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    • A little history lesson taken from the histroy channel, the words ring true as my family lived thru the horrors that were World War 1, it was horrific for Europe and as today is the 100 year anniversary of the final day...

      At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ends. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.

      On June 28, 1914, in an event that is widely regarded as sparking the outbreak of World War I, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, was shot to death with his wife by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Ferdinand had been inspecting his uncle’s imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite the threat of Serbian nationalists who wanted these Austro-Hungarian possessions to join newly independent Serbia. Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the problem of Slavic nationalism once and for all. However, as Russia supported Serbia, an Austro-Hungarian declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention.

      On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed. On July 29, Austro-Hungarian forces began to shell the Serbian capital, Belgrade, and Russia, Serbia’s ally, ordered a troop mobilization against Austria-Hungary. France, allied with Russia, began to mobilize on August 1. France and Germany declared war against each other on August 3. After crossing through neutral Luxembourg, the German army invaded Belgium on the night of August 3-4, prompting Great Britain, Belgium’s ally, to declare war against Germany.

      For the most part, the people of Europe greeted the outbreak of war with jubilation. Most patriotically assumed that their country would be victorious within months. Of the initial belligerents, Germany was most prepared for the outbreak of hostilities, and its military leaders had formatted a sophisticated military strategy known as the “Schlieffen Plan,” which envisioned the conquest of France through a great arcing offensive through Belgium and into northern France. Russia, slow to mobilize, was to be kept occupied by Austro-Hungarian forces while Germany attacked France.

      The Schlieffen Plan was nearly successful, but in early September the French rallied and halted the German advance at the bloody Battle of the Marne near Paris. By the end of 1914, well over a million soldiers of various nationalities had been killed on the battlefields of Europe, and neither for the Allies nor the Central Powers was a final victory in sight. On the western front—the battle line that stretched across northern France and Belgium—the combatants settled down in the trenches for a terrible war of attrition.

      In 1915, the Allies attempted to break the stalemate with an amphibious invasion of Turkey, which had joined the Central Powers in October 1914, but after heavy bloodshed the Allies were forced to retreat in early 1916. The year 1916 saw great offensives by Germany and Britain along the western front, but neither side accomplished a decisive victory. In the east, Germany was more successful, and the disorganized Russian army suffered terrible losses, spurring the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. By the end of 1917, the Bolsheviks had seized power in Russia and immediately set about negotiating peace with Germany. In 1918, the infusion of American troops and resources into the western front finally tipped the scale in the Allies’ favor. Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies on November 11, 1918.

      World War I was known as the “war to end all wars” because of the great slaughter and destruction it caused. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the conflict—the Treaty of Versailles of 1919—forced punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.

    • For the Fallen

      Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), published in The Times newspaper on 21 September 1914.

      With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
      England mourns for her dead across the sea.
      Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
      Fallen in the cause of the free.

      Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
      Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
      There is music in the midst of desolation
      And a glory that shines upon our tears.

      They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
      Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
      They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
      They fell with their faces to the foe.

      They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
      Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
      At the going down of the sun and in the morning
      We will remember them.

      They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
      They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
      They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
      They sleep beyond England's foam.

      But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
      Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
      To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
      As the stars are known to the Night;

      As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
      Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
      As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
      To the end, to the end, they remain.

    • The Great War is sort of like a horror movie, in that if you're watching it from outside, you are constantly screaming for everyone not to make each godawfully foolish choice they make, starting from the one that gets them into this mess at all.

      It's completely unlike a horror movie in that the people making the mistakes are never the ones getting killed terribly for it.

      I'm grateful I'm here: my great-grandfather was an enlisted man in the Canadian Expeditionary, which like the Anzacs and like the French's colonial troops, were thrown with great abandon at whatever objective would have been, or had already proved, too destructive of the motherlands' own sons.


      Siegfried Sassoon, 1886 - 1967

      Soldiers are citizens of death’s gray land,
        Drawing no dividend from time’s to-morrows.
      In the great hour of destiny they stand,
        Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
      Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
        Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
      Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
        They think of firelit homes, clean beds, and wives.

      I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
        And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
      Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
        And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
      Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
        And going to the office in the train.