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Monday, 28 February 2011

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RIP Mr Buckles. Was he the very last of all?

WWI Memorials (Cenotaphs) are also common in cities, towns and villages across the UK too. They have often been updated to list those that have fallen in subsequent wars.

I wonder if anyone will rise to the bait about what appears to be an HDR image. Not something that is seen very often on TOP.

steve

There's a video on Vimeo about Mr. Buckles.
http://www.vimeo.com/5966300

Just FYI, there is a memorial of sorts just off the mall. It is a Gazebo that was dedicated by the president in the 1930's. There is an inscription on there that tells us which president it was, that there was a band there, and oh yeah, it was for the soldiers of the Great War. It isn't much to look at.

Isaac,
IIRC that's a memorial for the WWI soldiers from D.C. IOW not a national memorial but another local one. I could be wrong (curious there's no shorthand "ICBW").

Mike

Don't forget the National WW1 Memorial and Museum in Kansas City, Mo.


As Steve said war memorials can be found everywhere in the UK. You could reach any one of 4 I know of in about 10 minutes on a bike from my house in suburban SW London. The names of those who died in WW2 often seem an after thought carved in any available space - there wasn't supposed to be another.
Some villages/parishes didn't lose anybody, they were known as thankful villages, but they often still erected memorials. One of these I have visited in the Cotswold's is rather ironically named Upper Slaughter.

For me, and maybe others of my age, the loss of the men and women who I grew up with and who remembered or fought in WW1 and 2 always seems a turning point. My own children have not known anyone from WW1 and their grandparents were young and talk little about WW2.

I taught for a few years and remember realising that the children I taught had never had any thought or concept of the fear of nuclear holocaust, that I remember so well from my own childhood.

I am (only!) 45.

Best

Mike

My "Western History" Education never reach that. Only when I did my Master of PA when I studied the Essence of Decision did I learn about the dilemma of Germany -- they cannot follow order to be ready (mobilise) without fighting, once started their only training is to fight on both fronts!

My female classmates in the Arts stream who did the World War I still confused me about the significance of that prince being killed. Only remember the rhyme of the phrase "Triple Entente". Also, not get the Eastern Question happened a bit before and around that time. Anyway it is East but not that East.

For all the wars, it is quite hard to get this war. The last war I learn is the Napoleon war which is so much simple. And the fighting is real and heroic (on both sides as a bystander). This one is not. Both side just killed each other (in the thing they dig) and die depended upon when the wind blow (the chorine). Most killed by the flu instead. The whole war is silly and a waste of life. There is no Nazi to fight. No villain. Just human killed each other for some nobles?

By the way, I still think that World War I is not really a world war. Just like World series is not a world level match, only Olympic and World Cup etc are. The only world war so far happen is World War II.

May be there is a shift of German colonies (possibly Tsingtao as the beer) in the Far East as a consequence of WW1. But nothing much happened in the (Far) Eastern Front. Surprise to learn that Japan is involved that much. Have to check my history books.

James: If they go to Tyne Cot, to the Menin Gate, to Verdun or to Thiepval, the numbers are inescapable. Particularly the savage litany of "A Soldier of The Great War - Known Unto God"; "Un Soldat Inconnu"; or "Ein Deutscher Soldat". The massed graves of the combatant nations mean more than a mere tally of numbers so large as to be meaningless.

World War I memorials tend to have a certain optimism. The "Great War" was the "war to end all wars."

It seems to me that the more appropriate style of memorial for World War I would resemble the Holocaust Memorial.

World War I was not the "war to end all wars." It was a 4 year period during which utter mediocrities like Lloyd George and Czar Nicholas II sent millions of young men to their deaths in a series of industrialized slaughter pens. When French soldiers mutinied in 1917, the revolt was put down with a savagery that was as brutal as almost anything the Nazis did. If you protested the war in the United States, you went to jail.

The British supreme commander in 1916, Douglas Haig, never visited the front. He was afraid he'd go soft and not be able to send 500,000 English kids to their deaths in a few weeks. We all know the names Hitler and Stalin. But Douglas Haig? He's utterly forgotten.

The best World War I photographs all have the same aesthetic as the museum at Auschwitz. They make it clear that the western front was not a war in a traditional sense but a death factory.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Buckles.

Living memory is not necessarily all that short. There are still people around who can remember people who were born in the 1830s (my dad, for one). Consider Mr. Buckles himself until his passing yesterday. If he had known an elder, perhaps a grandparent in their mid 80s when he was a boy, his would be living memory of a person from the 1820s. And if that elder had met the very old Thomas Jefferson in the early 1820s and told Mr. Buckles about it, Today's living memory would extend to the American revolution.

In fact, I believe there is or was a retired Virginia state senator in our times who did in fact recount Thomas Jefferson just that way-through his grandfather who had met him as a small boy. I've been trying to find the internet link since I read of it 3 or 4 years ago.

