Tag: WWI

In Flanders Fields

 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:

We’ve Had Worse Times

 

My wife became a US citizen 14 years ago.  She did it on her own hook, after being in the US for 25 years, not because she married me.  But now she tells me she’s beginning to regret becoming a citizen because of all the nonsense we are seeing now.

Yes, racial relations are getting worse and worse and the situation is being driven by race mongers and seditionist leftists.  Yes, the libs are threatening to tax us and take the money in our IRA’s and 401ks.  Yes, an increase in inflation is threatening to destroy our retirement savings.  Yes, inflation is increasing.  Yes, corporations will pay higher taxes, and we will pay more for goods and services as a result.  Yes, people are losing their jobs and status for speaking their minds.  Yes, we are set to waste trillions on the phantom of climate change.  Yes, crime is on the rise even as leftists are calling to abolish the police.  Yes, we have seen continuous rioting, vandalism, and violence in our cities.  Yes, anti-white racism in on display everywhere.  Yes, there is an open season on American Jews.  But not to worry, I say.   The US has seen worse.

‘Sweet and Fitting,’ or ‘Unworthy’ and ‘Distasteful?’ Wilfred Owen vs. William Butler Yeats

 

Wilfred Edward Salter Owen, beloved son, accomplished poet, and soldier of The Great War, was born 128 years ago, on March 18, 1893 in Oswestry, a Welsh border town, in the county of Shropshire.  Readers of Ellis Peters’s Brother Cadfael chronicles, or of her Welsh historical quartet (written under her real name of Edith Pargeter) will probably recognize the area.  It’s beautiful country, not far from my own home stomping grounds, rich in history and mysteries of all sorts.

Although both his parents came from families that had been, at one point, comfortably off, both sides had fallen on hard times, and there’s a sense, in some of the writings about Owen’s youth, and in his biography, that Wilfred, the oldest of four children, felt the sting of that comedown, as the family moved around Shropshire trying to better their circumstances.  In 1911, Owen applied for a scholarship position at the University of London, but although scoring well enough for entrance, he failed to hit the mark for financial assistance, and so worked for a few years as an assistant to a local vicar in order to pay for his keep and towards his studies.  He took classes in Botany, and subsequently, at the urging of one of his professors, turned his attentions to poetry and English literature.  His first attempts at poetry of his own occurred shortly after, when he took a job as a tutor in France, and wrote a small, unpublished, book of poems titled “Minor Poems–In Minor Keys–By a  Minor.” (I’ve not seen any of those poems, but many references cite it as an homage to the poetry of one of Owen’s literary heroes, John Keats.)

Quote of the Day: Winston Churchill and The French Helmet

 

When Churchill visited the French XXXIII Corps with [General Sir Louis] Spears, its commander gave him a distinctive poilu helmet, which he thought superior to the round British “soup bowl” steel helmet and which he wore thereafter.  “It looks so nice and will perhaps protect my valuable cranium,” he told [his wife] Clementine, saying it was “the cause of much envy. I look most martial in it – like a Cromwellian – I always intend to wear it under fire, but chiefly for the appearance”. (ed. Soames, Speaking pp 132, 129). His new headgear underlined his Francophilia, and his lifelong love of unusual hats, which he felt was useful for cartoonists.

The above quote is a footnote at the bottom of Page 235 of Andrew Roberts’s book Churchill, Walking With Destiny.  The time period was November, 1915 in the midst of WWI.  Below is a painting of Mr. Churchill in his favorite helmet.  Roberts says that Churchill especially loved this particular painting.

“The Sound of Music” and the Real Captain von Trapp

 

I see that this year marks the 60th anniversary of “The Sound of Music” as a Broadway play.  If you’ve seen the 1965 move that was based on this play…and who hasn’t?…you’ll remember Captain von Trapp.  The real Captain’s real-life children were not thrilled with the way he was portrayed in the movie–according to them, he was by no means that rigid disciplinarian who summoned the children with a bosun’s whistle and required them to line up in military formation.  (The bosun’s whistle was real, but only for communication purposes on the large estate…no lining-up involved.)

The movie was indeed correct that Captain von Trapp was a former naval officer whose services were much desired by the Nazis after their takeover of Germany and, later, Austria… and that he wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. His memoir, To the Last Salute, was originally published in German in 1935 and later translated into French; an English translation has only become available fairly recently.

Quote of the Day: The Guns of August

 

A Frenchman goes over to watch the Japanese beat the Russians in a war that was held just before the First World War, a mere decade before the date this book is set. What did he notice in his watching? He noticed that it is generally not a good idea to charge against people with machine guns. After, when he mentioned this to other French generals they decided that he was a coward. He said that wearing a uniform that featured a bright blue coat and bright red trousers might be the equivalent of wearing a bull’s eye tied around your neck and a neon sign saying ‘shoot here’. His saying this was considered not only utterly outrageous but also an insult to French soldiers…The lesson is that you can change the technology, but people might not understand what that change will mean. – Barbra Tuchman

Barbra Tuchman’s 1962 book The Guns Of August was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and made into a 100 minute documentary film in 1965. President John F. Kennedy commanded his cabinet and principal military advisers to read the book. Some scholars think this book affected Kennedy’s approach to the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The book led the political scientist Graham Allison in 1971 to propose the Organizational Process Model instead of the traditional Game Theory and other Rational Actor approaches to conflicts. So how does the quote above and Allison’s book hold up after 50 years?

