Showing posts with label World War I. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World War I. Show all posts

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Celebrating the centenary of the horrors of Verdun

Today, in France, the nation is celebrating the centenary of the most horrible butchery in European history: Verdun.

On the morning of 21 February 1916, a vast German offensive was set in action at a quarter past seven. For the next ten hours, the 1,291 German field guns fired more than a million shells, along a front of 20 kilometers. Within ten months of warfare, some 700,000 soldiers were slain: 379,000 French and 335,000 Germans.

Since early this morning, a sad movie clip has been reappearing whenever I click upon the main Verdun website. We see naked soldiers strutting robotically around the courtyard of an asylum. Clearly, they're brain-damaged. It's a terrible illustration of the ghastly psychiatric consequences of war.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Churchill's atrocious Gallipoli campaign

The Englishman Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, was personally responsible for the disastrous decision to start the Gallipoli land campaign against Turkey, involving more than 400,000 British and some 140,000 Commonwealth and Irish servicemen. At dawn on 25 April 1915, an amphibious attack was launched at Gallipoli, on the Dardanelles Straits, the route to the Black Sea and Russia.

The bloodshed was gigantic. My Australian fellow countrymen have always tended to imagine that the Gallipoli tragedy was largely an Anzac affair, but the deaths concerned many victims from several nations.

• On the enemy side, some 87,000 Turks were killed.

• Some 29,500 troops from Britain and Ireland were slaughtered.

• Deaths of troops from France were more than 12,000.

• Deaths of troops from Australia and New Zealand were 11,000.

By the start of 1916, Britain was aware that the Gallipoli campaign had been an atrocious military error, and all remaining Allied troops were withdrawn. To commemorate that sad centenary, the royal family took part in a ceremony yesterday at Sandringham.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

End of our Gallipoli centenary year

This year, my native land celebrated the centenary of the fateful Australian landing at Gallipoli (in modern Turkey) that started on 25 April 1915. Over 8 thousand Australians died there. In Australia and New Zealand, we have always thought of this disastrous battle as our initial military engagement.

Click here to listen to Lemmy Kilmister, of the Motörhead rock group, who died yesterday, singing about young soldiers in that horrible war.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Centenary of a terrible Turkish crime

The French media are full of in-depth articles about a horrendous crime perpetrated by the precursors of present-day Turkey exactly a century ago, starting on 24 April 1915. But it had nothing to do with the Anzac fiasco at Gallipoli on the following day. The tragedy that concerns European historians, politicians and intellectuals of all kinds was the revolting Armenian Genocide, which resulted in the massacre of between 800,000 and 1.5 million victims.

An Armenian woman kneeling beside a dead child in a field near Aleppo.

The modern state of Turkey refuses stubbornly and stupidly to condone the use of the term “genocide” to designate what happened. To see the list of nations that respect the notion of an Armenian genocide (such as France), alongside those that don’t (such as Australia), click here.

Meanwhile, in my native Clarence River region, they’ve been “celebrating” gaily and naively the Anzac fiasco of 1915 (totally ignored by French media) by means of joyous horseback cavalcades, meant to symbolize the participation of Australia’s Light Horse Brigade. In reality, of course, there were never any Aussie horses at Gallipoli…

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Anzac Day madness

Within the forthcoming 48 hours, my native land will be moving massively into a lugubrious funereal mode of existence, incorrectly labeled as a national celebration of soldiery and martyrdom.

Mourning the death of a warrior is meaningful in the special case of relatives who were once in personal contact with the fallen individual. Celebrating the bravery of a military hero is a different affair, which can be meaningful for observers whose knowledge of the heroic individual comes from written records and hearsay. Today, through the simple arithmetic of dates and ages, there are no longer any living Australians who might mourn an ancestral World War I martyr. Consequently, we are faced with the unique possibility of praising the bravery of the precious few who did indeed perform proven acts of bravery.

One such soldier was my father’s uncle Francis Pickering [1897-1945], who was awarded a Military Medal for his “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the attack on the village of Joncourt on the 1st October 1918”.

The exploits of "King" Pickering (whose nickname became my father's official given name) are outlined in my book They Sought the Last of Lands – My Father’s Forebears [Gamone Press, 2014].

I’ve always been nauseated by Australia’s constant attempts to glorify the utter madness of the terrible events that took place in Turkey on 25 April 1915. When I was a youth in Grafton, a pair of ridiculous dates—Anzac Day and, a month later, Empire Day—sickened me constantly by their obvious absurdity. Why should the youth of Australia be expected to celebrate the nasty deeds and archaic illusions of the blood-thirsty old lion on the other side of the planet?

And who was this fragile but pretentious and depressive Victorian dandy named Winston Churchill, a future alcoholic rejected by his father, whose crazy appreciations of military conquest resulted in an entire generation of young Australians being sent to a certain death? Shame on his name!

These days, I’m saddened whenever I see young Aussies falling into the crazy trap of a would-be “celebration” of Anzac Day madness, fueled emotionally but superficially by the senseless romantic lament of a lone bugle and bagpipes at dawn. What utter nonsense! Such Australian visitors would do better to spend their time in Istanbul (ancient Constantinople), admiring the splendors of our Byzantine heritage. And those who are adamant upon visiting the horror sites of the Western Front would do far better, in my humble opinion, to make an effort to establish authentic in-depth contacts with modern France and Europe…

I’m now including the addresses of three interesting but quite different videos that illustrate the negative aspects of Australia’s Anzac Day madness. They’re lengthy (well over an hour) and dense. But I advise you strongly to take time off and settle down comfortably to view them.

Friday, August 8, 2014

No glory in war

What a superb statement! I wish I had invented such a slogan.

So-called “Great War” celebrations are starting to drown us, while diluting the horrors in vain glory of the mindless Gallipoli variety.

It’s time to get back to old-fashioned common sense, summed up in the above slogan about no glory in war. This little video is a masterpiece:

For the moment,
for reasons I don't understand,
I can't seem to find
the video in question [William]