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100 years ago
June 30, 2016

Joined: May 8, 2014
Posts: 1205
100 years ago

June 30, 2016

To think in less than 24 hours the Battle of the Somme is about to kick off , with all that entails in the casualties on the first day and it dragging on for nearly the rest of the remainder of the First World War . Back in the early 80's whilst still serving I visited the sites now so inscribed in the history of the British/ French and I suppose the German Armies ,taking my then 14 year old son with me . We did the tour by car starting off at Wypers then on to Meninn to Pashendale to name a few in the west . Next was Vimmy Ridge there was the Canadian divisions upto Thepval ,the noticeable landmarks were the military cemeteries,I lost count on the number we visited,the biggest was the one being the bloody limit at Pashendale over 11000 graves plus the thousands of names on the back wall of the missing no known graves . Thepval was being maintained scaffolding etc but just to read the blocks of the missing plus of 70000 if my memory serves me , also the preserved trenches on Vimmy ridge literally feet apart ,all the time finding 6 th Dragoon Guards, 20th Hussars ( my unit then) . I remember a little valley with cemeteries at either end with a French village in between,called Catapilla valley the French village cemetery will have to be there for hundreds of years before civilians dead will match the British dead in both cemetery.

One thing I noticed was that in the German cemeteries compared to CWG ones was that they had a cross for every 4 buried,a name on each of the arms of the cross back and front ,I suppose their losses were very heavy .Finally finishing of at Verdun on the way home to Germany ,words can't describe tha carnage of Verdun toe to toe fighting in large bunkers forts to the French open fields for the Germans casualties in their hundreds of thousands . From reading and looking at the pictorial history of the battlefield it many many years to clear the fields of the bodies ,which now reside in the Ossary ,this building is surrounded by cemeteries to the French but in the cellars which by the way you look through red tinted glass contains the bones of the dead off the fields ,each cellar having specific bones/body parts hundreds of thousands,I think the word is unbelievable bravery by all to fight in those conditions day after day .

Seeing Verdun ,reading of how the French Army was ready to mutiny through conditions I now relize why the Somme had to be , but why oh why were the generals at the time so callous with lives of the men in the trenches,many years ago I read a book on the WW1 entitled " Lions led by Donkeys" .that generation of soldiers on both sides were sacrificed by the gentry of the day . God bless them all especially my wife's uncles buried on the Somme in 1918 at a little village cemetery of Epehy Wood Farm

 

July 1, 2016

Joined: May 8, 2014
Posts: 1205
100 years ago

July 1, 2016

Just watching the Beebs presentation of the "Somme " rememberance service ,noticeably there were "Not" one German current politician representatives of the million German soldiers who perished,just a retired president. The question is are they still coming to terms with havoc they caused thro out the world with aggression during the first half of the 20th century or too ashamed???


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