A War to End All Wars

By John Herron

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the armistice became effective which ended the “Great War” a war, which Churchill called “the hardest, cruelest and least rewarded of all wars that men have fought.” Because of the horrors, the death, the destruction, and the outrage at so much squandered life; it was believed to have been “the war to end all wars.”

Veteran’s Day Service
Tue, Nov 11, 10:30am
St. Paul’s Church
Cardo 6
A commemorative plaque will be dedicated
All are welcome to join us

Even now, 100 years later, the numbers and the casualties involved are hard to comprehend. Twenty countries were involved; 55 million men were mobilized worldwide. Four years later almost nine million were dead and countless millions of others maimed, crippled or horribly disfigured.

Lions led by Donkeys

Much of the blame for the death of soldiers in the field can be laid on the shoulders of the military leaders. Foch and Joffre of France, Hindenburg and Ludendorff of Germany, Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia and Pershing of United States — all were guilty of seeking personal glory by feeding young men into the abattoir of battles of annihilation.

Perhaps the most assassin and culpable was the British General Haig. His brainchild was a single blow at the weakest part of the German defenses. With overwhelming force his infantry would break through. Into this gap would pour 50,000 cavalry. They would then spread out and, taking the German defenders in the rear, force surrender and end the war. At the River Somme he assembled 750,000 British and Commonwealth and 120,000 French troops, and 2,000 artillery pieces. The assault on an 18-mile section of the German trenches began with an artillery barrage. It lasted seven days and nights. Confident that all German defenses had been destroyed, Haig ordered that the infantry assault begin at dawn on July 1. At dawn whistles blew and the infantry went “over the top.” Contrary to Haig’s belief, neither the 10 lines of barbed wire nor the entrenched German machine guns were destroyed. The slaughter began immediately. Each of the hundreds of German machine guns sprayed 600 bullets a minute. The trenches were within their range. Men died at they reached the top of the parapet. The dead and wounded lay in heaps. It went on for 10 hours. That day —June 1, 1916— was the most disastrous day in British military history. By the time the assault was called off 57,470 young men who at 7.30 that morning had been young, healthy and full of life, were casualties; 19,240 were dead; 32 died every minute. However, like George Washington before him, Haig was a better politician than he was a general. After the Somme he was promoted Field Marshal and made an earl.

Perpetual War/Endless Conflict

It can never be argued that the politicians are unaware of the horrors they unleash. But they do so nonetheless, sure that they themselves will be still standing at the end. A recent politician, dressed up as a real warrior, swaggered in front of a banner reading “Mission Accomplished.”

A great war soldier said “a politician is someone who is quite happy to sacrifice my life for his country.” Equally it can be argued that our politicians are bought and controlled by what Eisenhower warned against—”the military industrial complex.” Motivated solely by profit, careless of the lives they sacrifice and supported by their paid political hacks, these faceless men continually urge “do something” and want “boots on the ground.” But not their boots!

To honor those of all nations who have died in all wars, a Remembrance/Veteran’s Day Service is planned at St Paul’s Church on Tuesday, November 11, at 10:30am. A commemorative plaque will be dedicated. All are welcome to join us. Funds have been provided by a number of expatriates living in San Miguel led by Paul Dickson, Barry Moyers, and Mike Amici.


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