have no strength for more,

        So it must stand or fall

        — Dear Lord —

        That’s all.”

        • Anton

          Did he write any hymns, or any poetry suitable to be set to music as a hymn? That, rather than poetry, would seem to have been the ideal outlet for his talent. It’s not quite the same thing.

          • dannybhoy

            Anton.
            Does it matter?

            Do we remember him as a Christian padre with a gift for putting things he’d seen and things he believed into verse or as a ‘wannabe poet’ who, according to later ‘poetry purists’ didn’t quite make the cut…

            “Born in Leeds in 1883, Kennedy was the seventh of nine children born to Jeanette Anketell and William Studdert Kennedy, a vicar in Leeds. He was educated at Leeds Grammar School and Trinity College, Dublin,
            where he gained a degree in classics and divinity in 1904.
            After a year’s training, he became a curate in Rugby and then, in 1914, the vicar of St. Pauls, Worcester.

            On the outbreak of war, Kennedy volunteered as a chaplain to the armed forces on the Western Front, where he gained the nickname ‘Woodbine Willie’, for his practice of giving out Woodbine cigarettes to soldiers.(and New Testaments)
            In 1917, he won the Military Cross at Messines Ridge after running into no man’s land to help the wounded during an attack on the German frontline.”

            The man was a true Christian soldier Anton, with a gift for writing poetry in the vernacular.
            What I am getting at is that we cannot laud all these men as heroes, and then sniff at some because their poetic efforts were not up to snuff.
            Studdert Kennedy has been deliberately left out as worthy of mention simply because,

            a)He was an unashamedly Christian padre -and therefore an embarrassment to the delicate sensitivities of the anti- Colonial/ anti-Christian /”All religions are Equal” mob.
            b) His poetry or rhyme if you prefer, was not as good as some others.
            It may however be that his ‘rhyming’ was cathartic; a way of coping with the horrors he saw all around him, whilst recording the bravery of the men around him, and his own musings on war and a God of Love.
            That might be a more acceptable explanation for today’s Establishment which shies away from sincere Christian faith….

          • Anton

            I regard him as a great man. I think he is not a good poet but that what talent he had in that area could usefully have been deployed in hymn writing; that is why I asked if he had written any hymns, in which I would have been genuinely interested. Because I have such a high opinion of him, I deliberately hid my views of his poetry until you asked me.

          • dannybhoy

            I like hymns too. He wrote words for hymns using established tunes..
            Here…
            http://www.hymnary.org/text/awake_awake_to_love_and_work

          • Anton

            Thank you!

  • Inspector General

    The Somme. Dreadful business.

    It’s hard now, one hundred years on, to appreciate how it was back then. One area of Europe so intent on controlling another part that war was no problem for them. Scheming and planning came naturally.

    Today, we live freely, with no part of Europe out to dominate another. Isn’t that the case…Well, isn’t it?

    • dannybhoy

      I think so IG. With instant communication we see and hear the new almost as it happens. The only real concern is a rogue Russian State which continues to brood in the background, and which incidentally the EU has failed to really stand up to over Ukraine..
      But that’s for another day.

      • Anton

        Nah, let’s do it. Ukraine is run by ex-KGB just like Russia, and has been in the Russian orbit for centuries. It was once a State called Kiev Rus which gave its name to Russia. This really is Putin’s backyard and he is welcome to it. NATO stops at the Polish border and that is right: make it plain to Putin too.

        • dannybhoy

          Nah, let’s not.
          Indulge me instead and give me your thoughts as to why after all the talk here about how different that generation was, and how brave, how educated or not, how patriotic and influenced by the then Christian ethos…
          Yet no one but no one has commented on that poem by Woodbine Willie. I know he is considered an embarrassment whereas say Rupert Brooke is feted; but I am quite curious as to why the poems of a man of God who was there and brought comfort hasn’t merited a comment.
          Is it because he often wrote in the vernacular, or his theology was suspect?
          Your thoughts, brother Anton.

          • Anton

            I can’t speak for others but I made no comment because (a) I have been discussing themes rather than individuals here, and (b) while I regard Woodbine Willie as a great man, I cannot say the same about his poetry, and I did not wish to disparage a great man.

          • dannybhoy

            Good answer. Personally I suspect that yes Brooke wrote better poetry, but also he didn’t carry the embarrassment of religion with him..
            I think Studdert Kennedy wrote for the men he knew during those terrible years, a kind of homage perhaps.
            I notice here http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/biogs99.htm there is no mention of him..
            Testimonies to Studdert Kennedy’s bravery..
            http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/lifestyle/woodbine-willie-different-kind-war-3948562
            http://www.johndavies.org/sermons/gs_09_03_08.html

          • Anton

            Brooke was capable of doggerel (“At Grantchester”) but “The Soldier” is justly feted, and you can’t write an excellent poem without being an excellent poet. I presume his peccadillos are mentioned on his Wikipedia page; on this thread about WWI suffice it to say that he did his duty. George Orwell took Kipling to task for his writing of soldier poetry in “working class English” and I think Orwell made good points.

          • dannybhoy

            Oh come on Anton! You realise that last sentence reeks of snobbery and class?!
            Yes, Orwell was a fine journalist and in some ways a secular prophet, but really this just shows that the class system remains alive and well in the UK when ‘rough men with accents’ are good enough to die but not good enough to inspire acceptable poetry acceptable to the literary elite…..
            Here we’ve had a whole post discussing these sons of Britain and their qualities, yet at the final hurdle they fall because they didn’t speak proper.

          • Anton

            Slow your trigger finger down! Orwell was saying, using exactly these terms, that the working class didn’t deserve to be patronised in the way Kipling did, and I’m just reporting what he said (though I happen to agree).

          • dannybhoy

            Well was it/is it patronising?
            I remember years back when we heard lots of regional accents.
            My parents spoke broad Geordie, with ‘Hinnie’ and ‘Pet’ and ‘Hen’ and ‘yill wonder what cuddie kicked yez!”
            It is all a part of the rich tapestry that makes up our social and tribal history. We wouldn’t have been able to understand half of these blokes today, and yet they shared a common loyalty to the country they loved.
            If you happen to agree, then on what basis do you value their (the common soldier’s) contribution to the war?
            Is it with the same affection a stable owner regards his winning horse?

          • Anton

            I do not consider that I have disparaged the British Tommy; like Orwell I consider I was defending him from Kipling’s patronising attitude, in fact. Please stop this grilling, especially after you have written, when I insisted that our Tommies were heroic in going over the top into a hail of bullets, “Heroic! Nonsense” and went on to list (below) other reasons. Can we just be thankful for what they did? Anyway I’m off to the local for a swift drink.

          • dannybhoy

            Hmmph.
            You didn’t disparage the British Tommy Anton.That was not your intention I know. I wasn’t grilling you either. I asked your opinion because I value it. It doesn’t mean we have to agree though, does it?
            Danny gets unashamedly passionate about certain things, and whether as personal friends or as brothers in faith, it’s okay.

          • Anton

            No probs agreeing, or where necessary agreeing to disagree. Just back from the pub. Shalom.

    • Shadrach Fire

      No part of Europe out to dominate another? That is exactly what I thought Brussels was trying to do.

    • Dreadnaught

      Quite so. It puts our recent blip of uncertainty into focus.

    • carl jacobs

      Well, let’s at least be historically honest. The UK was the dominant power in Europe at the time and it fought to maintain that dominance over Germany. Specifically, it fought to insure that no power could unite the continent and thus threaten British sea lanes to the colonies. WWI was a defensive war, but it was a war in defense of empire. It was a defense of Britain’s place in the world.

      The war would not have been so catastrophic if the UK had stayed out. France and Russia would have collapsed in short order. But one has only to survey the strategic situation after a German victory to understand why Britain fought. It wasn’t about saving Europe from German dominance. It was about saving Britain from German dominance and the relegation of Britain to the status of German satellite.

      • Capitalist-Imperialism.

        • carl jacobs

          Careful, Jack. Your red slip is showing.

          • Power to the People.

          • carl jacobs

            I believe the correct phrase is “All power to the Soviets!”

          • It’s a John Lennon song.

            Besides, your description of the causes of WWI is a classic account of capitalist imperialism at play.

          • carl jacobs

            You mean as opposed to that benign humanistic altruistic Catholic Imperialism?

          • There were over 17 million deaths in WWI. Then, in Part II, over 60 million people were killed.

            And for what – to secure and defend the Empire from competition? An Empire benefitting who? It seems it wasn’t for democracy and freedom – or to protect Belgium or Poland.

          • carl jacobs

            Would you have preferred that England become a vassal state of Germany?

          • The Catholic Church would have done a better job at managing the greed and insecurities of nations, is Jack’s point.
            It’s a strange irony of history that Britain declared war on Germany over the invasion of two Catholic countries – Belgium in 1914 and Poland in 1939.

          • Royinsouthwest

            Yes, but Lenin was around before Lennon!

          • Anton

            Carl is correct in his main point, that Britain “fought to insure that no power could unite the continent and thus threaten British sea lanes to the colonies.” (He means “ensure”, of course.)

          • Royinsouthwest

            In this context “unite” is a euphemism for “conquer.”

          • carl jacobs

            “Unite” is more encompassing. It had been British policy forever to divide the European powers in order to keep them focused inward while Britain focused outward. It didn’t really matter to Britain why the continent stayed divided so long as it remained divided.

          • bluedog

            Nothing has changed. Following Brexit, and assuming successful implementation of Brexit, the collapse of the EU becomes a vital national interest of the UK. If the EU ever moves towards a genuine political union and a credible military subsequently emerges, British options contract. An alliance with Russia would be one remedy, as it was in WW2.

          • carl jacobs

            Ahem! From the OED. Definition 2.

            http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/english/insure

            Secure or protect someone against (a possible contingency)

          • bluedog

            It’s a capitalist-imperialist world, comrade. Briefly it was a capitalist-imperialist versus socialist-imperialist world. But the socialist world lost popular support and collapsed.

      • Inspector General

        Not like you to be historically inaccurate! The UK was NOT the dominant power. How could it be with a small army and no presence on the continent.

        But the country knew that no good would come from German hegemony there, and it did what it had to do. Shore up the French and keep them at the front…

        • carl jacobs

          See my reply to bluedog.

        • Merchantman

          I blame the Kaiser and German kultur. Both full of dark ambition and weirdness etc.

      • bluedog

        So, after the British government rejected the proposal of the German government for an international peace conference, a few days later on 28th July 1914, the massed hordes of the BEF surged across the Belgian border hell-bent on their objective of Berlin? Royal Navy battle squadrons scoured the North Sea and Baltic, indiscriminately shelling German ports and coastal towns? British submarines commenced unrestricted attacks on German shipping? Count Zeppelin defected to the British Empire in a night flight to Scotland, and offered his expertise for the strategic bombing of the central powers using airships?

        Woops. The truth is very different. As the hegemonial global power, Great Britain of course had a vested interest in preserving the peace, a position analogous to that of the US today. If war broke out we had the most to lose, ergo, we didn’t want war. We were understandably concerned by Germany’s growing economic power and the ultimately misconceived German attempts to challenge British naval supremacy. The parallels today with the rise of China and Chinese naval expansion, challenging US naval supremacy in the western Pacific, are moot.

        Other factors which you have conveniently over-looked:

        1) The collapse of the Ottoman Empire in southern Europe created a power vacuum that both Austrian and Russian empires sought to fill by supporting rival independence movements.

        2) The burning desire of the French to avenge their defeat by Prussia in 1871 leading to the Entente Cordiale, with the objective of containing Germany.

        3) The 1913 position paper by the German General Staff whose analysis showed that on the basis of existing trends a re-equipped Russian army (by France) would be able to overwhelm Germany any time after 1916. As Russia liberalised its economic growth had soared.

        4) The logistical mechanics of railway borne mobilisation that dictated counter-mobilisation.

        5) The German government’s rejection of the peace conference proposed by the British in late July 1914.

        Note that immediately after the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand on 28th June 1914 the French president didn’t stay in Paris, coordinating French responses to the emerging crisis. No, he boarded a French battleship and sailed through the Baltic to Russia, where he met the Tsar and painted a picture of mutually beneficial opportunity at the expense of Germany. The return voyage took three weeks!

