Sunday, March 11, 2007

Battle of the Somme: "Lions led by Donkeys."

Following our class presentation last week on the Battle of the Somme, here is reflection onlast year's anniversary or that "worst battle ever fought."

On the Somme, some 73,000 British dead were never identified; at Verdun, the "unknown" are buried in regiments.
Paul Stanway.

Canada Day this year is the 91st Anniversary of the the Somme. The Canadian Press news wire leads with this story:
OTTAWA (CP) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General Michaelle Jean began Canada Day celebrations Saturday by taking part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial. The event marked the 90th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel. It was "very, very moving," Harper later said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
From the centre-left CBC to the centre right Edmonton Sun, an ideological range of Canadian media support my idea that WWI is loathed irrespective of a person's view toward war in general.

On Canada Day in 1916, some 100,000 soldiers of the British Empire climbed out of their trenches near the River Somme in northern France and advanced at walking pace towards the German line - only to meet death on a mind-boggling, industrial scale, in a futile contest that would redefine the meaning of slaughter. By the end of the day the British forces had suffered 60,000 casualties, including 20,000 dead - Canadians among them. At Beaumont-Hamel, the 1st Newfoundland Regiment was cut to pieces by the German machine-guns, with more than 700 casualties in half an hour.
An interesting video reflection of the battle itself can be found on the BBC as well as a useful study into the origins of WWI. There is also a meaningful article on Britain's Oldest WWI survivor as well as this remarkable contemporaneous letter. There are powerful memorials being held in the north of France by the British.

Revisionist accounts of the Somme are also available, in fairness sake, including an article with an audio recording of the son of the man responsible for the unimaginable carnage effected -- at a place, it must be said, against Haig's judgement -- merely to distract from an imbecilic French military action elsewhere.
I did find this one passage arresting, resonant with our Forester text:
Were Haig and his generals really "donkeys"? The evidence suggests not. Haig lost 58 of his fellow generals, killed or dying of wounds while leading from the front during the four years of war. Three died in the Somme in the first few days. So the General Melchett image of Blackadder - of arrogant Generals safe back at headquarters - is unfounded. They were brave...

1 comment:

David Wozney said...

Re: "OTTAWA (CP) ... Governor General Michaelle Jean ..."

The Governor General of Canada is a "corporation sole", according to this web page document. A "corporation sole" is defined and recognized as being a corporation.

It is a fiction that a corporation is a person.

"A corporation is a fiction, by definition, ...", according to Patrick Healy in a statement that can be read here.

"A corporation is a 'fiction' as it has no separate existence, no physical body and no 'mind'", according to this presentation by Joanne Klineberg.