When you go home, tell them of us and say
For their tomorrow we gave our today. – John Maxwell Edmunds
Even though the war had finished, its after effects were still felt for quite some time. The losing side, Germany, felt exceedingly angry, as the lost a fair amount of their territory after the war ended, defeating the purpose of which they originally went to war for-to gain more territory. Even on the winning side, soldiers suffered from shellshock, and felt upset that the propaganda had tricked them into going to war. They also feared for their job security, as the women who had stepped in often opted to keep their jobs, and their newfound liberation, as opposed to going back to what they did before the war. World War I was far more than a war over territory; the opportunities it gave women eventually led to them winning the vote in 1928.The revolutionary way they utilised weapons would be refined, and used again in World War II.
However, it is also important to remember those who died fighting for their country, and those who gave their lives so that others may live. The Remembrance poppy, inspired by Sources B and C, has been worn by the British in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Sunday sine the 1920s. It is a red poppy badge, made of material, and the proceeds now go to helping all former and current British military personnel.
Remembrance Sunday, spoken of in Source A, talks about a special memorial service, held on the Sunday closest to 11 November, which is the anniversary of the end of the First World War adversaries. At 11:00am, two minutes of silence are kept to honour the dead. Remembrance Sunday services are usually held by local war memorials, and most British towns have some form of World War I memorial.
Poppies are an important symbol of World War One. In the Second Battle of Ypres, Germany launched the first chemical attack on their opposition. Despite this, the Canadian side won the battle. When they went to bury the dead, the only flower that would grow in the fields was poppy, and it grew with remarkable speed. They were buried in Flanders Fields. Source B talks about the poppies growing around the graves in Flanders Fields. Poppies later came to symbolise the dead soldiers, and remembrance of “The Great War.”
Statues are used to honour those who died, and often have lists of the soldiers that died in battle engraved on them. They also serve as a way of remembering the dead.
World War One is important to South African history because we were still allied with Britain at that stage, since we were still technically a colony. Even though many Boers felt animosity towards the British after the Boer War, Jan Smuts and Louis Botha campaigned for South Africa to go and join Britain in the fight, and the strived towards a united South Africa.
One of the most important battles South African soldiers fought was the Battle of Delville Wood. The South African brigade was ordered to keep the wood, whilst under attack from German forces. They did so, and after six days of fighting, the wood was relieved. Only 750 soldiers out of 3433 remained. This battle went down in history as an example of heroism and self sacrifice in the extreme. The Battle of Delville Wood was the most costly battle the South African Brigade fought. Source D shows a picture of a Delville Wood memorial. Of the South African soldiers, 146000 were white, 83000 were black and 2000 were coloured.
This year is the centenary of World War One. Around the world, whether in special church services such as Source E, or art display such as Source F, people are making an extra effort to commemorate World War I. In Source E, a candle-lit vigil was held in Westminster Abbey, to remember the 17 million dead. In Source F, a Brazilian artist-Nele Azevedo, placed ice sculpture on public stairs in Birmingham to represent the fallen soldiers. These are but a few of the way the centenary is being commemorated, as well as the usually Remembrance Sunday and poppy wearing.
In short, it’s important to remember World War I, and honour the dead, because it set the ball in motion for a lot of things, and is still very much relevant in today’s times.
On a cold November Sunday morn, an old man sits a while
Looking though old photographs, he can’t help but smile
They’re all there, all the boys, with hair cut short and neat
Uniforms of khaki, strong black boots upon their feet.
They met as strangers but soon became like brothers to the end
Smiling at the camera, there could be no truer friends.
They all took the Queen’s shilling, went off to fight the hun,
Soon learnt the pain of loss once the fighting had begun.
So many never made it home, lost on foreign shores
Many more were injured and would be the same no more.
The old man’s eyes mist with tears as he remembers every face
Each of his fallen brothers and the killing which took place
He proudly dons his beret, his blazer and his tie
For today he will remember the ones who fell and died.
On his chest there is a poppy, a blaze of scarlet on the blue
He steps out into the cold, he has a duty he must do
Once at the cenotaph he stands amongst the ranks
Of those who marched to war and those who manned the tanks,
He bows his head in reverence, as the last post begins to play
And he wonders what will happen at the ending of his days
Will anyone remember? Will anybody care?
About the lads so far from home whose life was ended there?
I wish that I could tell him, that he should fear not
For this soldier and his brothers will NEVER be forgot
We owe a debt of gratitude that we can never pay
And this country WILL remember them, on each Remembrance day.
Source A*- Although this is a modern poem, I think that it has a very valid point about remembrance. Every year on 11 November, a memorial service is held in Britain by a memorial cenotaph put in place to remember those who died for their country. This service is attended by veterans, and family of veterans, and serves to remind people of the sacrifices made in the war.
*Information such as when it was published, and background on Maria Cassee was not available on the internet, however we felt that it would be a shame not to include this poem.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Source B- In Flanders Fields, by John McCrae, 1915. McCrae was a Canadian soldier serving in the Second Battle of Ypres. When a friend, Alexis Hamilton, was killed McCrae was asked to conduct the funeral service. It is believed that he wrote this poem the night after the funeral. This poem inspired Moina Belle Michael to write…
We Shall Keep the Faith
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.
Source C- We Shall Keep the Faith, Moina Belle Michael, 1918. It was written as a response to “In Flanders Fields.”Michael campaigned tirelessly to get the poppy as an international remembrance symbol of World War I, and always wore a red poppy brooch to remember the fallen soldiers.
Source D- Delville Wood Memorial, Longueval France. South Africa fought on the British side of the war, and one of the most famous battles fought by South Africa was the Battle of Delville Wood. South Africa was told to keep the wood, and even though they did so, at the end of the battle, only 750 out of 3433 soldiers were left standing.
A candle-lit vigil at Westminster Abbey and a “lights out” event have concluded a day of ceremonies marking 100 years since Britain entered World War One.
People were invited to turn off their lights for an hour until 23:00 BST, the time war was declared in 1914.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and David Cameron attended a twilight ceremony at St Symphorien Military Cemetery near Mons, Belgium.
The Prince of Wales was at a service in Glasgow, among other commemorations.
The Lights Out event – organised by 14-18 NOW, a cultural programme to mark the centenary – saw households, businesses and public buildings across the UK turn out their lights to leave a single candle or light burning.
The event was inspired by the words of wartime Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, who said on the eve of WW1: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”
The conflict between 1914 and 1918 – which became known as the Great War – left 17 million soldiers and civilians dead.
Blackpool Tower, Downing Street, Tower Bridge, the Eden Project in Cornwall, the headquarters of the Football Association and the Imperial War Museums in London and Greater Manchester, were among the buildings which took part in the “lights out” event.
The Duchess of Cornwall joined senior politicians – including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband – for a service of solemn commemoration at Westminster Abbey.
The service included the gradual extinguishing of candles, with an oil lamp put out at the grave of the unknown warrior at the exact hour war was declared.
Source E-Extracts from a BBC article, published 5 August 2014. It details on of the ceremonies happening around the world to commemorate the centenary. It also goes to show the lasting emotional effects World War One has on people.
Source F*- Ice sculptures in Birmingham, by Nele Azevedo, made to commemorate the centenary. She made 5000 and put the on public steps in order to honour th elives lost in the war.
*Source F is our artwork source as we could not find any good commemorative paintings or cartoons and we felt that the ice sculptures were a very interesting means of commemoration.