I was moved by a short piece on the BBC news about the last known surviving British soldier to have fought in the trenches of World War I. Harry Patch is 109 years old and never spoke about his experiences during the war until he was 100. He has now made the trip to Passchendaele in Belgium with historian Richard van Emden, who has been transcribing Harry’s memories. His words as one who lived through the experience are worth hearing though I doubt that those that need to hear them will act upon them.
“Too many died. War isn’t worth one life,”…
He said war was the “calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings”.
He has paid respect equally to the British and German soldiers who died there.
A short video of his visit is here (real player or compatible required).
Random blog post
I find it interesting to read that many young British people’s knowledge of history is patchy manly due to the fact that only just over 30% of young students take history as a subject, with fewer still selecting it at the post 16 stage.
I took history as an option not because I was desperately keen on history per se but because the two year curriculum was only focused on the 20th Century, which I was interested in and because I felt more confident taking history than say chemistry or physics. As it was, my exam result surprised me as history was my best subject outside of art and English.
When the Berlin wall fell in in 1989 many commentators described it as ‘the end of history’ whilst an often quoted banner seen held at a demonstration by college lecturers many years prior to this event read ‘History teachers demand a continuous supply of history’. The supply of history didn’t dry up but seemingly the interest in it did.
Random blog post
Whilst wading through old tapes which contained snippets of news bulletins from the past 30 years or so, I’m often struck how things have changed but remained the same. Today’s near-car bomb scare in London from the point of view of historical sound bites is just one in a long line of potential and actual terrorist incidents. From when I was young and until adulthood it was the bombs of the IRA (which on a couple of occasions saw me getting uncomfortably close to their epicentre) and now it would seem to be pro Al Qaeda terrorists.
Terrorism and bombs seem to have been around now for a large part of my life. Whilst the impact they have has not been as all pervading as in Northern Ireland itself or the ongoing chaos and death that greats very many others in many other countries around the world today, I do wonder if the song will always remain the same or even if the future holds the potential for even more loose groups of disaffected people to join them in venting their frustrations on the casual passer by.
I read with incredublity the realeased secret papers of the 1950′s which show that the then French PM Guy Mollet had proposed to the then UK PM that France & Britain should form a union.Eden was cool on the idea but proposed that France should join the commonwealth instead. I’m sure that many French historians must, today, be aghast that such a union was even proposed and by a French PM given that a year later the European Union was proposed which would see France join Germany in the EU with Britain forever in but not really in (Indeed France’s President De Gaul rejected Britain’s entry many times before we eventually joined). History is often stranger than fiction.