        This wasn’t a simple Britain versus Germany match. There were a large number of complicating factors, not the least of which were the competing ambitions of six empires, not just two.

        Recommended reading: The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clarke.

        • carl jacobs

          I wasn’t addressing the question “Why did the war happen?” I was addressing the question “Why did Britain – safe as she was behind the Royal Navy – choose to fight?” If the war had remained a continental war, it would have been much shorter and much less severe. It was the decision by the UK to fight that caused the Western Front stalemate.

          Britain was a true global power. Germany was bidding to become a true global power at the inevitable expense of the UK. That at the most basic level was the real cause over which WWI was fought. Which European power would hold the title of dominant global power – Germany or the UK.

          • Inspector General

            Try and give Germany a bit more credit for starting that terrible war, Carl. And similarly the UK’s honouring of treaties in place, that rested obligations upon us. There’s a good fellow…

          • carl jacobs

            Try and give Germany a bit more credit for starting that terrible war

            Who started that war? Was it the radicals in the Serbian Gov’t who were involved with the assassination of the Archduke? Was it the incompetence and intransigence of the Austrian Gov’t in its handling of the crisis? What is Russia’s desire to expand its influence into SE Europe at the expense of Austria-Hungary? Was it German fear of a rising Russia? Was it French fear and animosity towards Germany? Was it British concern to protect the Empire? There were many responsible for the outbreak of war. Germany got saddled with the guilt only because Germany lost the war.

            the UK’s honouring of treaties in place

            Hrmmm. Should I ask the Czechs about that? In any case, nations do not sacrifice 4% of their male population for the sake of a treaty with “plucky little Belgium.”

            Your question also doesn’t address why those treaties existed in the first place. They weren’t altruistic arrangements to secure the peace and prosperity of Europe. They were intended to maintain the balance of power on the continent to Britain’s advantage. Britain always aligned against the strong continental power. In 1914, that was Germany.

          • Inspector General

            Be with you in a minute Carl. The Inspector is just looking something up…Ah, here it is!

            Sitting comfortably?…then one will begin…

            “Germany attacked Luxembourg on 2 August and on 3 August declared war on France. On 4 August, after Belgium refused to permit German troops to cross its borders into France, Germany declared war on Belgium as well”

            Good Lord! Talk about enthusiasm….they must have been spitting blood that week!

          • Anton

            Here’s how it happened. The heir to the (Habsburg) throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire was assassinated by a Serb nationalist in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia – a territory which Austria had annexed from the Ottomans some years earlier. Austria and Serbia both had ambitions in the Balkans as Turkey, which had recently lost most of its European territories in the First Balkan War, continued to decline. Serbia was backed by Russia; both were Orthodox in their Christianity. Following this assassination Germany gave Austria a blank cheque to deal with Serbia. In the gradual escalation to slaughter it is rash to single out responsibility, but this was one of the crucial decisions. The Austrians then sent the Serbs an obviously unacceptable set of terms to sign to stave off war. Russia began the mobilisation of parts of its armed forces – a significant escalation, although Russia required more time to mobilise than other countries. The first declaration of war and the first hostilities were by Austria against Serbia, one month of fruitless backroom diplomacy after the assassination. This action made conflict inevitable between their backers, Germany and Russia. Those two had a long common border, as the Polish people did not have their own State at the time.

            But war would not be confined to the east. France and Russia, on either side of Germany, had a defence pact against it and, when Germany demanded French neutrality, France did not reply but continued to mobilise its troops. Germany then invaded France through Belgium. Britain declared war on Germany to fulfil a long-standing pact with Belgium, although it could provide no immediate help. Britain also supported France, in line with British continental strategy of adding its own strength to the underdog, so as to tip the balance and prevent any single power from dominating Western Europe – and threatening Britain’s sea lanes.

            The enfeebled Ottoman Empire realised that it would be drawn in and after months of vacillation it entered on the German side, which was fighting Turkey’s perennial adversary Russia; alliance with Austria might also save Ottoman territory in the Balkans from Austrian predation. Italy, in contrast, tore up its three-decade-old defence pact with Austria and Germany, asserting that they were aggressors, and declared itself against Austria in 1915 aiming to wrest some border territory from it.

            Germany was dominated internally by Prussia, whose capital Berlin was the national capital. The Prussian generals believed that the window for a war in Europe was uniquely favourable, before Russia, backward but industrialising and huge, modernised its armed forces. The Kaiser, publicly bellicose but privately more hesitant, let himself be led to war by his politicians and generals. Fear of being cast at a disadvantage was as much a motivation for war in many capitals as bellicosity; what looked in Paris and St Petersburg like a defence pact looked in Berlin like a pincer movement, for instance. By the 20th century governments could put their civilians to the war effort in industrialised armaments factories, while improved artillery and automatic weapons were capable of mechanised slaughter. And so a tragedy unfolded.

            Now for some counterfactual What Ifs. Britain and Germany would have been obvious allies against Russia, for Britain was opposed to Russia in the ‘great game’ in Asia, and Germany was opposed to Russia in Europe. As part of such an alliance Britain might have required Germany not to attack France; after winning the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 Germany had no lost territory to regain in the west. (The German plan to gut a defeated France, circulating soon after fighting began in 1914, appears to have been drawn up in the heat of the moment.) No alliance between Germany and Britain was forged in the crucial decades, however. As for Britain’s Asian interests, London crossed its fingers that a 1907 accord with Russia about spheres of influence would hold.

          • Inspector General

            A very interesting potted history of the time. Well done for finding it…

            All comes down to a recently unified Germany looking to ‘try itself out’. Do read about the massive fortune Germany spent on building itself an impressive fleet. Started a FULL DECADE EARLIER….

          • Anton

            Germany eventually pulled out of that naval race, which we won.

            I’m glad you like that summary, Inspector. I wrote it myself, although not in the last few hours.

          • Inspector General

            Did you really? You have the gift of scope and brevity, sir.

          • Anton

            Thank you! Part of a larger work in progress..

          • bluedog

            The German battle fleet was a futile diversion of resources for an almost landlocked power like Germany. They could have invested the money for a better return elsewhere in Europe.

          • Inspector General

            Not so. Those incredibly expensive warships were proof if any were needed that Germany was planning on increasing it’s ‘presence’ in Europe…

          • bluedog

            Germany faces a dual threat, France to the west, Russia to the east. As Germany is located mainly on the North German Plain (!) a very powerful army is far more important to its security than a navy.

            In 1914 and until they were evicted by the Red Army in 1945, there were German settler populations in much of Eastern Europe, including Russia itself. These settler populations to the east of East Prussia would have been sympathetic to German expansion, if properly exploited. look at a map of Germany in 1914 and you will see what I mean. The Germans and the Russians have a long history of abusing Poland. Note that in c1790, Prussia and emergent Russia conspired to destroy the Polish state and its commonwealth. 100 years earlier, in 1685, it was the King of Poland who led an army that saved Vienna from the Turks. Ungrateful? Jawohl!

          • Inspector General

            One of the effects, shall we call them, of analysing past warfare is that we tend to view the situation as if we were general officers on the army board. In reality at the time, these imagined threats were just that. Imaginings of what MIGHT happen in a bad year…but probably won’t, for the foreseeable future…

          • carl jacobs

            A powerful navy was proof of major power status in the early 20th century. Not surprising Germany went there. It was that fleet that caused so much concern in Britain.

          • carl jacobs

            And what of Austria’s declaration of war on 28 July? Was that just a customs action? And what of Russia’s general mobilization on 30 July? A training exercise?

          • CliveM

            What of Austrias declaration? Without the Kaisers blank cheque, they would never have gone to war. If there was a key moment, it was that.

          • carl jacobs

            Without Russia’s mobilization, there never would have been a war. That was the key moment. That was first provocative act by a major power. Austria had a legitimate Casis Belli against Serbia. The Serbian Gov’t was involved in the assassination after all. I wonder how the UK would have reacted to the Prince of Wales being assassinated by a foreign Gov’t?

            The imponderable question is why did Nicholas II take Russia to war. It was a catastrophically bad decision that cost him his crown, his nation, his empire, and his life. Religious and national affinity don’t adequately explain it.

          • Anton

            Russian knew it took much longer to mobilise than Germany, which was already backing Austria with a blank cheque. The issuing of that blank cheque and the Russian mobilisation were BOTH key escalations. I think it is unreasonable to single out any one action.

          • carl jacobs

            I think it is unreasonable to single out any one action.

            I don’t really disagree. But the moment of no return was Russia’s mobilization order. My larger point is that Germany alone was not responsible for the outbreak of that war. All five of the major powers played their part, and all five jointly carried responsibility. The attribution of guilt to Germany was a consequence of the cost of the war, and the need within the victorious powers to blame someone (else) for it.

          • Inspector General

            It always helps in these matters to decide who fired the first shot, and one doesn’t mean the assassination of the archduke.

          • Anton

            That was Austria (knowing it had German backup) vs Serbia.

          • Inspector General

            Indeed. A minor skirmish. Now, we have to decide who was responsible for the escalation…

          • CliveM

            Anton

            The German Generals were determined to go to war and had decided It needed to be then. Those in the German government who agreed even delayed the Kaisers orders to ensure it didn’t stop Austria declaring war and precipitating a wider conflict.

          • Anton

            I know, and I agree.

          • CliveM

            Which must lead to the conclusion that Germany was the only Country that could have stopped the conflict (in the context of the time), didn’t and indeed ensured it happened, which means the largest part of the blames lies with them.

          • Anton

            I have’t thought that chain of reasoning through; without necessarily disagreeing, take it up with Carl!

          • carl jacobs

            Russia could have stopped the onset of war. It was Russia that took the first irrevocable step. All that had to happen was for Austria to be left to deal with Serbia as it saw fit. Considering the performance of the Austrian army in August 1914, it’s not a sure the ng Austria would have won.

          • CliveM

            No it was Austria, with the support of Germany. The Generals and Austria knew it would provoke Russa to mobilise, the German Generals were depending on it.

          • carl jacobs

            I agree. But that didn’t mean Russia had to take the bait. Russia chose to mobilize.

          • CliveM

            From Russia’s PoV it had no choice, if it didn’t it would lose any claim it had of being a major power. It would be humiliated and so soon after the disaster of the Russian/Japanese war, it couldn’t allow that. The Germans knew it.

          • carl jacobs

            The Russian Gov’t always had a choice. It was not compelled to fight a war it could not win. It did not go to war against its will. It’s not Germany’s fault Russia made the choice it did.

          • CliveM

            well that logic could equally be applied to Germany coming in on the side of Austria. It didn’t have to, no one made it.

          • carl jacobs

            It didn’t come in on the side of Austria. It simply guaranteed support against the Russians. If Russia had stayed away, the German guarantee would have been moot.

            But Russia didn’t stay away.

          • CliveM

            As Russia did with Serbia. If Austria hadn’t declared war, it would have been moot. The logic applies both ways.

          • carl jacobs

            Austria’s attack on Serbia wasn’t a direct confrontation between two major powers. That is a big difference. Russia was preparing to start a major war.

            And (as I said earlier) Austria had a legitimate Casis Belli against Serbia.

          • CliveM

            No Russia wasn’t planning on starting a major war, Germany was.

            With regards Austrias ‘Casis Belli’, any justification had been removed by the Serbs response to Austrias ultimatum. But Austria wasn’t interested in gaining justice for the murder of the Archduke (a man hated in Austria anyway), they wanted a war with Serbia . They were given a blank cheque by Germany to do what they wished and it snowballed from the there.

          • carl jacobs

            I agree with this, Clive. Germany carries the largest share of responsibility. It doesn’t carry sole responsibility. The Germans were looking to take down Russia before it became a major threat to Germany’s Eastern front. But is this so different from the Crimean War which Britain fought for no reason other than to keep Russia out of the Mediterranean? And can you say that there weren’t those in the British Gov’t in 1914 who were looking for a war with Germany for very analogous reasons to those held by Germany towards Russia?

