Reviving my interest in War literature…

Just lately, when I haven’t been exhausted from my new job, I’ve been throwing myself into reading Pat Barker’s “The Regeneration Trilogy”. The First World War has long been an interest of mine, and I’ve always loved the literature of the time period be it poems written by the men in the trenches, or novels written about it. Birdsong has always been a particular favourite of mine from the moment I read it when I was doing A-Level English Literature. But I’d never read The Regeneration Trilogy.

I’m wondering now why I didn’t.

I’ve not finished it yet, as I only really have time to read a few chapters of an evening, but the way Barker portrays the characters of Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and countless others who actually existed is phenomenal. It truly is a wonderful book, and an interesting take on those in the war who found themselves in Craiglockhart hospital. I’m hoping to do a post at some point on Craiglockhart and the men who spent their time there to recover from shell shock.

I’ve also recently picked up a new biography of Wilfred Owen.

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Owen is my favourite First World War poet, and his life has always been of particular interest to me. I can’t wait to pick this up and learn more about the life of the man who died just a few days before the Armistice was signed, and who left us such wonderful poems as “Anthem For Doomed Youth” and “Dulce Et Decorum Est”.

I’ll review both The Regeneration Trilogy and the Wilfred Owen biography once I’ve read them. As I said above, I actually have a new job so lord knows when I’ll get the books finished. Keep an eye out and you’ll see these posts, as well as others, popping up soon.

We Will Remember Them

If I should die, think only this of me: 
That there’s some corner of a foreign field 
That is for ever England. There shall be 
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed; 
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware, 
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam, 
A body of England’s, breathing English air, 
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home. 
 And think, this heart, all evil shed away, 
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less 
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given; 
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day; 
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness, 
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
This is not the sort of thing I would normally post however, Remembrance Sunday is an exceptionally important moment in history. Because on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month 1918, the guns of the First World War fell silent. And at that moment, a peace treaty was signed between the Allies and Germany in a train carriage in the forest of Compiegne. We have celebrated the end of the war every year since, and it’s not only about remembering those who died in World War 1 or World War 2, but also remembering those serving now, remembering those who died in recent conflicts also.

Irish Soldiers on the first day of the Somme

Today it is important that we remember those thousands of men who gave their lives in World War 1, each and every man who died to enemy guns be they on the allied side or the German side; we remember those men and women who fought and died in world war 2 – the soldiers, the nurses, the spies; the men, women and children who died in concentration camps; those who fought and died in more recent conflicts – the Boer Wars of the late 1800’s and the more recent Afghanistan conflict being just two examples. These people have all died serving their country, and we owe each and every one of them for it.
I for one will always remember, I will remember the roles that both my great (great?) grandfathers played in the first world war. Both men fought in France, both survived the entire four year effort, both even fought at the Somme. I will remember the stories that they told me, and the old world war I tin helmet that my grandfather wore during the Somme with the bullet hole in it. He was shot, and the bullet went straight through the helmet, just centimetres away from the top of his head. Lest we forget…
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them