Friday, 1 July 2016

One hundred years ago today

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One hundred years ago today my grandfather advanced on the Somme.

One fifth of our men did not come back. Granddad was one of the lucky 80%. He came back with a disgust for Douglas Haig and a lifelong huge admiration for Lloyd George.

We used to have the playing cards my grandfather had in the First World War - but my sister or mother accidentally threw them away. That happened twenty years ago but I have not forgiven it.


I learnt today from the BBC that Hitler was there too.



                  After Blenheim






 
IT was a summer evening, 
  Old Kaspar's work was done, 
And he before his cottage door 
  Was sitting in the sun; 
And by him sported on the green         5
His little grandchild Wilhelmine. 
  
She saw her brother Peterkin 
  Roll something large and round, 
Which he beside the rivulet 
  In playing there had found:  10
He came to ask what he had found 
That was so large and smooth and round. 
  
Old Kaspar took it from the boy, 
  Who stood expectant by; 
And then the old man shook his head,  15
  And with a natural sigh— 
"'Tis some poor fellow's skull," said he, 
"Who fell in the great victory. 
  
"I find them in the garden, 
  For there's many here about;  20
And often when I go to plough 
  The ploughshare turns them out. 
For many thousand men," said he, 
"Were slain in that great victory." 
  
"Now tell us what 'twas all about,"  25
  Young Peterkin he cries; 
And little Wilhelmine looks up 
  With wonder-waiting eyes; 
"Now tell us all about the war, 
And what they fought each other for."  30
  
"It was the English," Kaspar cried, 
  "Who put the French to rout; 
But what they fought each other 
  I could not well make out. 
But everybody said," quoth he,  35
"That 'twas a famous victory. 
  
"My father lived at Blenheim then, 
  Yon little stream hard by; 
They burnt his dwelling to the ground, 
  And he was forced to fly:  40
So with his wife and child he fled, 
Nor had he where to rest his head. 
  
"With fire and sword the country round 
  Was wasted far and wide, 
And many a childing mother then  45
  And newborn baby died: 
But things like that, you know, must be 
At every famous victory. 
  
"They say it was a shocking sight 
  After the field was won,  50
For many thousand bodies here 
  Lay rotting in the sun; 
But things like that, you know, must be 
After a famous victory. 
  
"Great praise the Duke of Marlbro' won,  55
  And our good Prince Eugene"— 
"Why 'twas a very wicked thing!" 
  Said little Welhelmine; 
"Nay—nay, my little girl," quoth he, 
"It was a famous victory.  60
  
"And everybody praised the Duke 
  Who this great fight did win"— 
"But what good came of it at last?" 
  Quoth little Peterkin. 
"Why that I cannot tell," said he,  65
"But 'twas a famous victory."

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