          • Inspector General

            Hmmm Germany, in the full throw of industrialisation and mechanisation in fear of Russia which was all but agrarian!

          • carl jacobs

            Russia was modernizing rapidly in 1914. One of the great tragedies of history is the fact that WWI aborted Russian development. What might have been…

          • CliveM

            I agree with you on this point!

          • CliveM

            A Government is full of competing opinions at the best of times. Pre the declaration of war, was there members of the liberal government who wanted to go to war if it came? Yes undoubtedly. But without the invasion of Belgium it wouldn’t haven’t happened. Also by the time Britain declared war, the continent was already at war. Britain didn’t cause it, encourage it or could have stopped it. It was already taking place.

          • bluedog

            Exactly. Just before the Russians mobilised (with the French whispering in their ears) the British government tried to float the idea of an international conference to negotiate a path out of crisis. The Germans rejected the British proposal.

          • CliveM

            agreed. The British were the only ones who didn’t want the war.

          • carl jacobs

            My point being that Germany’s behavior before the war was well within the norm of other Imperial European powers.

            I repeat. Britain did not go to war over Belgium. That was a convenient piece of propaganda. If Germany had simply invaded Belgium, there would have been no major war. If Germany had respected Belgian neutrality, Britain would still have went to war. It had nothing to with Belgium and everything to do with German power.

            Whether Britain could have stopped it is an interesting counterfactual. What is undisputed however is that British participation directly caused the terrible bloodletting that occurred. It was the addition of Britain that stalemated Germany. If Britain had stayed out, the war would have been resolved fairly quickly.

          • Inspector General

            Resolution: A big chunk of France surrendered to Germany….

            Do you know, Carl, there’s something in what you say…

          • carl jacobs

            Britain absolutely had to fight. And it is a tragedy that the addition of British power caused the war to stalemate as it did.

            But Britain’s motives for fighting were not all that different from Germany’s motives. It was not a virtuous war of defense against aggression. It was a Imperial war for sole possession of Imperial dominance.

          • Inspector General

            No telling some people, what!

            Did you think the Inspectorate was on fine form tonight – the Inspector did…

            Good night.

          • carl jacobs

            You are usually in good form when you aren’t trying to talk about race or theology. I might even go so far as to say that you did “marginally OK.” 😉

            Except for the Israelis. You led with your chin on that one.

          • CliveM

            So it’s the British fault that millions died? Not the country that precipitated the war? Interesting logic.

          • carl jacobs

            Im not attributing fault. I’m stating a fact. Do you dispute it?

            Britain went to war to defend its empire and its place of prominence. Do you dispute this as well? No one in 1914 had any idea how destructive the next war would be. Do you think Britain wouldn’t have started a war with a major power if it thought its interests demanded it?

          • bluedog

            Britain doesn’t do land wars, except when under direct threat. Hence the small size of the British Army (80,000) in 1914. So your comment about Britain starting a war with a major power collapses in the face of British unpreparedness for war against all but a naval power threatening British trade.

          • carl jacobs

            And that adventure in Crimea? That was a French undertaking, I guess?

            And where exactly was the British Army deployed in 1914? It had conquered land all over the world. This is the nation that fought the Boer War for access to gold and diamonds after all.

            World War I was a war of competing Imperial interests. Do you dispute this?

          • Inspector General

            Britain – small home army, large navy. We liked it like that. No problem to you Carl, is it….

          • carl jacobs

            But a small home army applied in an alliance where in would produce the most benefit to British policy, power, and prosperity.

          • bluedog

            If WW1 was a war of competing imperial interests, why did the Germans invade Belgium? As a proxy to secure the Congo? Or as a way round the French defences on their way to Paris? The war took place on two levels, firstly by parties seeking to ensure primacy in Europe, a statement which excludes Britain, and secondly to ensure unfettered access to resources in the rest of the world. On this latter point the British had an interest, shared with the French. Once the Germans were positioned to attack France, posing a direct threat to Britain, we had no option but to fight.

            Where was the British Army deployed in 1914? Mainly in India where a much larger army was British officered. But the British Army per se was very small compared to European armies.

            ‘This is the nation that fought the Boer War for access to gold and diamonds after all.’ All done for the love of British women.

          • carl jacobs

            why did the Germans invade Belgium?

            Because Belgium was in the way. Jack won’t like this but “The strong do what they will. The weak suffer what they must.” He reality of interaction between the nations. It’s a jungle of beasts, red in fang and tooth and claw.

          • CliveM

            It certainly would not have started a war with the continental powers. It didn’t have the army to do so.

            It didn’t want to go to war in 1914 and without the invasion of Belgium it probably would not have done so. To have done so would have destroyed the Liberal government.

          • carl jacobs

            It absolutely would have fought absent the invasion of Belgium. There was no way to avoid it. German victory would have meant the end of the British Empire.

          • Inspector General

            Probably not, but why take the chance…

          • CliveM

            All I can say Carl is we never know. However I don’t agree. Britain was on the verge of civilians war and the Liberal party was hopelessly split on the issue prior to the invasion.

            Anyway I’m off to bed!

          • Inspector General

            The Inspector will join you then {Ahem}

          • CliveM

            There was a majority in the cabinet prior to the invasion of Belgium. Without the agreement of Cabinet it would have Impossible.

          • CliveM

            Wasn’t not was!

          • carl jacobs

            It made the decision politically easy. I’ll grant that. There is no way however that Britain allows France to fight Germany on its own. France would have lost to the catastrophic detriment of Britain.

            Britain maintained its dominance by shifting allegience to balance the strongest power. It used the armies of allies to achieve its objective of a divided Europe. This meant it had to fight if the emerging dominant power started a war. Britain had no choice. It needed to find a way. Belgium turned out to be the way. It would have found another way if necessary.

          • Inspector General

            Britain went to war for treaty reasons, and, on the quiet, to make sure the French didn’t put the white flag up after a few months….

          • carl jacobs

            to make sure the French didn’t put the white flag up after a few months.

            That is the correct reason. You are right in saying that.

          • carl jacobs

            Well then. Let’s hang the Israelis for 1967.

          • Inspector General

            Oh dear, Carl. Go on then, list Germany’s enemies who were so inclined to snuff out this creation from 1870 that it was obliged to pre-empt

          • carl jacobs

            Oh, so it’s not about who first the first shot. It’s about whether you think there was a good reason for preemption. I see. As long as we have that clearly stated.

          • Inspector General

            You come back here! You’re not slipping away that easily….

          • Anton

            Yes indeed.

          • CliveM

            “On 31 July 1914 (18 July by the Julian calendar, then in use in Russia) the Russian empire announced general mobilisation for war. This was three days after Austria-Hungary had declared war on Serbia and a day before Germany declared war on Russia.” Anthony Hayward Historian.

            What Russia had done was to order the army to prepare for possible mobilisation. But critically had not started or ordered troop movements. Early Russian mobilisation is one of the myths Germany perpetrated to justify its actions.

          • bluedog

            Carl, I think we can agree that if Britain had stood aside in 1914, reneging on any Entente Cordiale commitments, implied or otherwise, the Germans would have defeated the French by 1916 at the latest. Assuming continued British neutrality, this would have enabled a German battle fleet to relocate into the French Channel and Atlantic ports. British trade with the Americas and the Indian Empire would have been threatened. More importantly, Britain itself would have been threatened. It is axiomatic to the security of the British Isles that the power on the French Channel coast is at least non-threatening, even if unfriendly. With the benefit of hindsight, entering the Entente Cordiale was probably a mistake, but given the historic rivalry between Britain and France, it may have seemed not much more than a gesture of goodwill at the time.

            Throughout the nineteenth century, Britain and France had achieved an unprecedented degree of co-operation, based on shared interests. They had jointly defeated the Turkish fleet at Navarino, enabling Greece to re-emerge from Ottoman dominion. They had fought the Crimean War to stop Russia over-running the Ottoman Empire and threatening to become a naval power in the eastern Mediterranean. They had collaborated to build the Suez Canal to save weeks of steaming time on the voyage to the East. In the scramble for Africa they had carefully avoided treading on each others toes.

            The defeat of France in 1871 would have come as a profound shock; consequently there would have been a re-appraisal of the implications of Prussian and later, German, power and intentions. If France had become a friendly and unthreatening power, the prospect of an aggressive and expansionary power dislodging the French Republic would have been a very unwelcome development. In that context, defending France made sense, as it would do today.

          • carl jacobs

            I agree, bluedog.

          • Anton

            I’ve dived with snorkel at Navarino and seen what’s left of the sunken Turkish fleet.

          • bluedog

            Amazing!

  • Phil R

    The complete incompetence of the Generals in charge is at last being challenged and we are changing our long held views of this disaster and senseless waste of lives.

    A new narrative seems to be emerging. One that cannot now be challenged by those that were there. ..

    Lions lead by donkeys was the popular view by those that survived.

    They knew the truth of it.

    • Anton

      “Lions led by donkeys” was not a contemporary quote, was later attributed to a German commander, but then appears to have put into his mouth by a British writer.

      “The complete incompetence of the Generals in charge is at last being challenged” does not make clear what view you are taking. I am neither agreeing nor disagreeing with you, just requesting clarification.

    • CliveM

      Was it? It was certainly Lloyd Georges, but he was doing what politicians do and that’s to cover their arse for posterity, by blackening others names.

      At Haig’s funeral , thousands of former soldiers lined the streets, to show respect.

      • Phil R

        All of my Great grandfathers fought in WW1. Two were wounded but none were killed.

        None of their sons fought however.

        They never spoke about it apparently, only to say don’t be a hero. My Grandfather helped in a clinic that specialised successfully in treating gas injuries (with great success).

        Many of the soldiers talked and in Wales at least, Haig was no hero.

  • Dominic Stockford

    War is indeed vile and appalling. But war of defence is necessary – if good men do nothing in the face of oppression and aggression then much evil will be done. God forgive us, every one.

  • Uncle Brian

    Wales 3, Belgium 1. What a performance! Congratulations!

    • dannybhoy

      Absolutely fantastic result UB! Belgium played dirty at times, but little Wales played their socks off!
      The wife and I already support Wales in rugby, and now we find ourselves supporters of their football team.
      It’s the passion, isn’t it?

      • Uncle Brian

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the final turns out to be either Italy or Germany v. Wales. Portugal haven’t been playing all that well, I thought, except for one player, Quaresma. They’ve got a good goalie, though.

        • Pubcrawler

          I hope Wales do to Portugal what they did to Belgium.

          #makeronaldocrybuckets

        • dannybhoy

          I don’t usually follow football these days. More of a business than a sport, with over paid, over pampered players. whose egos are often bigger than their talents..
          Howevvah! When in the field of soccer conflict, arise national teams that work together and play with passion;
          then my interest is aroused…!
          We English used to have teams like that.

  • David

    Seems like Wales has saved the UKs honour after England was thrashed by little Iceland.

    • dannybhoy

      England should be ashamed of themselves. (But I somehow doubt they are).
      Their performance only proved that the best of facilities and ridiculous pay can never match the power of passion and unity.

      • Pubcrawler

        I’m rooting for our Viking cousins, showing that it’s possible to succeed outside the EU.

        • David

          Up the free countries !
          Down with the EU !
          The President of Iceland has sent warm, encouraging words to us urging us to leave the corrupt EU and recognise that life outside will be far better.

        • Anton

          What a saga!

          • Pubcrawler

            They’ll score a couple of Eddas

      • David

        Yes totally.

  • Dreadnaught

    Let’s face it, the England vs Germany Xmas ‘truce’ kickabout was this country’s best performance by far in Europe.

    • Royinsouthwest

      And it did not even go to a penalty shootout!

      • chiefofsinners

        I think you will find it was followed by a four-year-long penalty shootout.

  • len

    Germany lost the two world wars then decided how they must win the peace and regain control of Europe…There are many In Europe who surrendered their democracy and their freedom for the sake of ‘unity’ and gave their authority to those who could not take it by force so they took it by deception.Neither side in the EU referendum gave us the facts regarding ‘in’ or ‘out’ because the truth helped neither case.

