|Poppies by the roadside, on the way into the village of Thiepval, France.|
The Great War of 1914-1918 was to have been the war which ended all wars, but of course it did not have that result. It was a war thought so savage and so cruel as to never be repeated. In one of the last letters he wrote home from the Somme, Thomas Michael Kettle put it best when he described Europe at war saying,
"We have lived to see Europe degraded to a foul something which no image can so much as shadow forth...Every landmark has been submerged in an Atlantic of blood...We are gripped in the ancient bloodiness of that paradox which bids us kill life in order to save life."
Men such as Thomas Kettle were horrified by what they saw and endured in trench warfare, but despite that they allowed themselves to believe in the best of humanity, and the possibility of a world without war. In another of his final letters he wrote,
"I want to live, too, to use all my powers of thinking, writing and working, to drive out of civilisation this foul thing called War, and to put in its place understanding and comradeship."
On this Remembrance day, let us not forget this one man's dream.
|The altar at Thiepval, The Somme, France|
One of nine stone tablets, Island of Ireland Peace Park, Messines, Belgium. This one bears the words of Terence Poulter, 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and reads:
Hostilities will cease at 11.00am on the 11th day of the 11th month. After that time all firing will cease.
This was joyous news. Approaching eleven o'clock in our sector you could have heard a pin drop. When eleven o'clock came there were loud cheers. The war was over as far as we were concerned.
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