Whilst looking through old photos a few days ago, I came across a copy my grandfathers discharge papers. Within the handwritten text, it advised of his inability to be an adequate soldier, due to having his leg amputated just above the knee, from injuries received whilst on active duty at the Battle of the Somme, (World War 1).
My father fought at the Battle of Monte Cassino, one of the most brutal exchanges in the Second World War.
The experience probably killed him, mentally at least.
What must it have been like to go to those battlefields, knowing the chances of coming back were slim. Those two great Wars, where millions upon millions were killed or maimed, must have been truly Hellish.
So, would I have fought or go fight in those and the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Small wars in comparison, which have went on longer than those two World Wars, although with a death toll minimal in comparison ?
Increments in daily casualties, are informed in tens or twenties, not in thousands.
In most cases not from gallant combat, but from deadly suicide bombers.
Still, what must it be like knowing that such an ugly death is highly likely?
What is it like to be in the thrust of battle?
The military interventions that we,the UK, have been involved with, in Iraq and Afghanistan, have no comparison to the two world wars of the last century in terms of death toll, we are sending young men and women out there as crash test dummies for the sake of military proliferation, then when they come back as amputees, they are soon forgotten, homeless and jobless and that is as equal a humilation for them as it was for the amputees coming back from the Somme.
I have lived free from dictatorship, because of the participation, ( I won’t say courage, because , I don’t know) of my father and grandfather and I will remember them and all the others.
What is it good for?