  • David

    I have no animus against individual Germans, but it is an indisputable fact that ever since Germany was united as a nation, in the 1870’s, it has set out to dominate the rest of Europe. They failed twice militarily and the EU is nothing less than the political machine for achieving this domination, using the economic tool of the euro. Use of the artificial euro averages out the value of individual national currencies, thereby enriching Germany and impoverishing other countries.
    We must implement the will of the UK’s people and Brexit – fully ! If the Conservative Party fudges it, by electing a Brexit lite leader this will represent a huge betrayal of democracy and the will of the people. If they take this most foolish and arrogant of steps they will be inviting social unrest. The nation will reap a whirlwind.
    First pray to God that wisdom prevails ….. pray hard…..Secondly practical action – Ukip and Vote Leave are ready to restart the battles for hearts and minds ….. there will be no relaxing until we are OUT !

    • Royinsouthwest

      Actually the problem goes back a little further than that to when Bismarck became the dominant political figure in Prussia. His “blood and iron” speech expressed his policies. Victories over Denmark, Austria and France followed even before Germany became a unified nation.

      • David

        Thank you and yes, you old history buff !
        Best wishes !

    • Erik Dahlberg

      You should set this to music. “Now we are free” from gladiator, perhaps “O fortuna” (Orff) or “heart of courage” (Bergersen) would be even cheesier (better). “Deliver us” (Zimmer)… Bismark’s vision of a greater Germany meant the uniting of the German peoples and then expanding in all directions. Austria 1866, Denmark 1848 and 1864, France 1871. The Holy Roman Empire, basically the Habsburg’s, meant Austrian/German domination by whatever means to expand. Croatia, Bohemia, Hungary (Pressburg 1491 meant ownership in 1526) and then inter-marrying to inherit etc. Central Europe has, historically, been an imperial German power. The EU is, as you say and I agree with, that same beast expressed in today’s circumstances.

      • David

        Yes, which we are best out of it. Complete Brexit, leaving only trade and friendship links in place, both benefits the UK for many, many reasons. Also by setting an example we remind those nations still trapped within it, of what freedom offers, thereby showing ourselves to a true friend of our neighbours.

  • grutchyngfysch

    Thou shalt not kill is properly translated thou shalt not murder. The Hebrew is quite clear and there is no implication of absolute pacifism in the commandment. I can understand why somebody might hold this view if they are not aware of that fact but once they are aware I have less sympathy with the making of that view solely on that commandment.

    • Anton

      Exactly. Otherwise God would be contradicting himself in legislating capital punishment in the law of Moses.

      • grutchyngfysch

        Yes – for the sake of precision though, I’d prefer to leave it explicit that God is entitled to make Law for His Creation which He Himself is not bound by since His ways are above ours. You can see something of this in Jesus’ response to Peter over the Temple tax, for example. He certainly won’t contradict Himself though, nor break any covenant He makes with man.

  • The Explorer

    Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘The Parable of the Young Man and the Old’, modifies the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham ignores the proffered ram:

    But the old man would not so, but slew his son
    And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

    Owen’s message is clear: the old took the young’s future. Disgruntled Remainers say the same about the Brexit vote. There was a song from the 60’s with the lines, “It seems that just the young know how, So I ask them listen now.” But when the young had the upper hand, they made a mess of things too. The old had to sort out the disaster of Haight Ashbury.

    Pitting the generations against one another seems to me a denial of original sin. Both generations are flawed. Hope lies with those of each generation who realise the reality of the human condition.

    • Anton

      But the old taught the young and must bear some responsibility. Also the old are placing a growing burden of debt on the young in various ways public and private.

      • The Explorer

        Two issues there: one for which the old are culpable, and one for which they are not.

        1. I’d rephrase your first point. Those of the old charged to teach the young have failed to do so via an education system that has replaced knowledge and thought with feeling.

        2. When the pension age was set at 65, it was calculated that average life expectancy after years as an industrial worker would be 68. It is not really the fault of the old that they have benefited from medical advancement. It is, I agree a huge problem, and unless the old agree to voluntarily terminate themselves at, say, the age of 80 I do not know the solution.

        • dannybhoy

          You first.

          • The Explorer

            Mine might be involuntary.

          • dannybhoy

            Of course.
            I’d be somewhat concerned otherwise…
            I’m hoping for an ‘in my sleep’ or some sort of quick exit. That way my conscience need not be troubled that I am taking up any more time and resources than are necessary…

        • Anton

          Moral education takes place in the home.

          • The Explorer

            Not according to modern education.

          • Anton

            It does, unavoidably. And that’s the trouble. There is more to learning than coming out knowing facts you didn’t know before.

        • Ivan M

          Unfunded liabilities are the norm for all advanced countries that have access to virtually unlimited energy. Energy is the basis of prosperous well-being. Don’t worry about the geezers, they will need them as part of the liabilities. We are in a new and unprecedented era.

      • dannybhoy

        But that’s because we are the baby boomer generation, those born after the WW2. It was inevitable that so many men returning from that awful time of death and destruction would want to reaffirm life.
        Hence you ‘n me..
        Stop trying to project your sense of guilt on us of a similar vintage..

        • Anton

          What makes you think I feel guilt? Proverbs is perfectly clear that one generation teaches the next, and by ‘teach’ I don’t just mean in schoolrooms. Affirming life is a good thing. What the boomers got up to isn’t.

          • dannybhoy

            Pulling your leg re guilt.
            The baby boomer generation produced real advances as well as bad stuff Anton.

          • Anton

            Technologically, without a doubt. Morally, the reverse.

          • dannybhoy

            Morally is always the challenge. We believe there are only two possibilities as to how the cosmos, life and mankind came into being.
            Either an event without motive or meaning (evolution); or a divine act of creation by a self sufficient God.
            The West has rejected the notion of God and Creation, and embraced evolution. Thus no accountability, and so (Western) Man is accountable only to himself.

          • Anton

            Some of us believe that evolution was pre-ordained to come up with us; after all, we perceive meeting our spouses (spice??) as chance events, yet understand that those meetings were actually destined by a higher power, and the principle is the same. But I take your point: there is either meaning and purpose in the universe and in life, or there is not. And to work out the purpose of something you have to look beyond it.

          • dannybhoy

            “yet we understand that those meetings were actually destined by a higher power;”
            Why?
            I don’t believe that. That again is how we live, how we function.
            Evolution pre ordained to come up with man? Again as Christians whatever we believe has to jive with what Scripture tells us. Otherwise large chunks of it become worthless. Including what our Lord Himself believed about origins.
            I most certainly believe scientists can discover stuff because the One who designed it all is reasonable.

          • Anton

            So you DON’T think that meeting your spouse was ordained by God? Even though he has numbered every hair on your head?

            I think you might be misunderstanding me. All I’m saying is that it ill behoves *some* Christians to say that evolution is governed by chance, not by God. Chance is what we ascribe events to when we don’t have the information to know what is going to happen, eg when we don’t know how the balls are going to tumble in the lottery. But God knows. To God there is no such thing as chance. If evolution is wrong, it isn’t knocked over, so far as Christians are concerned, by this particular argument.

          • dannybhoy

            No I think God was extremely kind to us and led us together whilst both were going through divorces..
            Make of that what you will.
            I think God intimately knows everything that’s going on all through the Cosmos and beyond/outside. Nothing is hidden from Him -including the number of hairs on my head.
            I’m not sure though that I believe He’s a micromanager of man’s affairs.
            Colossians 1:15-20

            “7 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

            So to your hypothesis of directed evolution. As I see it, it presents theological problems regarding the origins and nature of man, the Fall and the divinity and mission of Christ Jesus.
            The other thing has to do with science and supernaturalism, and how we have removed God from the picture. Rather like a group of engineers, designers and physicists crowding around a beautiful Bentley car found on a rubbish tip and thoroughly analysing it and writing up their findings; without paying equal diligence to how it got there.,
            That’s not quite what I mean, but it’s along those lines.

          • Anton

            All I’m saying is that it ill behoves *some* Christians to say that evolution is governed by chance, not by God. Chance is what we ascribe events to when we don’t have the information to know what is going to happen, eg when we don’t know how the balls are going to tumble in the lottery. But God knows. To God there is no such thing as chance. If evolution is wrong, it isn’t knocked over, so far as Christians are concerned, by this particular argument.

            We agree that God created man from “the dust of the earth”. The question is how. What the Bible tells us is assumed by some to be incompatible with evolution, and I am merely removing one plank in their argument for incompatibility, namely the argument about chance.

          • Dreadnaught

            Have you ever toyed with the idea that (for the sake of argument) God designed that life should develop and evolve?

          • dannybhoy

            Sorry mate, just seen this.
            The answer is yes of course I have. But then we run into problems because the Scriptures don’t allow us that avenue.
            Especially as regards man as an act of creation. If man developed -with all that implies- he cannot have been special. He was/is then a byproduct of a process.
            As I still see it, God the great Designer built into his basic creation i.e. plants, trees, animals and men the ability to adapt in a changing, restless world influenced by our position in the solar system, the sun, the influence of the moon, the earth’s core and so on.
            When we consider the evil that men do and have done since day one it makes you think “Well, what was the point?” All the killing, the torture, the hunger, the oppression etc. But then again that is what MEN not God has done.
            No,Dreadders I can see why people would want to believe that, but for all the horrible stuff there is so much good and beauty and love and laughter too. I remain a Creationist.

      • Ivan M

        All these debts can be sorted out by keeping the machinery of the economy running. Bernanke was right, liquidity is the key to keep the machine running, once it is primed.

        • Anton

          It is, alas, far more complex than that. Keep monetising the debt like that and, when the velocity of money goes up again, as is inevitable eventually, all of that extra money that has been printed will trigger an inflation that is not controlled but uncontrolled.

          • Ivan M

            I see your point. But where is that extra money? It seems to be in the innards of the banking system, never to see the light of day.

          • Anton

            Banks and wealth-creating enterprises have both used some of it to pay off some debt, but a lot is still waiting – just where you said it is – to light the blue touch paper. Governments want controlled inflation, to reduce the real value of their debt (they don’t care about responsible savers), but nobody wants uncontrolled inflation. That is what we will get, though, perhaps after a period of deflation. One followed by the other is enough to wreck most people who don’t have a secure realtime income stream. Look what it led to in interwar Germany! I am deeply concerned.

          • Ivan M

            The key is cheap energy. Fusion power as a matter of utmost urgency or hydrate mining. Be free of the Russians, Arabs and the future Levantine gas fields off the Israeli coast.

          • Anton

            Cheap energy is great at furthering industry and wealth creation, and I could talk for hours about fusion power. (I have done, having lectured at the JET Project near Abingdon.) Economic growth is the best way out of debt – better than the other alternatives of default or inflation – but there is still a problem with our monetary policy, and we and Germany are still hobbling ourselves with impossibly expensive energy from renewables that is unreliable and unstorable (and unnecessary, given that it is not getting warmer even as carbon dioxide levels continue to rise).

          • Ivan M

            The UK for one reason or another missed out on the semiconductor and LCD based growth industries. Look to the future. Semicon and LCD giants will or have succumbed to the law of diminishing returns made effective by worldwide competition. Growth is plateauing out as few or no new technologies hold any promise for large scale industries.

          • Anton

            Biotech research is expensive and needs large companies to do it, likewise self-driving cars etc. But I’m not really disagreeing with you.

          • dannybhoy

            Surely we can’t keep on growing our economies? Wouldn’t that then require continued or expanding consumerism, leading to more materialism. This is turn encouraging yet more self indulgence, a morally and socially corruptive force.

            God said “Subdue the earth” and “Go forth and multiply”
            There is no way we can limit population growth without coercion, so the struggle for space, water and resources will continue.
            http://www.alive.com/health/we-are-stewards-of-this-earth/

          • Anton

            People appear not to breed huge families where they believe the infant/child mortality rate is small; population growth is not an issue.Exactly why Malthus was wrong is complex and at least partly empirical, but it does seem to be the case. As for economic growth, it does not necessarily mean ever more people living in ever bigger houses, but in better houses with smarter gadgets, better medical care etc. Don’t get hung up on a 19th century model of what “economic growth” means.

