Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Yesterday, 12th November, was the birthday of Better Half’s father, who was born in 1918, and fittingly named Victor by the nurses who attended his arrival, in honour of the ending of the First World War which finished  at 1100 hours on the 11th of November. This was 2300 hours on the 11th in New Zealand, just a few hours before he was born. It wasn't until the following day that the majority of New Zealanders heard of the cessation of hostilities.

Vic passed away in 2002. He was a veteran of Greece, Crete and the Breakout at Minqar Qaim before being wounded on 22nd January 1943 near El-Aziziya, Libya. He was just 25 miles south of Tripoli which was taken the following day, when he was hit by artillery shrapnel and spent the following 6 weeks in a forward tent hospital before he was well enough to be airlifted in a Liberator to Cairo.

When one reads about how this, the First World War, started (I am currently reading Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914 by Max Hastings) and the idiots that started it, and the monumental egos that were only surpassed by the incompetence of the political and military leaders of the day, one wonders how some dribbling morons can convince a populace to once more take up arms at a later, date.

I came across an amazingly perceptive remark by a wounded German captured by the Russians, and who failed to survive the move back to an ambulance train. The stricken soldier said “The great lords have quarreled, and we must pay for it with our blood, our wives and children.”

As Maxwell notes, most of his comrades on both sides would have agreed that his judgement on the struggle was hard to gainsay.

Lest We Forget

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