Review: They Shall Not Grow Old

 

In the 1950 and 60s the Imperial War Museum and the BBC recorded oral histories of ordinary Tommies and their experiences in the Great War from 1914-18. From enlistment to training, to the horrors of the mud, the blood, the gas, the stench and the filth of the trenches, and the somewhat hollow homecoming, their stories are both riveting and revolting.

To bring these these stories to life, New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson combines their voices with film from the IWM vaults, much of it never seen before. His techniques are both a marvel and at times questionable. When much of the footage was originally shot the frame rate of hand-cranked film was somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 16 frames per second instead of the now standard 24 FPS. To compensate, computer software was utilized to create interpolated frames. It smooths out the action and removes the herky-jerky style we have come to expect of motion pictures from the silent era but it means that for every minute of real film on screen there are about 20 seconds of computer created imagery. To top that off all of the film shot in France has been colorized and for theater audiences, some of it stereoscoped into 3D. I viewed the film as it was presented on the BBC on Armistice Day and the re-translation back to 2D is unsettling at times.

Because the film is silent, Jackson’s team of foley artists and ADR technicians brought in lip readers and actors with the appropriate regional accents to give voice to individuals seen talking on film. The colorization is often a best-guess proposition. Some colors are too stark, others are too muted. But its primary purpose seems to be to replace the darker and undefined representation of blood in black and white with a more shocking-to-the-senses red, and in that it is successful.

The Phobia(s) That May Destroy America

 

I am continually dismayed by the level of fear, contempt, and anger that many educated/urban/upper-middle-class people demonstrate toward Christians and rural people (especially southerners). This complex of negative emotions often greatly exceeds anything that these same people feel toward radical Islamists or dangerous rogue-state governments. I’m not a Christian myself,  but I’d think that one would be a lot more worried about people who want to cut your head off, blow you up, or at a bare minimum shut down your freedom of speech than about people who want to talk to you about Jesus (or Nascar!)

It seems that there are quite a few people who vote Democratic, even when their domestic and foreign-policy views are not closely aligned with those of the Democratic Party, because they view the Republican Party and its candidates as being dominated by Christians and “rednecks.” This phenomenon has become even more noticeable of late, with the vitriolic attitude of certain prominent “conservatives” toward Trump supporters as a class.

What is the origin of this anti-Christian anti-“redneck” feeling? Some have suggested that it’s a matter of oikophobia … the aversion to the familiar, or “the repudiation of inheritance and home,” as philosopher Roger Scruton uses the term. I think this is doubtless true in some cases: the kid who grew up in a rural Christian home and wants to make a clean break with his family heritage, or the individual who grew up in an oppressively conformist Bible Belt community. But I think such cases represent a relatively small part of the category of people I’m talking about here. A fervently anti-Christian, anti-Southern individual who grew up in New York or Boston or San Francisco is unlikely to be motivated by oikophobia. Indeed, far from being excessively familiar, Christians and Southern people are likely as exotic to him as the most remote tribes of New Guinea.

Member Post

 

I’m interested in learning more about the causes & history of what started World War I, as well as about the war, itself; what the hell caused the horrid thing, which had such lasting influence on the rest of the century? Has anyone any recommendations for books on the subject, especially ones geared toward the […]

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Member Post

 

An editorial of sorts on the passage of a “compulsory work” law, appearing in the Santa Ana Daily Register (future Orange County Register), June 11, 1917: Everybody works in West Virginia. Or everybody will, when the new compulsory labor law goes into effect. A statute recently enacted by the legislature requires every male citizen from […]

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Member Post

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Sunday. (This week’s was printed on Wednesday.) When it appears, I post the previous week’s review on Ricochet. Seawriter Preview Open

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Mrs. Of England is not an ideologue, nor a debater by nature. Over the course of our marriage, I have known her to become genuinely passionate about an abstract issue not related to the liturgy only once. No one but Charlie Cooke has ever been so wrong as to see her not only go to […]

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Meetup in Kansas City!

 

Robin-hood-disneyscreencaps.com-4724June 15 marks 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta, one of the most important documents in history. In honor of the fellow at the right agreeing to respect his noblemen: Mr. Amy, James of England, and I are hosting a Ricochet Meetup in Kansas City!

This June has a number of anniversaries of important events in the spread of freedom and American identity at 25, 50, 100, 200, 400, 1600, 3200, and 6400 years ago. We assume that everyone will be celebrating 800 years of the Magna Carta, so we’re not trying to compete on the day; we’re taking the closest weekend. The Waterloo celebration later in the week may mean that you’re already partied out that week; if so, we understand, just as those of you who get to celebrate the Berlin Wall finally falling to Peter’s words have a great reason not to attend other, inferior parties. An informal poll, though, suggests that few of you are celebrating the 400 years since Pocahontas gave birth to a founding father of Virginia (and James would like to suggest there is nothing more pro-freedom than marrying an Englishman). Come celebrate the invention of beer, or any of the other anniversaries, but more importantly, come and celebrate Ricochet. A meetup where we have coffee really is like having coffee with friends.

On June 13th, we will be at Penn Valley Park in beautiful midtown Kansas City. After a recitation of the Magna Carta’s text — it’s not much longer than the Declaration of Independence — under a garden of memorial oak trees, we will tour Liberty Memorial and WWI museum. Afterwards, we’ll have a delightful picnic at the shelter and fun in the sun in one of Kansas City’s great parks.

Remembrance

 

London Scottish, BelgiumThese were the lines, lovely, elegiac, lapidary, from Lawrence Binyon’s For the Fallen (1914) that proclaimed a promise designed to resonate through the ages:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.