          • dannybhoy

            “People appear not to breed huge families where they believe the
            infant/child mortality rate is small; population growth is not an issue.”
            It is an issue for some groups Anton. Some believe it is their duty to have big families for religious or economic reasons.
            “As for economic growth, it does not necessarily mean ever more people
            living in ever bigger houses, but in better houses with smarter gadgets,
            better medical care etc.”
            But what would people with better health through better medical care do with themselves Anton? The very human desire to show social status through possessions and influence remains very powerful.

          • Anton

            That’s the meaning-of-life question and far from the one I was addressing!

          • dannybhoy

            But that impacts on how we live our lives and what we need to make them comfortable and worthwhile, hence influencing economic growth, no?
            “Small is Beautiful” EF Schumacher.

          • Anton

            I’m not on for a wider discussion in which the very question itself isn’t clear. All I’m saying is that economic growth is not synonymous with raping the earth to death. Nanotechnology can greatly improve our lives – making us wealthy in real terms – with little environmental destruction, certainly relative to 19th century wealth creation.

          • Ivan M

            Malthus came up short due to the advances in science and technology, the Industrial Revolution. As an explanation of population growth and the struggles that accompany it, his insights are unparalleled.

          • Anton

            He was a deep thinker who has been attacked unjustly by people who say he was advocating forcible population control when he was merely stating what uncontrolled population growth would lead to. But the fact remains that it doesn’t work out in practice like his scenario insists. Population pressure has not been a limiting or a decisive factor in the rise and fall of many civilisations. Quite why this is, I’m not sure, but it is a fact and one he can’t explain.

          • Royinsouthwest

            Growth in the economy can also serve other ends. How can we afford to take advantage of advances in the medical sciences unless our economy grows? That is just one example of why it should grow. Do you want progress in science and technology to grind to a halt?

    • Ivan M

      It seems to me that European arrogance did them in. Barbed wire concentration camps in the Boer War, Hideous atrocities in Namibia, Congolese paid with their blood for rubber. Easy victories over the black, brown and yellow peoples made the Europeans complacent about war.

      • Anton

        No, that is true of the Brits, but the Germans and French had fought the Franco-Prussian War 34 years earlier and knew that war between technologically advanced nations was potentially horrendous.

        • Ivan M

          Yes that is a bummer. I suppose we have to fall back on full national mobilization as the primary cause of the unprecedented casualty levels.

          • Uncle Brian

            Conscription had come into force in the UK a few months earlier, in March 1916, under Asquith’s Military Service Act. But there were no British conscripts in the Battle of the Somme. They were all volunteers, mainly from Kitchener’s so-called “New Army”.

          • Ivan M

            For the men and boys of that era, their sense of honour made it impossible to refuse service. The great Eddington who as a pacifist, was only barely tolerated in his University on the grounds that he should be exempted, so as to allow him to lead the major scientific expedition to test Einstein’s theories.

          • Uncle Brian

            Certainly the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who responded to Kitchener’s appeal far exceeded his expectations. But honour and peer pressure weren’t the only explanations. Some of the younger volunteers were no doubt motivated by the prospects of adventure and travel, while many more, of all ages, were industrial workers, miners, or unemployed who saw the Army as a means of escape from their dismal conditions. At that time boys often left school as young as 13, to start work in a local factory, mine or mill for a starting wage of 5 shillings or less, for a fifty- or sixty-hour week.

            But you seem to be implying that the 1916 Military Service Act made no difference, because everyone aged 18 and above who was fit enough to be accepted as a volunteer had already enlisted and there was no one left to be conscripted. Is that what you’re saying?

          • Terry Mushroom

            Forty or so years ago on 11 November, wearing a poppy, I knocked on a door in Luton by mistake. An old man answered. Plainly lonely, He invited me in, despite my error. I had the time, so I went in. He told me he had fought on the Somme.

            As the memories came back, he got angrier and angrier at what he called the utter pointless waste of life. And what he called the absolute incompetence and stupidity of the generals and politicians. He was filled with contempt for the people he called “the profiteers”. He then surprised me by saying he’d been at the Luton mutiny in 1919. “I knew you’d never heard of it,” he said. “They tried to hush it up.”

            According to him, the final spark was the Mayor giving a “death or glory” speech to the assembled troops at the Victory Parade. Apparently the Mayor didn’t spot that the troops resented such a speech from a man who plainly hadn’t fought. The troops rioted and took the Town Hall. Google Luton Mutiny 1919 for more.

            What struck me was that my story teller was no rabid bearded peacenik. He volunteered in WW2. Like so many, he’d probably not spoken much if anything about his experiences before. For some reason, my poppy touched a nerve and it all came pouring out. I was transfixed by someone who seemed to be Everyman.

          • Uncle Brian

            My dad’s scorn for the politicians and the generals was a bit like that, though he talked about them sarcastically rather than in anger. Remembrance Day was always an important date for him. He was too young to have fought in the battle of the Somme but his unit was shipped to France the following year and he was eventually taken prisoner on the Chemin des Dames. He spent two years in German POW camps in places that he would have liked to revisit many years later, after the Second World War, but that was impossible because both places were in what had then become Communist East Germany.

          • dannybhoy

            Go see the conditions prevalent in workhouses at the time. Certainly some would have seen it as an escape. But for me the biggest factors remain social expectation and obedience to authority.

          • Old Nick

            My father (then a medical student of 21) was so keen to join up in 1914 that when he did not hear from the first regiment he had volunteered for he joined another one.

          • Ivan M

            Sorry UB, I did not see this. From potted reading, I gather that it was seen as an irredeemable disgrace to avoid service. One would have had an unimpeachable reason to do so. I was not aware of the Military Service Act.

          • Old Nick

            Which has not stopped the BBC’s specious “Home Front” in its most recent episodes being largely about the (in fact tiny) minority who tried to avoid service. Specious because the BBC has decided that with that generation safely dead it can appropriate the Great War and put its spin onto the motives of the participants.

          • carl jacobs

            And well he should have been barely tolerated if tolerated at all. Pacifism is no virtue. The dominant characteristic of the pacifist is not his high principle but his manifest physical safety. He disguises his most naked of self-interests as a display of moral courage.

            Pacifism is an indulgence of the protected. Let them once apply pacifism to the concept of Law Enforcement and I will take them seriously. But this they will never do. They understand quite well the threat of the criminal and they demand the state apply managed violence in response. That hypocrisy is their unmasking.

          • IanCad

            We’ve been here before Carl, and I disagree with you.

          • carl jacobs

            My father was a machine gunner in France in the summer of 1944. One day a German machine gunner happened to notice him and decided to make him a personal project. My father spent some time dodging bullets by crawling in a depression in the mud left by a passing truck. The event culminated when my father knew he would have to descend an open hill knowing full well a German machine gunner was watching for him personally. He slid down that hill through tall grass while he felt bullets pass through the cloth of his pants. He said the only reason he survived that day was because the Germans didn’t use tracer rounds. It was by his judgment the closest he came to death. And that included the time the artillery shell detonated in the tree above his head.

            Meanwhile, a pacifist was somewhere choosing the color of socks he would wear that day.

            Where is the equivalence?

          • IanCad

            Quite likely the pacifist was on the same field of battle rescuing injured soldiers.
            Your father was a brave man.

          • carl jacobs

            No, quite likely he wasn’t. He was probably in jail. You can’t qualify your duties like that. And even medics will pick up a rifle and fight in an emergency.

            These days, he just doesn’t volunteer. That’s why you don’t hear so much about pacifism anymore. It isn’t required to avoid service.

          • IanCad

            Some pacifists – a minority – would not perform humanitarian duties and did instead choose incarceration. At least you must grant them the courage of their convictions. Jail was not fun.
            If society becomes so poor as to disallow dissent it is but a step away from totalitarianism.

          • carl jacobs

            They eventually got out of jail, didn’t they. The assistant gunner who was standing next to my dad when that artillery shell detonated in the tree … he didn’t come back. He’s still in France.

            I grant them nothing but a white feather. You don’t win wars by performing humanitarian service. Someone has to take the responsibility to kill. Why are they so special that they should get to lay down that responsibility knowing full well that another will have to pick it up for them?

          • IanCad

            A reluctant soldier will not be a good soldier. The many injured warriors rescued by the brave medics lived to fight another day.

          • carl jacobs

            A reluctant soldier is the only kind of soldier. He’ll do what he must. He’ll do it for the guy next him. He’d rather die than fail his brother.

          • IanCad

            Not when they’re on the battlefield they’re not. Gung-Ho is the order of the day – or at least it’d better be.

          • carl jacobs

            Gung-ho dies on the battlefield and rather quickly. Unit cohesion is everything once there is death in the air. A soldier doesn’t fight for God or country or flag or cause or the girl back home. He fights for his brother. He does his job, he does what is asked of him, and he maintains faith with the guy next to him. He’s not a special kind of man. He’s an ordinary man told to do and endure horrible things.

            The pacifist says “I won’t do those horrible things. I’m too good for that.” No, he’s not. He just doesn’t want the responsibility.

          • IanCad

            Your first paragraph has the right of it. Militarily, disciplinarly(!?) ethically; Yes!
            You do not however have a window into the soul of the pacifist. With him it may, or not, be a rejection of responsibility, neither would it be likely that he feels too good. More like a man of principle – right or wrong – who makes a choice that may condemn him to scorn and ridicule. These types are few and far between and I believe a just and civil society has to indulge those who tread that path.

          • carl jacobs

            I don’t need a window into his soul to know he is shirking a responsibility to the detriment of another. A citizen has responsibilities to the state. He can’t just claim special privilege of conscience in order to lay them aside. He’s responsible to carry the burden of risk just like everyone else. He’s responsible to carry the burden of killing just like everyone else. There is no moral dispensation here. He doesn’t have the right to supercede lawful authority unless that authority has made itself unlawful by exceeding its remit. There is no question about the authority of a state to make war and to compel its citizens to fight. The pacifist has no moral ground upon which to stand.

            He can ask. In a very few cases of historical religious scruple, I might relent. He has no right to demand however. He has no standing to claim supremacy of conscience over the soldier and thus relieve himself of unwanted responsibility. I’d put him in ranks and make him fight. If he refused, I would punish him according to military justice. Severely.

          • IanCad

            Well, as I stated in my first reply – I disagree with you.

          • magnolia

            There are too few pacifists not too many. If everyone was mature and realised what a truly inane concept it is to maim and torture and kill their fellow man to try to avoid some lesser evil of a misperceived size then war would cease and diplomacy be a more practised and valued art, and scientific endeavour not be snaffled by warmongers but used for peace and prosperity.

          • carl jacobs

            And if everyone had a unicorn, we could all make wishes.

          • Ivan M

            Pacifists turned out to be right in WWI.

          • The Explorer

            A pacifist who opposes all wars will be right once in a while; just as a stopped clock will be right twice in every twenty-four hours.

          • Ivan M

            They got the big one, Explorer. Much like a trader who loses small on most trades, but cleans out on the big move.

          • The Explorer

            Interestingly, some German militarists were pacifists in regard to WW1. War was fine, but it had to be Europe versus the rest. World War One was Europe’s suicide.

          • Anton

            The European nations were just waiting for Turkey’s empire to crumble. Today…

          • carl jacobs

            You are deliberately conflating pacifism with prudence. A pacifist doesn’t make prudential decisions. He declares himself right by fiat regardless of outcome.

            If pacifism had succeeded in Britain but failed in Germany, would the pacifists in Britain still have been right?

          • Anton

            Ancient Israel had a volunteer army under the Law of Moses – Deuteronomy 20:8. NB The conscription (ie, draft) debate, to which this comment is a contribution, is not the same as the pacifism debate, in which I agree with you.

