The Battle of the Somme began 90 years ago today. By the end of the day 20,000 young British men were dead, 40,000 more were injured. By the end of the battle one million people had been killed or wounded.
These were the parents of my grandparents generation. Except they probably weren’t, because so many of them died. They called them The Lost Generation. Imagine what the world might have been like if we had not lost so many bright young men on that one day. What might they have achieved? What diseases would we be without? Would we have avoided other wars?
This was the defining moment for a generation that grew up to send their sons off to another horrendous war, one that would also come to their towns in the form of air raids. Everyone must have lost someone they knew in the First World War—in mud and noise and horror—only to go through it again twenty years later.
Today we can watch bombs being dropped, exploding, in real time. But how many of us are really touched by the death and the awfulness?
But our history must not be forgotten. It is horrible and important.
90 years sounds like a long time, but my grandparents were born around this time, raised by people who went through the awful shock of The Somme and other WWI battles. My parents were raised by the children born during WWI and raised in the shadow of WWII. It’s not that long ago. These were real people, real families, all ruined by nation-building and the greed of the ‘great’.