I meant that my dad can remember people born in the 1830s whom he met as a small child-he himself was born during WWI.

From Mike Shimwell (only 45!), "My own children have not known anyone from WW1 and their grandparents were young and talk little about WW2."

Living memory is an odd topic for me, as I am (only!) 41, yet my father was a B-17 pilot in WW2, while my grandfather was "too old" for WW1. Youngest son of a youngest son...

My own very young son sits with his (89 y.o.) grandfather and listens to what it was like to "drive a big metal plane." Someday we'll talk about *why* his grand-dad flew planes, but in the meanwhile they're making each other laugh from different ends of the human lifetime.

Indeed, the "Lost Generation," a term coined by Ernest Hemingway in "The Sun Also Rises" (although he attributes it to Gertrude Stein).

I'm hoping we have another lost generation soon; the lost generation of HDR images, not unlike the shot of the Oak Park River Forest War Memorial that you used. :-/

(Sorry. I'm generally very "to each his own" but this dude just can't abide HDR.)

Mr. Buckles

Thank you for your service. Rest in peace.

Present Arms--------------------Ready Two.

Dan Berry

That looks like one bad Photoshop job.

James,
Besides the dates there is, in my view, too much also expended in translating what happened into heroism and still avoiding the absolute horror and brutality of what happened. I have been researching the events of the nearby Siegfried Line in WW2. I have been astonished by the stories of hand to hand fighting, slaughter from mines, machine guns, artillery and tanks on both sides. The absolute certainty of death in many situations. From my point of view it is inconsequential whether or not people died hero's deaths, it is the savagery, noise, screaming of men being blown apart crossing a minefield while being simultaneously machine gunned and shelled. These are the stories that should be told.

The Great War almost certainly cost my country its nationhood, and yet was the only country besides Germany to pay off its war debt. On top of the pain and suffering the war caused directly, the loss of so many young men as a percentage of its population ruined the economy of Newfoundland and eventually led to Britain forcing it to join the confederation of Canada, to the dismay of many Newfoundlanders.

With the passing of that generation, all that is left are the stories recorded in books, the awkward and grainy movie footage, and most importantly the photographs made by our peers of the time.

Fortunately, there are many powerful images from that time, which is be the first time in history that mankind has such a powerful, visual record of such a terrible event. Perhaps, just perhaps, that may help remind some of the generations that follow of the terrible loss we ALL suffered as a consequence.

"And if that elder had met the very old Thomas Jefferson in the early 1820s and told Mr. Buckles about it, Today's living memory would extend to the American revolution."

Mani,
That's not my understanding of the term--in fact, the opposite. "Living memory" means that someone now alive remembers something firsthand. Once it gets into hearsay about something earlier, that's when it becomes history. The fact that someone now living might remember someone who lived earlier, who might remember someone who lived earlier, is not "living memory"--because where does that process stop? That's turtles all the way down. If that were the case you's have to say Jesus and Caesar are within living memory.

As soon as the last person dies who has a memory (however dim) of something that happened before 1900, then the 19th century will no longer be within living memory.

Mike

As well as the numerous big memorials, there is an amazing, large collection of stereoscope images at the Hill 62 Museum at Santuary Wood near Ypres (http://www.greatwar.co.uk/ypres-salient/museum-sanctuary-wood.htm). Mostly taken by French photographers they show the utter, appalling carnage of WWI in all its horror, untramelled by the censorship that applied in the UK. They are probably the most horrific things I've ever seen. Anyone who visits the Western Front should go there to understand a tiny part of why those who came back were not the same.

@ Dennis Ng

"By the way, I still think that World War I is not really a world war. Just like World series is not a world level match, only Olympic and World Cup etc are. The only world war so far happen is World War II."

I think I would disagree with you on that (respectfully!). While the vast majority of the fighting occurred in Europe and the seas around Europe, there were actions in Asia, the Pacific, Africa and the southern parts of the Atlantic and in South American ports. Add to that the fact that because many of the major European countries involved had colonies and drew manpower and materiel from them, the effect of the war was global in a way that previous wars were not. In terms of social impact, industrialisation and on the future of Empires, it certainly was global. The whole world was changed in the course of 4 years.