  • IanCad

    If, as it seems, most of us accept that WW1 was, essentially, a war of Treaties, compounded by the German penchant toward paranoia; Then let us be doubly grateful that we have made the first steps towards disentangling ourselves from the EU.
    Our nation has in the past been considered great. Probably its zenith was in the mid-1800’s, and from that period there are lessons to be remembered, particularly, Lord Palmerston’s famous dictum on foreign policy:
    “We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow”

  • Alison Bailey Castellina

    At a course – on Socratic debate (in relation to the Gospel) yesterday – I mentioned “The Somme” (i.e.two world wars) as the main reason for the serious loss of faith in the UK over the last 100 years. The lecturer, a specialist on tactics said that “One should never launch a full frontal attack on a superior force in an entrenched position”, either in war, or argument. As far as I I understand it, the British Generals did not realise, at that point, how superior the Germans were (Churchill said they were insuperable in 1916) or how entrenched and dug in. Did the Generals have any alternative, under acute political pressure? Churchill said that The Somme was part of the painful attrition that finally won the war. Over half a million Germans have no grave on the Somme – it is well worth visiting, to appreciate what freedom in Europe has cost.

    • Anton

      The problem is that the Germans were satisfied with the status quo on the Western Front. They had only ever invaded France to prevent France hitting them in the rear while they fought for their real objectives to the east. (France had a mutual defence pact against Germany with Russia.) So they could throw up a deep wall of impenetrable barbed wire and defend it fro their trenches, whereas the French, reasonably, wanted their lost territory back. To do that, they – and their allies, the British – had to attack.

    • dannybhoy

      “Over half a million Germans have no grave on the Somme”
      They were well entrenched, they mowed down the French and Britons in their thousands with maxim guns. They ultimately lost and their remains lie scattered and buried.
      What a stupid war.

  • Merchantman

    One of my earliest memories is of the gardener who was a veteran of WW1. On high days and holidays he would turn out in his blazer. I cant remember much concerning our chats but they were the wisdom of an ordinary British soldier. They and the following generation have left their mark and the present young would do well to stop whingeing and get on with it.

    • IanCad

      What was curious to me – in retrospect – when growing up – was that “The War” nearly always meant WW1. I had a stepfather who was a captain of cavalry in the last year of the war. He spoke little of it; as did many other veterans I remember who led lives of dignified ordinariness.
      I have to wonder whether their reticence was not perhaps a form of guilt for surviving?
      Some evidence for that could be gleaned from another relative’s father who was very badly injured in WW2; He received an MC for his action. However in all the eight months of hospitalization, his parents, who lived nearby, never once visited him as they didn’t think it proper to do so when many other men in his battalion died. He is still alive and told the tale to me.

      • dannybhoy

        That survivor’s guilt seems to be a common thing Ian, Certainly concentration camp survivors, so I would imagine too soldiers for various reasons.

        • IanCad

          I wonder if it’s more of a British thing Danny. My wife – an American – also knows the subject Major and holds it as prima facie evidence that we Brits are stark, staring mad. Her dismal assessment was reinforced last year during the Waterloo bicentenary.
          A military historian from a regiment in the battle was interviewed on the BBC. He told us that his regiment had a “wonderful” record at the battle. In the morning roll call three hundred answered up; at the evening muster only thirty did.(these figures are not precise but the proportions are fairly close.)
          Speaking for myself; I don’t think I’d feel guilty for surviving,

          • Anton

            Ha! As General Patton said, “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for HIS country.”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_S._Patton%27s_speech_to_the_Third_Army

            Great speech and George C Scott does it very well in the film standing before a huge US flag:

          • Dreadnaught

            So that was where Trumpton found the basis of the comment he made about McCain… makes sense now why he thought it ok to insult veterans.

          • Ivan M

            When said veteran transformed five hours of combat mission into a career inveighing other US servicemen into endless wars he deserves all that contempt. McCain could not get at the Commies who tortured him, so he went around the world looking for dragons. See the bloody bugger hobnobbing with terrorists in Libya and Syria. He was such an honourable man, that he promptly ditched his wife who walked with a limp after an accident for a shiny new trophy wife to grease the skids up, after his return from ‘Nam. Must have had something to do with his father, the other McCain responsible for whitewashing the Liberty massacre. As Putin implied all those years of captivity must have done something to his head.
            God looks after little children and the USA. The world dodged a bullet when Obama beat this crazy coot and the Alaskan bimbo,

          • carl jacobs

            McCain flew 23 combat missions before he was shot down and spent over five years as a POW in Hanoi. He refused an offer of early release. I don’t know where your “five hours” comes from. Have you ever been in the military?

            For the record, the Liberty whitewash came from much higher up than a Navy Admiral. Much. Higher. Up.

          • Ivan M

            Very sorry, I stand corrected on his flying hours.

          • carl jacobs

            See, this is why I asked if you served. A former combat veteran is going to have considerably more credibility when it comes to commiting soldiers to war. Why? Because he has been there and he knows the cost in a visceral and not just an abstract sense. He won’t break faith. A soldier will know this.

            If McCain had been elected, Iraq wouldn’t have gone to sh*t like it did. Your psychologizing about McCain chasing surrogate Commies so much dust in the wind. You are right about his wife, though.

          • Ivan M

            See Carl, I don’t give much credence to your judgement simply because of your service. You know we’ve been round this block before.

          • carl jacobs

            I see. I’ll take that as a “No” then. In fact I think I have asked you this before, and you said something about how you would have punched your sergeant, and I laughed. But I might have mixed you up with someone else.

          • Ivan M

            Oh sure…

          • dannybhoy

            That was a good film, and he was a great actor.

          • Anton

            Pretty good playing a similar role in Dr Strangelove too.

          • Ivan M

            Gen Patton was considered about average by the Germans.

          • David Harkness

            Nope, they rated one German soldiers as being worth three British or American, and worth five Russian. Of the allies, they rated New Zealanders and Australians as the best. Yes they thought little of Patton, and thought month too cautious.

          • Ivan M

            I am quoting a book from the fifties. I recall it very clearly since it runs counter to the myth of “cheese eating surrender monkeys.”

          • David Harkness

            Ah, OK. I was referring to studies done by the Germans in WW2. Being the methodical race that they are, they conducted numerous studies on the conduct of the war. Given that they mentioned ANZACs the study would have been post the fall of France, IIRC correctly the only place that the Germans would have encountered ANZACs would have been in the desert from 1941. Read Deighton’s book on Blitzkrieg, He certainly quotes some French units as ‘fighting like tigers’ and others that ran away on the strength of rumour, other French units fought to the end to protect the evacuation beaches at Dunkirk. That said I am not aware of any study that rated French soldiers as the best on the allied side. I will have a poke around to see if I can find what you referred to, would make interesting reading. Thanks

          • Ivan M

            IIRC it was a book of essays on aspects of the war as seen by German middle-ranking(?) officers, a paperback title, from one of the publishers that are hardly heard from these days, such as Arrow(?).

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Isn’t that phrase from the Monty Python lot?

            Over the decades, the commediati have filled our media with snotty sneers at Continental Europeans, and then turn round and insult us Islanders for expressing our feeling of Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn — We want to remain what we are — which happens to be the national motto of Luxembourg.

          • Anton

            It’s from The Simpsons.

          • IanCad

            The French get a bad rap. Rather disgusting in my book.

          • carl jacobs

            The Battle of France started on 10 May. It was effectively over by 14 May even though the fighting went on until the middle of June. The French then made a separate peace, and offered the Germans one of the easiest occupations of the war. So where does France get a bad rap?

            France should have been grouped with Ireland after the war.

          • IanCad

            Carl; The French Gov. made the peace. The French soldiers fought heroically to protect the British at the evacuation of Dunkirk and suffered horrendous casualties.
            Then there was Verdun. And Waterloo. Don’t diss the Frogs.

          • carl jacobs

            It was France that demanded Germany be crippled, impoverished, and embittered. It was France that didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to enforce its own structures. It was France that saw Gov’t after Gov’t after Gov’t collapse while Germany rearmed. It was France that hid behind its useless half-wall when the entire German army was in Poland. It was the French Army – that same Army for which Winston Churchill had once given thanks to God in Parliament – that utterly collapsed within five days. After Germany, no country deserves more blame for WWII than France. Germany served that war on a French platter. The handmaid of German aggression was French incompetence, and the two together almost ended Western civilization.

            I remember reading a story in “To Lose a Battle” by Alistair Horne about a French mayor demanding that French soldiers not form a line of battle in his town lest the Germans destroy it. One shakes his head…

          • IanCad

            Yes! Yes! Yes! But the French soldier – Aaaah, there’s a man.

          • carl jacobs

            Like Marshall Petain?

          • IanCad

            A man does not necessarily retain the sturdy character he once had. The Petain of WW1 degenerated to a shadow of his old self during WW2 and should have been shot. Such deterioration does not confine itself to the French.
            Quick tale. Several years ago I built and sold a house to one – Harold. A veteran pilot of the Korean War who pioneered the use of jets in carrier operations. The cream of the cream. The escrow closed just under a week before my wife and I returned from a visit to the UK. This was expected and the keys were left in a pre-arranged place. We had not returned for more than ten minutes when Harold called us. No water! OK! it was just around the corner so I went there straight away. In the garage was a red handle clearly labeled “Off” with the handle in that position. There was another marker “On” just as prominent. I enquired as to why he had not turned the handle to the other position. He responded that he was a cautious man who was reluctant to do anything if he wasn’t sure what would happen.
            I had to say to him. ‘Harold, that is not the attitude that built this great land.”

          • Ivan M

            You know that there were two France, ever since the Revolution.

          • carl jacobs

            An Imperial France and a Revolutionary France? A religious France and a Secular France? A bourgeoisie France and a Socialist France? I don’t know what you are referring to.

          • Ivan M

            Exactly. They were a divided country. Thus one will be asking for massive reparations, while the other would have got on by.

          • Anton

            Carl, please see my replies to Ivan’s strange comments above and below before replying to this, but what on earth should have been done with Germany after WW1? Either less or more than was done is clear, but what and how? I’m not sure of the answer myself.

          • carl jacobs

            I don’t have a good answer either. Seems strange though that Germany was treated better after WWII than after WWI. I suppose the emerging Russian threat was to do with that. But if you are going to make them into an embittered implacable enemy, you had better be willing to keep them prostrate on the ground.

          • Anton

            It had to be more than just giving Alsace and Lorraine back to France. WW1 was an existential struggle. The problem was that only the strong Germany that France dreaded could afford the financial reparation it demanded. Unlike France, though, Germany was a federation less than a lifetime old and perhaps it should have been broken up again. Plenty of Germans from other States than Prussia would not have been delighted at their taste of Prussian leadership by 1918, while appropriate trade deals with the Allies and division of industries (as the Soviets did with Eastern European countries after WW2) could have kept it divided.

          • Anton

            Ivan is speaking specifically about World War 2. The assessment he quotes, if accurate, can only refer to the Free French who were given sanctuary and arms in Britain and entered the Allied war effort. It is not credible that the Germans assessed the French as fighting well in 1940.

          • Ivan M

            I used the word soldiery with care.
            Losing generals are never revered. It was a close run thing.

          • Anton

            No, the French over-relied on the Maginot line and when it was bypassed they were stuffed. The aim of the Maginot line was so as not to have to fight.

          • Uncle Brian

            … And Mers El Khebir!

          • carl jacobs

            Heh.

          • Ivan M

            The Italians sacrificed themselves needlessly against the Austrians in the name of nationalism.

          • Anton

            The Italians actually had a pact with the Austrians in place prior to the start of World War 1, known as the Triple Alliance (it included Germany too), but they opportunistically tore it up when the war started and declared themselves against Austria, intending to win some border territory (which they did, eg Trieste). You use some strange phrases, for example “the Italians sacrificed themselves needlessly… in the name of nationalism”. Read: “the Italians sacrificed themselves needlessly… in the name of Italy”. I have little sympathy with a nation that tears up its alliances when war actually breaks out.

          • Anton

            This assessment, if accurate, presumably refers to the Free French who were given sanctuary and arms in Britain and entered the Allied war effort. It is not credible that the Germans assessed the French as fighting well in 1940.

          • Ivan M

            They had a run of bad luck for which we should blame God. The Germans were luckier. Gamelin had no reserves once the main forces had been bypassed. The strategy seems to have been an immediate in place counterattack so that the war is fought in Germany instead of France. In the event they lost close to 100,000 men in thee weeks. Hardly the sign of an army unwilling to fight. When the war came into France proper, old Petain wanted to spare his countrymen. Without the Russians the French would have bled white. JV Stalin over in Moscow was settling down to the long anticipated war of the imperialists, heralding the next phase of the World Revolution, when he could march in and pick up the pieces.

