Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

"
If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Monday, November 18, 2013

"Somme. The Whole History of the World Cannot Contain a More Ghastly Word."

On this day in 1916, the last Battle of the Somme ended. Fighting would dribble on into 1917.

On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the British suffered 60,000 casualties, a single-day loss not equaled in British history before or since. The British promise that friends and neighbors volunteering together would serve together in "pals battalions" ensured that when those units were hit hard, the communities back home would be devastated. One of the critiques of the battle that I've read over the years was that the British Army had their men stroll across No Man's Land into the face of the German Maxim guns because the British didn't bother to train their soldiers to conduct an attack in any other way.

In "All Quiet on the Western Front", Remarque had one of his characters comment that, based on the quality of the newest soldiers, that Germany would be soon empty. The same thing was happening to the British and to the French.

In hindsight, it's pretty clear that the war was soon going to end as all of the combatants were running out of cannon fodder and, in Germany's case, running out of everything else.

We should have let them. One lesson we never seem to learn is to take a hard look at any proposal to go intervene in an ongoing war (or to start one).

Unfortunately, it took less than thirty years for more ghastly words to arise: Holocaust. Genocide. Final Solution.

2 comments:

Deadstick said...

The valley of the Somme, like New England, is in the climatic zone where freeze-thaw cycles continually bring solid objects to the surface. In New England, they're rocks; in the Somme valley, they're unexploded shells.

The sugar-beet farmers still work their fields with unmanned machines dragged across them on cables. Once in a while one blows up or stops with a clank; in the latter case, the army comes for the shell. People still get killed.

Anonymous said...

Good Afternoon, In France there are a group of civil servant with the job title of 'De-miners'. This group of approximately one hundred and thirty remove unexploded shells used during WWI & WW2. The nations battle fields ripe for the picking. 8325 Jackson