Remembering the Great War

"The War to End All Wars" ended 91 years ago on the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month in 1918. This became known as Armistice Day, and later as Veteran's Day. For many, especially Americans, World War I has been practically forgotten as it is overshadowed by WWII in history classes, but WWI had a great impact on the 20th century and that impact lingers to this day. The nation of Iraq was created in the aftermath of the war, for example.

World War I in many ways was the “War to end all Wars” in that it was every war past and future rolled up into one. There were Napoleonic charges, aerial bombardment, a few misguided cavalry charges with actual horses, tanks, machine guns, artillery barrages, air combat, poison gas attacks, flamethrowers, submarine warfare, and primitive hand-to-hand fighting that came down to knives, sharpened spades, and clubs.

The trenches were hell on earth – mud, water, snipers, artillery barrages, barbed wire, machine gun fire, and the rotting corpses of those who fell in No-Man’s Land, the deadly area between the opposing armies’ trenches. Plus there was rampant disease, lice, and rats grown fat from feeding off of corpses.


From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by samuraidave.

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I did mean the Last Post, yes! Oops.

@rod No, I didn't, but there are many British schools who took the same trip for sure (having spoken to friends & acquaintances I've made since school), and I imagine many others all across Europe. Definitely worthwhile.

Many a soggy-eyed moment, when you see grave upon grave upon grave upon grave and name upon name upon name... And then you realise the ones whose bodies have actually been found, and whose names have actually been etched onto that particular memorial are only a drop in the ocean - ouch. I've even got a lump in my throat typing this.
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@ sara:

did you happen to go to Baden senior school (Canadian forces base school?) We did the exact same thing on our trip in 88 or 89. I was also around 14-15.
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Skipweasel I'm amazed anyone survived the Somme, we were like target practice for the German artillery.

We did a small recreation of the Somme on a school battlefields trip to Belgium when I was about 14 (about 50 of us crossed a field, each representing say 1,000 soldiers, dropping one by one onto the ground of the 'nomansland'). We also visited the big cemeteries and war memorials, heard the Last Stand played by a solitary trumpet at the Menin Gate, and generally learned a lot about the sheer bloody loss of life in WWI.

Every kid should do that trip if they can, IMO. WWI is not to be forgotten.

The thing that remains with me the strongest is the visual difference between the cemeteries of the Allies and the Axis/Germans.

For example:
Tyne Cot, white, 11,908 graves, one stone per body, many only "known unto God":
Langemarck, black, mass grave of 25,000 bodies under a flower bed:
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