          • CliveM

            “They had a run of bad luck for which we should blame God.”

            If by that you mean, absolute, bollocking, incompetence then you would be right. Just one simple example, the French Gènèrals refused to use radio. Result every time they sent out orders, by the time the orders arrived, the French Army was somewhere else.

          • Ivan M

            …and backward communications.

          • Anton

            You are contradicting yourself. You say they would have fought hard had the battle been fought in Germany but they deliberately fought less hard while it was in France – and therefore lost. This argument is incoherent. If it were true, the French should have fought all the harder to get the battle off their territory and onto Germany territory. Anyway, everybody fights harder to push someone off his own territory. The French relied totally on a single defensive line rather than the obviously necessary defence in depth, and even that line was easily bypassed via the Ardennes. Why was this? Because they were never serious. They had had the stuffing knocked out of them by WW1. Lord Clark, the art critic who gave us the ‘Civilisation’ TV series in the 1960s, was in Paris shortly before the Germans came and said it was obvious from the atmosphere that the French were not going to fight seriously this time. I have a great deal of sympathy with them for their ghastly WW1 experience, but little for their WW2. Don’t blame it on God.

          • carl jacobs

            In fact, the French never planned to fight in France. They wanted to fight in Belgium to avoid destruction in France. The French were going to sacrifice Belgium to the war. In fact, the entire French plan depended on the Germans doing exactly what they were expected to do. Which included fighting the war as they had in 1914.

          • carl jacobs

            You are saying that a lack of a Strategic Reserve is an act of God? That must surely be a profound revelation to the faculty at the Army War College.

          • Anton

            In which war?

          • Ivan M

            Second WW.

          • carl jacobs

            Whose goddam boot was on whose goddam throat at the end of the war? War isn’t measured by such meaningless idiocies.

          • Ivan M

            Hey relax man. That was a long time ago.

          • Anton

            You brought it up.

          • dannybhoy

            The British military have always celebrated ‘glorious failures’
            Depends on the circumstances of your survival. don’t you think?
            If for example someone somehow saved your life but lost his own =a possibility of guilt; depending on what kind of temperament you possess.
            There is for example ‘the mob mentality’, the fear of letting your group down, many things.
            We can’t really know, but it does seem to me as a Christian if I don’t know what I’d do, I can’t judge another.
            That was the tragedy of the ‘cowards shot for desertion.’
            In other circumstances we might offer counsel and therapy. In a battle situation you can’t afford to show compassion lest it spreads..

    • carl jacobs

      There is a curious phenomenon these days. The western intellectual world is now replete with humanitarian warriors. They survey the world and see atrocity upon outrage and contemplate war as the necessary response. There is hardly a theater in which they would not intervene to protect the vulnerable. They thunder about the dead in Rwanda. They point to the chaos in Sudan and the DRC and Syria and ask “Why don’t we do something about this?” And yet their statements always use the “Royal we”. These individual populate classes on International Relations. They write dissertations about UN armies and the Responsibility to Protect. They talk about emerging norms and international obligations. But they don’t join the military. They would never even think of doing so. And they likely don’t know anyone who has.

      The generations since the war have largely been feted and pampered and protected. They have been asked to carry nothing. I wonder if because of this they look backwards and hold their manhood cheap as a result. And so now they see an opportunity for heroism, but they don’t have the fortitude to actually volunteer and participate. So they seek after vicarious heroism. They see a humanitarian need and would dispatch the army in response. They participate by being the moral conscience of the nation. Thus they glorify themselves in their virtue for having the moral courage to act, but they avoid the bullets and the blood and the death. They attach themselves to the soldier like a parasite, and think “Now I am worthy to face those who went before.”

      It’s a generation that thinks highly of itself without ever having done anything to deserve the accolades. But don’t tell them that.

      • Ivan M

        There are some who put themselves in harm’s way. They get scant thanks from either their detractors or those whom they sought to help, as they are raped or bludgeoned to death.

        • Anton

          Makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep

          Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap…

          Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? ”

          But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll.

          Rudyard Kipling

      • Anton

        It’s not a new phenomenon, Carl. Look at the counter-productive League of Nations which was influential in the 1930s having exactly the same mentality.

        • carl jacobs

          The League was a naïve attempt by nations that crashed on the rocks of Realpolitik. It existed to control decisions on the national level. What I am talking about is individual and personal.

      • bluedog

        An excellent post, and so true. Written by one whose country may soon be ruled by the wife of a draft dodger, making it easy to understand the clarity of view.

        In the British context, one reads that Tony Blair is suddenly immune to criminal sanction for anything done during the Iraq War, but those he ordered to fight are not. Much the same thing, but exposes the gulf between the ruling elite and the ruled in a very dangerous form. No wonder the masses voted for Brexit, they were protesting about privilege they could read about and see on TV but never enjoy.

      • David

        “But don’t tell them that”
        Why not ?
        I suggest that we prick their bubble….

  • Dreadnaught

    The aforementioned dead would be spinning in their graves or wherever they are laying to think that their sacrifice should mean as little as this proposed act of stupidity implies.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2853638/Koran-read-Prince-Charles-coronation-says-bishop-Critics-attack-proposal-accuse-Church-England-losing-confidence-traditions.html

    nb No atheists were harmed or involved in this act of CoE self-destruction.

    • dannybhoy

      What an idiot. Turn it around and see if a Christian would be allowed to read a passage from the Bible at a Muslim coronation or ceremony.
      These guys are dying spiritually as well as physically.

      • David

        The plant grows from its roots, where healthy growth is to be found. But you are right, the top branches have been exposed to so much alternative “truth” that most are quite dead.

        • IrishNeanderthal

          In one of the episodes of Melvyn Bragg’s Who’s Afraid of the Ten Commandments?, I observed even Lord Ahmed screwing up his face in disgust at Richard Harries’s lack of belief.

          • David

            Fortunately he’s retired but sadly most of the bishops are worse than useless.

          • Dreadnaught

            Like it or not Muslims hold the high ground when it comes to promoting their religion.
            Far too many concessions have been given away now to stop the inevitable may be a hundred years or so down the line.
            We and Europe have thrown away our cultures and birthright through incompetence, fear and lack of courage to resist a largely non-violent invasion of our traditional way of life.
            The Churchmen and politicians who have never researched the history or content of the Islamic record from conception are left only to name calling patriotism a hate crime.
            May they all rot in Hell, if that is what they believe exists – they have betrayed this Country and condemned our grandchildren to make what they can in this diminished castrated nation.

          • David

            Well I agree with part of the trajectory that you outline, the past segment, but I consider that your future extension of it, whilst not under-estimating the hard road ahead, is far too pessimistic.
            I believe that the high water mark, of the PC destruction of western civilization, has been reached, and that with effort and vision from all the various pro-western groups in society, we can reclaim the ground lost, and more.
            This referendum shows that the common man has seen through the vacuous utterings of the global destructionists, in all their various guises, and with hope, work, and certainly in my case, faith, we can rebuild. Even my left-wing friends are muttering about the appalling bias of the BBC and other anti-western MS media. Rebellions are rising all over Europe.
            In short, I say, cheer up, and work hard for a better way forward. As that well known Chinese proverb has it, “the coldest minute is just before the new dawn”.

          • Dreadnaught

            David I am not personally affected by Islam but you only have to look at how Islam has subsumed every culture it has conquered or settled into. It is relentless and is perfectly clear in its philosophy how this is to be achieved.
            We have allowed it in our country assuming it is a benign religion that will sit happily amongst others – that is not how Islam works and the Churches in particular have been totally complicit in rolling out the red carpet and the Government set on a permanent course of appeasement for global political interests.

          • David

            I am not disagreeing, but am reluctant to explore that point on this thread.

        • Merchantman

          Seems like we are at melt down at the top of the C of E.
          Harries should be put out to pasture pronto.

    • sarky

      What?? You mean Lord Harries isn’t an atheist?

    • Lord Harries is bonkers!

    • David

      The former Bishop of Oxford is exceedingly liberal. I suspect few hang on his every word. Some years ago, before Islamic terrorism surfaced, Prince Charles naively floated the suggestion of using the title “Defender of the faiths”. But he rowed back from that to the traditional “Defender of the faith”, once the dangerous and intolerant face of Islam showed itself.

      • Anton

        Charles preferred “Defender of faith” without the definite article as I recall. But I agree that he is no longer on for it, unlike this bishop with his absurd views. What is distressing is his CV – just about every award that the CoE could bestow. Its hierarchy is worse – far worse – than useless.

        Harries said this in 2014, by the way; it’s not news.

        • David

          Good points.

    • The Explorer

      There should, presumably, also be readings from the ‘Bhagavid Gita’, the ‘Adi Granth’, the Talmud, the Pali Canon and the Catholic Catechism; so that Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, Buddhists and Poles (who are said to be twitchy at the moment) also feel embraced by the Nation.

      The main problem is the order in which they should be read. Lord Harries suggests the Qura’an should open proceedings, and while that may suit a man well trained in dhimmitude, it does not sit easily with the equality of multiculturalism. I propose simultaneous readings: timed to begin and end at exactly the same moment.

      • Ivan M

        The Communist Manifesto should take precedence and render all others superfluous.

  • len

    Many of our UK youth are extremely angry (as is Nicola sturgeon) that they have been dragged’ kicking and screaming ‘out of the European Union.
    What of these ‘remainers’?. Is any price worth paying for the sense of security(however false) to be part of an undemocratic power system based in Europe?.
    It would seem that many are willing to sell their souls for such a pitiful return and have turned their backs on their freedom which was gained and maintained at the cost of countless lives.

    • magnolia

      They have thought it through much less than they are willing to admit, and have largely relied on the media for information. Maybe “sell[ing] their souls is a bit harsh? They don’t really know what they did.

      There are elements of the media however who know exactly to whom they sold out and pretty clearly why. They should be held to account for the distortions they knowingly put out.

    • Anton

      They should be grateful when we return to pounds, shillings and pence, feet and inches, furlongs, chains and roods.

      • IanCad

        You have absolutely no idea how exercised I am over metrication. It is absolutely the most retrograde system ever devised. With the glorious Imperial System it was so easy to relate to quantities, distances, volumes, etc. Forty pounds per sq. ft. is understandable. 1.9152104 kN/m2 is not.

        • Old Nick

          And it is related to the human body (foot, inch) and human endeavour (furlong – length of a furrow, acre – land which can be ploughed in a day), not to some 18th century Frenchman’s inaccurate idea of a decimal value of the supposed circumference of the earth.
          In fact when Americans try telling me that Brexit is the same as the grim and (please God) evanescent Trump Phenomenon, I indicate that this has all been brewing for some time and point to the Metric Martyrs and to the fact that people were prepared to lose their livelihoods to stick with avoirdupois.

        • David

          Absolutely. The centigrade system, being based on the behaviour of water, a common material, with a freezing point at 0 degrees and a boiling point at 100 degrees, is truly excellent for science. But for informing human’s daily lives the Fahrenheit system is preferable; it gives a finer graded measurement, in its whole numbers, than centigrade. I hate use of centigrade on media weather forecasts.
          Again acres gave a far better idea of land areas than hectares, for exactly the same reason as with temperature measurement. I stick to acres.
          When we had Pounds, Shillings and Pence people had to use their brains to calculate. Now it is so easy the nation has become innumerate.
          We will return to that better system…

          • IrishNeanderthal

            I have read that even Napoleon thought that the Metric system stultified the brain.

            On being told a measurement in metres, he objected and said “don’t give me that, tell me in toises.”

            A toise was six feet, a fathom to us but to the French a gravediggers’ unit as in ‘six feet under’.

          • David

            Interesting.
            I prefer the human based scales for day to day life.
            Let science keep the scientifically based system to itself.

