Tag: First World War

Civil Society and Military Firepower

 

Never was the moon so bright. The uniforms on the Town Hall steps are like chalk. The windows glisten. The moonlit half of the church tower is a mirror of green silk. With gleaning helmets and visors the stone knights by the doorway spring forward from the wall of shadows.

‘Back! Or we fire!’ comes the command coldly.

The Perils of Peacemaking

 

“It is much easier to initiate a war than to end one.” With this sentence, I begin both my most recent book — Sparta’s Second Attic War — and a blogpost put up this morning on the Yale University Press site.

The point of the latter is simple enough: the settlement imposed at the end of one war — say, the First World War — often lays the foundation for the next war, and that is what happened not only at the end of Sparta’s First Attic War, but also at the end of the First Punic War, the War of the League of Augsburg, and, yes, the Cold War.

The error that statesmen and citizens alike tend to make is to fail to recognize that those who accepted terms and have merely yielded to circumstances and are in no way broken in spirit are apt in the future to be lying in wait for an opportunity to strike.

Remembrance Day Weather: Rain in France

 

mediaThe official observances in France, were under rain. Indeed, the rains were heavy enough to repeatedly interfere with the satellite TV transmission signal back to C-SPAN. You see that in the multi-national ceremony and in President Trump’s address at a war memorial for Americans. The rain, and the disruption, is so appropriate to the commemoration of a war in which men lived in muddy trenches, never really dry, for years. Feet, constantly wet, started disintegrating. It was called “trench foot” and is called “immersion foot syndrome.” [Emphasis added.]

Trench foot, or immersion foot syndrome, is a serious condition that results from your feet being wet for too long. The condition first became known during World War I, when soldiers got trench foot from fighting in cold, wet conditions in trenches without the extra socks or boots to help keep their feet dry.

Trench foot killed an estimated 2,000 American and 75,000 British soldiers during WWI. 

Eliminating War?

 

Today is the 100th anniversary of the armistice, ending fighting in the Great War. It is the concluding centennial observance of a war that started in 1914, with the United States of American entering the war in 1917. Entering the war, there was talk of ending the threat of German militarism, ascendent since the Franco-Prussian War. In the face of the industrialized slaughter, the horror of the trenches, and with faith in man’s ability to mold more perfect institutions not yet confronted with the far larger horrors to come, people dreamed of a lasting peace. The phrase capturing these aspirations was “the war to end all wars.”

We see now, as the people, who first heard those words, knew by the 1930s, that the phase is as mockingly empty as the ancient cry, recorded in Genesis 11:4

“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” (NIV)

Member Post

 

A Nameless Graveby Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “A Soldier of the Union mustered out,”Is the inscription on an unknown graveAt Newport News, beside the salt-sea wave,Nameless and dateless; sentinel or scoutShot down in skirmish, or disastrous routOf battle, when the loud artillery draveIts iron wedges through the ranks of braveAnd doomed battalions, storming the redoubt.Thou unknown […]

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A Call to Members: Commemorating the End of the Great War

 

WW1 Centennial (@WW1CC) | TwitterPlease forgive this very belated call from a fellow Ricochet member. I intend to write, marking the centennial of the Armistice of 11/11/1918. However, I am well aware that most of the burden of that terrible war, on the Allied side, was borne, in the meat grinder of the Western Front, by citizens of the British Empire, and the French Third Republic. We are barely aware of the Russians, the Italians, and even Japan.

So, fellow Ricochetti, I invite, I encourage your postings this weekend. Have you a family story? Photographs of a visit to a battlefield? Images from the home front, or the aftermath? Will you attend ceremonies, as a matter of annual observance or as a special centennial event?

Peter Jackson, of the Lord of the Rings movie fame, has produced an apparent masterpiece, They Shall Not Grow Old, taking actual footage, colorizing and adding the voices of the men who lived it. Is anyone attending a screening?

More Golf Ball than Moonscape: The Red Zone in France

 

Serving in Bavaria during the last years of the Cold War, the battalion’s officers took a bus trip to Verdun, for a professional development weekend. The terrain, even in 1988, was a stark, silent testament to the horror that reigned between trenches in the Great War. Moonscape? Try golf ball, for the ubiquity and closeness of deep dimples in the ground. Thirty more years have not erased the scars.

Member Post

 

The beautiful grandmother of my husband was from a German-speaking Jewish family in Bohemia.  When a student, she met this man, a young professor at Charles University in Prague.  They married in Plzen (Pilsen) on the 25th of December, 1913. He obtained a fellowship for advanced study of English literature at the University of London. […]

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