Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Centenary plan to commemorate the Great War

The BBC has announced its four-year Centenary plan to commemorate the Great War:
These are broad plans, and no doubt they are flexible enough to allow variations and amendments.
At first sight it is a interesting and comprehensive programme, although I found the comment "it is incumbent upon us to offer differing interpretations of the war and we won’t shy away from doing that" rather ominous (there is a danger that the usual claque of lefty loudmouths will attempt to hi-jack the commemorations as part of their on-going agenda). 
However I was disappointed and concerned that no particular focus seems to be planned on the impact of the Great War on the English countryside.  This was the moment when the countryside was depopulated.  Millions of farmers and farmworkers (and squires too let us not forget) gathered-in the harvest of 1914, went off to the war, and far too many did not come back again.  Many millions of farmhorses went off to the war and did not come back again.  The impact this had on the communities that remained is one of the most moving and tragic of the whole conflict.  The men and horses were replaced by machines, and a whole way of life vanished.  
The legacy of the war also lingers longer in rural areas.  Often I have stood before lists of village war fatalities with the children and grandchildren of the men named and heard their stories come alive.  You cannot understand the modern countryside without reference to the Great War.

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