          • dannybhoy

            Yards, feet and inches, pahnds shillings and pence, tons, cwts, stones, lbs and ahnnces..
            When Danny were a young man we used to tote cwts of potatoes or coke on our backs and think nothing of it.
            ….’til 50 years later. :0)

          • David

            I use a sack truck now for heavy loads.

          • dannybhoy

            I use neighbours..

          • David

            Cunning devil !

          • dannybhoy

            We live in a cul de sac and are blessed with kind and friendly neighbours, mostly older but some in their late ’50s.
            Every Christmas we invite them in for drinks and food. One neighbour does the mulled wine. and the ladies bring food.We’re from a real mix of backgrounds, and we come together when necessary.
            It’s nice.
            What one gets to see as a Christian is that your non Christian neighbours can show as much kindness as you can. All that we as Christians can say is that we have initiated the get togethers…..

          • David

            Excellent !
            I totally agree about non-Christians being as kind as us. Of course our culture does have the imprint of Christian influence reaching back about 1500 years, and the effect of this is not to be underestimated.

          • dannybhoy

            I don’t know what you think but my belief is that essentially we are all in our generation on the same ocean together, whatever our beliefs or none.
            We seek to share our faith, to do good and be there for other people.
            The first church that truly influenced my thinking was a Gospel Hall. One of the favourite verses of the ‘oversight’ was in 1st Samuel 25>

            “29 Yet a man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling.”

            …which they somehow interpreted as being ‘wropped up in the bundle of life..’
            In other words the people in each generation are inextricably mixed up with each other….

          • David

            Well yes. I have little time for petty squabbles between denominations. The Universal Church of Christ contains all who trust in Jesus – all who are saved. But there is a choice before us all – to follow Christ, as Saviour, and obey God, or not. We do know that at the end there will be a sorting and separation. However fortunately it is God, not a human, who decides.

          • Pubcrawler

            In my little world we still count fl. oz, gil, pint, quart, gallon, pin, firkin, kilderkin, barrel, hogshead, butt, tun, lots.

          • dannybhoy

            Found this..

            http://www.hoppytrailsbeernews.com/beer-trivia/what-the-firk-is-a-firkin/
            Oh my Goodness! That’s not you is it??
            A Christian can enjoy the fruits of the beer barrel, but to attack it with a mallet like you’re doing here is beyond the pale (ale)…

  • David

    Flash news.
    Nigel Farage resigns as Ukip’s leader. He explains that he has achieved his political ambition. He gave us a referendum and won the vote. A career in politics was never his aim, but simply to free his country. Having campaigned with the slogan “we want our country back”, he now wants his life back. In resigning he shows up the political career elite, who only go when they are kicked out, often in disgrace.

    He is confident that we will leave the EU. But if the establishment wriggle by deliberately leaving on terms that dilute the wishes of the electorate, then Ukip’s machinery, and a new leader, is ready to gather in yet more votes and further threaten the legacy parties that are so, so out of touch with many voters, as the referendum result showed conclusively.
    Apologies Your Grace for jumping topic somewhat.

    • Anton

      Blair has already said that the UK should “keep its options open” in regard to Brexit (ie, ignore the Referendum), and legal firm Mishcon de Reya says it is taking “legal action” to ensure that no PM triggers Article 50 of the EU, initiating withdrawal, without a vote (and Act) of Parliament. Mishcon acts on behalf of a number of influential Remainers and claims that for a PM to do this would override the 1972 European Communities Act by which the UK is in the EU, and further asserts that only parliamentary legislation can override legislation. What is less clear is who exactly Mishcon de Reya’s clients would sue, and under what laws.

      We absolutely must have a committed Brexiteer as PM, and the result of the Referendum must be enacted. If Remainers escalate their obstruction then Brexiteers should respond minimally at each step but without ever backing off, so as to ensure Brexit. On this there can be no compromise.

      • IanCad

        We may have to resort to arms.

        • Erik Dahlberg

          I think that that’s unlikely but, unlike so many of my foolish friends, stability is not my God – Christ is. Serving God and securing peace at all costs is incompatible. We must trust as little earthly power as possible to fellow men and, thus, endeavour to break up Empire in favour of the single nation state. Time, once we intiate Brexit, will be our friend and justify our apparently ‘xenophobic rantings’ as outspoken Churchillian wisdom. Rest assured we will leave the EU, we all will, but some will leave in flames. The EU, to me is a foundation other than the one already laid (see below).

          Corinthians 1 3:10-3:15
          By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

          • IanCad

            Eric, I agree that it would seem unlikely but history shows that wars come up unawares; and when we are the least prepared. We can only trust and pray and be watchful.

          • David

            Exactly.
            Because humanity is flawed we need the minimum of human government, as locally as is practicable, and as representative of all wholesome interests as possible.
            What we all do need though, is for society to reflect the laws of God, as much as it can be persuaded to do so, without becoming tyrannical ourselves. God upholds each one of us in having choice, to turn to Him or the Devil. We cannot force people to be good.
            Humans dream of utopia, and it never works. Only God’s rule will provide and sustain heaven.

      • David

        Few listen to Blair, who is effectively disgraced. But yes the wrigglers and twisters are at work. But we will leave the EU. Not to do so would openly challenge democracy and that’s not their style.

        The greater threat is an attempt to dilute full Brexit through deception. However the public are now very, very alert to the tricks of the corrupt elite. So vigilance will be maintained. Remember that the machinery to organise is now in place, whereas 20 years ago Ukip was nothing and it had to be painfully built up from zero in the teeth of the scorn of the MS media and all the great and good.

        I believe that, although the task is huge, you will now, globally, see a boost in the push-back against PC and the destruction of the west, of which this referendum was a very useful part.

        • Anton

          Blair is likely to be even more effectively disgraced in two days time when the Chilcot Report comes out.

          • CliveM

            Word of caution ‘The Hutton Enquiry’……….,,.

        • Merchantman

          We have to make UK through these next three years with success all round. However the Germans are saying the LSE must move to Frankfurt. Know who your enemies are and pray for them.

          • Anton

            …Pray for them to go!

          • David

            LSE ? Acronyms strike again !

            If you mean the London School of Economics, then I’ll volunteer to drive them to Frankfurt myself – I can’t wait for them to be gone.
            If you mean The London Stock Exchange then I’ll say, “right, next little joke please”

          • Anton

            O, I see. I thought Merchantman meant the London School of Economics, as a replacement for the ghastly “Frankfurt School” of social thinkers that itself left Germany between the wars for the USA, where it has ever since been a source of spiritual pollution.

            The point is that the London Stock Exchange itself, the business through which stocks are exchanged, was bought out (to majority extent) by a German company a few months ago. I do not doubt that this was done in collusion by anti-Brexiteers on both sides, while Cameron and Osborne let it happen.

            Government should find a way to intervene. In the Machiavellian world of finance and law there will assuredly be such a way.

    • dannybhoy

      Grateful thanks to Nigel for working so hard towards this goal, almost single handedly at times. Perhaps it could only have been achieved by someone outside the ‘Westminster bubble’, but Nigel Farage is the real hero behind the Brexit Referendum, and what he did will have reverberations around Europe ..

      • Anton

        Yes. Well said. You are absolutely right that he led the push when nobody else would and that doing so was an act of great merit.

      • David

        Indeed.
        I’ve met the man, briefly.
        He’s a maverick of course, a buccaneer, with all the pluses and minuses that such brave, fizzy characters possess. But ultra -polite, plodders and establishment figures seldom change anything much.

        He has moved mountains, and although not a committed Christian, he really does understand, appreciate and respect the Judaeo-Christian heritage of this country, which he wants to see defended. I say that even though he is not the best person to play a significant part in mounting such a defense. But our forthcoming independence will make it easier to push back against PC and political control by the godless, rootless, ruthless global elite. That’s my opinion anyway, but many are too close to events to see the big picture.

        He was the man for the moment, and history will honour him, even if our deplorable establishment are determined to deny him the honour due to all true, decent patriots.

        History will treat less kindly those who attempted, through deceit and stealth, to submerge us within the EU tyranny.

        But there is still much work to do, and vigilance is essential.

        • History has quite rightly widdled on Ted Heath’s grave. His home in Salisbury Close was bequeathed to the nation as a monument to The Great Man, but I note with grim satisfaction that nobody is interested and the place is closing down due to no visitors.

          • Anton

            I note it with unbridled satisfaction.

          • David

            Indeed Stephen. That strange man was the first in a long line of traitors who betrayed the British people. History is already judging his very harshly.

    • chiefofsinners

      Flash news II. The BBC has a new headline article. Chris Evans has stepped down as presenter of Top Gear.
      Who at the BBC decides the relative importance of news articles? Whoever it is, it’s time they stepped down.

      • David

        Oh the BBC are only interested in commenting on Ukip in order to make mischief.
        You really must be more patient – give them time to organise their “group think” session, to decide how to spin more smears about the party that has worked for two decades for our freedom, even as the Big Boys just raked in the accolades and honours.

      • James60498 .

        I have a habit of switching between radio channels and came across Evans’s programme a while back now.

        I heard him say “Well everyone likes Stephen Fry”. “If there is anyone who doesn’t like him, then I don’t want to know them”.

        Well. Evans. I don’t want to know you either.

      • Pubcrawler

        So Corbyn’s the only one who hasn’t quit yet.

        Breaking: Baroness Who-She announces that she’s stepping down as The Stig.

        • Inspector General

          Everybody knows Bolsheviks don’t resign. It’s in the rule book., so it is. First, attain power. Second, don’t relinquish it whatever happens. Third, get Bolsheviking…

          • carl jacobs

            get Bolsheviking

            I’m not sure that’s actually a word in the OED, so it looks like you have adopted the lexical flexibility we Americans introduced into the English language. Good for you.

            I assume it means “Shoot people in the back of the head.”

          • Inspector General

            In a way. It’s more of a ‘make your political party completely un-electable, but a least you have the consolation that it’s true socialism you have there to give comfort to the masses yearning to be free’.

        • CliveM

          And Tim what’s his name, of the thingymajig party.

          You know……. Him and them.

        • Anton

          O for Mrs Proudie on the machinations within our political parties at the present time!

          • dannybhoy

            Yes, when’s she due back?

          • Uncle Brian

            Some time this month, I think. Her last words were “Until July, adieu!” This Friday, perhaps? We shall see.

        • chiefofsinners

          …been offered a job with The gitS.

      • dannybhoy

        He’s evidently under investigation over an ‘historic incident’ but afaIk BBC camera crews were not informed beforehand.
        Evans was never known for his singing voice…

    • Old Nick

      • David

        I was in Winchester recently and revisited the “Round Table”, hanging on its wall, which I last saw 40 years ago. It reminded me of the legend that Arthur would return when England was in dire peril. The opera you referred me to has a similar theme. Many thanks.

    • dannybhoy

      You know Nigel’s statement was actually foretold in the film Forrest Gump? Here he is addressing the UKIP faithful…

      • David

        Errr….. if you say so ….. in some senses maybe. You decide.

      • chiefofsinners

        He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy.

        • dannybhoy

          (Bottom lip trembling..)
          At least my wife thought that was a brilliant use of that particular clip…

          • chiefofsinners

            So did I.

          • dannybhoy

            (Sniffs)
            Do you weally, cos.
            Weally weally?

        • Manfarang

          Yes indeed as we will soon find out.

  • Old men plant trees

    I struggle with “their sacrifice”. It was not willing. It was not rational. It was not for anything. They were there because they were there. And yet.
    England is in me. The crown is of me. I am an islander. This is my home. I claim no superiority. I just want to be me. Others can join, dwell and absorb our values. What I would fight for is my right to pass this sense on.
    Englishman die because they’re told to. We will die irritated, buggered about and in resignation. We will rest easy knowing that voters and Parliament will absorb and react to the stupidity that got us into that cold hostile alien soil.
    Intimacy and understanding bind us in ways that modern metropolitans only glimpse in their “Glastonbury Experience”. Unrestricted immigration sought to trash England’s soul and replace it with tolerance. Well, we have spoken. Our dead are remembered. We live and honour them by our reluctance to dissolve. We survive and mess up almost everything. We are English. I don’t think we have forgotten.

    • Manfarang

      True Englishmen live abroad.