A full list of the countries / colonies involved is below:
Africa -
Algeria, Angola, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, Basutoland, Bechuanaland, Belgian Congo, British East Africa (Kenya), British Gold Coast, British Somaliland, Cameroon, Cabinda, Egypt, Eritrea, French Equatorial Africa ,Gabon , Middle Congo, Ubangi-Schari, French Somaliland, French West Africa, Dahomey, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mauretania, Senegal, Upper Senegal and Niger, Gambia, German East Africa, Italian Somaliland, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique), Nigeria, Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Sierra Leone ,South Africa, South West Africa (Namibia), Southern Rhodesia, Togoland, Tripoli, Tunisia, Uganda and Zanzibar
Americas -
Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba , Falkland Islands, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Guadeloupe, Newfoundland, Nicaragua, Panama, Philippines, U.S.A, Bahamas, Barbados, British Guiana, British Honduras, French Guiana, Grenada, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago
Asia -
Aden, Arabia, Bahrein, El Qatar, Kuwait, Trucial Oman, Borneo, Ceylon, China, India, Japan, Persia, Russia, Siam, Singapore, Transcaucasia, Turkey
Australasia and Pacific Islands -
Australia, Bismarck Archipelgeo, Bounty, Campbell, Carolina Islands, Chatham Islands, Christmas Island, Cook Islands, Ducie Island, Elice Island, Fanning, Flint, Fiji Islands, Gilbert Islands, Kermadec Islands, Macquarie, Malden, Mariana Islands, Marquesas Islands, Marshal Islands, New Guinea, New Caledonia, New Hebrides, New Zealand, Norfolk, Palau Islands, Palmyra, Paumoto Islands, Pitcairn, Pheonix Islands, Samoa Islands, Solomon Islands, Tokelau Islands, Tonga
Europe -
Albania, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania , Luxembourg Malta, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Turkey.
Atlantic Islands -
Ascension , Sandwich Islands, South Georgia, St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha.
Indian Ocean Islands -
Andaman Islands , Cocos Islands, Mauritius, Nicobar Islands
Reunion , Seychelles.

“The Great War almost certainly cost my country its nationhood, and yet was the only country besides Germany to pay off its war debt. On top of the pain and suffering the war caused directly, the loss of so many young men as a percentage of its population ruined the economy of Newfoundland and eventually led to Britain forcing it to join the confederation of Canada, to the dismay of many Newfoundlanders.”

And here I thought I was the only Newfoundlander here. It’s one of the fine ironies of Confederation that Canada Day is also Memorial Day in Newfoundland, to honor those who fell in the First World War. It was always strange that while the rest of the country was celebrating, we were remembering the losses of the War and, as Scott says, the ultimate loss of a country.

Visiting the First World War memorials and cemeteries in France had a profound effect on me. The sense of pointless loss I felt seeing the graves of thousands who died for a non-descript patch of farmers field was overwhelming. And then, when travelling by train from Paris to Calais, every few minutes another war cemetery would go by and just reinforce the feeling of senseless loss. It certainly made a pacifist out of me.

Chris

@ HughofBardfield,

you are right about the Menin Gate and Tyne Cot, both of which I have visited. In both places, one stands humbled at the sheer quantity of names and graves. I have read somewhere that even these two places are dwarfed by some of the French and German cemeteries (Menin Gate is of course a memorial, not a cemetery). The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (responsible for the cemeteries holding British, Australian, Canadian war dead and so on) took a conscious decision to bury the fallen very close to where they were killed, rather than the German and French practice of centralising their dead into fewer, but terrifyingly large cemeteries.

I have seen both ends of the scale in CWGC cemeteries, when honouring the memory of two of my great uncles who died in the war. One is commemorated at Tyne Cot with his name on a plaque on a wall: he was killed at Passchendaele, but his grave site was later fought over and there was no longer a body to rebury. The other was shot down somewhere near Loos, and is buried along with his Observer, together with only 9 others, in a tiny little walled cemetery alongside a dusty road through the cornfields.

I'm thinking of watching with my daughter "Oh What a Lovely War", the 1960s Attenborough film closer to the date on which she and her classmates go to Flanders. Still in two minds, though: she is young enough to miss adult senses of irony and sarcasm (if those words adequately convey the way in which the film's message is put across). I haven't seen it for at least 25 years, but I do remember a scene right at the end when the picnickers walk through a vast field of white crosses as the camera zooms out from a tight crop to a very wide angle.

>>>>I wonder if anyone will rise to the bait about what appears to be an HDR image.

If it looks like an HDR image, it failed right there. This one SCREAMS HDR unfortunately.

>Was he the very last of all?

Claude Choles, who turns 110 tomorrow, is the last surviving active serviceman from World War I. He lives in Perth, Western Australia.

Voltz

Here is a link to an Australian who is believed to be the only surviving combat WWI vet at 110, complete with photo from back then

http://www.watoday.com.au/national/the-last-one-of-70m-claude-fought-to-live-another-day-at-110-20110303-1bft7.html

Steve

Mike thought you and others might be interested in this related article: http://www.watoday.com.au/national/the-last-one-of-70m-claude-fought-to-live-another-day-at-110-20110303-1bft7.html
About "Claude Choules is celebrating his 110th birthday with family and friends in Perth on Thursday. He's the last known male survivor of more than 70 million military personnel during WWI, after American veteran Frank Buckles passed away on Sunday also aged 110."

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