Fintan O’Toole: The first World War is still being fought

A century after the Armistice of 1918, we are still living in the world it created

Two thirds of UCD students and staff who served in the first World War had backgrounds in medicine, and took up medical rather than combat roles.

It was the greatest silence in all of history. On the western front, the British and Americans were using sound waves transferred on to film to give visual signals of where the German guns were located.

A strip of such film survives in the Imperial War Museum in London, recorded on the morning of November 11th, 1918. It shows the waves of sound rising like mountains right up to 11 o’clock as gunners lined up in a grim ceremony to fire one final shell, to have, as it were, the last word on this terrible war. In some batteries, all the officers got together to pull the lanyard that triggered the firing of their great gun.

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