Today, in 1918, the guns fell silent on the Western Front. We shall Remember them…
This morning I opened the blog entry of Ouch my back hurts– about his visit to the war cemetery at Delville Woods, where a lot of South African soldiers lies buried. We also had the goosebumps on Saturday when a soldier played the Last Tattoo on the trumpet before the rugby game between South Africa and Wales… (damn, that Alain Rolland is an irritating referee!)
Since a very young age I have been interested in history, and war stories. It always sounded so glamorous. But then, our country’s young men also had to do compulsory military service. We were soldiers. And we also experienced the horror of basic training, of being shout at by a pimply two striper with an IQ barely above that of a pea plant. There was the camaraderie of soldiers- people suffering through the same adversity. But there was also the bad experiences of body bags, and military funerals. As an Army Chaplain I had to take the messages of deaths to families and loved ones.
Military cemeteries and monuments are good things. They remind us of the senselessness of war. I love the point of view that Chris de Burgh sings about in Borderline- take the politicians, stick them in a room together, and make them fight it out… Why should young men keep dying in old men’s wars? Agreed, sometimes we have to fight injustice. Some dictators in history really needed a bullet in the head to improve their thinking. But the price young men and these days also women pay, is horrific.
Our country fought as an Allied partner in both World Wars. Our Boer Commandos of the Anglo Boer War inspired the Special Forces- which is still referred to as Commando Forces in some countries. Our General Jan Smuts was a founding member of the United Nations. We can do war. But it is a bad idea! This is why:
My ancestors were responsible for these names on the memorial to the Black Watch regiment in Edinburgh. But they started it! Anyway, they are remembered as brave soldiers, who marched to the tune of the bagpipes into a killing field, and a lot of them died at Magersfontein near Kimberley.
Twelve years later the old enemies fought together as Allies in Europe. And died together on Flanders’ fields…
And Uncle Spike shared this monument on Saturday– the Special Forces (Commandos) memorial in the shadow of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain in Scotland… my photo of it:
Politicians- war is a BAD idea. Stop your nonsense…
In conclusion- one of the best songs of war- the end title song of the movie Passchendaele- Sarah Slean singing: After the War-
PS- Now I have to start preparing for a funeral of a young father who died by gunshot wound on Thursday… Tomorrow we must remember him too… when will it stop?
- Great Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902, Triumph of the Boer and his Mauser Rifle 1895-1900 (periklisdeligiannis.wordpress.com)
- The Boer Wars (psicaptain.wordpress.com)
- Boks continue dominance over Wales (iol.co.za)