Centenary of the armistice
Sir, – I was rereading some copy correspondence from a relation of mine, Lieut Arthur McCormick of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, to his father, Thomas McCormick of Blackrock, Co Dublin, dated May 23rd, 2015, and sent from Gallipoli. After writing generally of the fighting and losses, he adds as a postscript: “I don’t want any money, but would like an Irish Times and papers and a little cake and sweets and matches.”.
He was killed some two weeks later on June 5th, 1915, at the third battle of Krithia, and buried in Skew Bridge Cemetery, Gallipoli. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – Tomorrow, thousands of communities throughout Ireland, Europe and the wider world will remember those who perished during the first World War. It is heartening to think that in most countries, including our own, commemorations will focus on reconciliation and the shared memory of the loss of millions of ordinary soldiers.
However, it is essential that, in our quest for commemorative unity, we do not sanitise the history of the military forces in which these men served. The armies of all the major belligerent powers were deeply embedded in forms of class and racial violence at home and in the colonial empires. Before, during and after the war, they were deployed to crush efforts to challenge the unjust status quo by workers and by colonised peoples across the world.
Many of the leading figures of the military hierarchies, including the British war secretary Lord Kitchener, cut their teeth in bloody colonial wars while others, such as the French hero of Verdun, Phillippe Pétain, would play key roles in crimes against humanity after the war. This history cannot and should not be separated from the memory of the Great War.
On Sunday, as we rightfully honour the suffering of the soldiers of the first World War, we should also spare a thought for all those who, from Cairo to Cork, from Amritsar to Algeria, from Turin to Tonkin, were victims of a much longer history of violent conflict that is intrinsically linked to the military cultures that defined the Great War and, to a certain extent, continue to define its memory. – Is mise,
Dr DÓNAL HASSETT,
Department of French,
University College Cork,
Sir, – Let us remember the sacrifice of so many with gratitude and humility. And with a firm resolve to never allow the horrors of war to be inflicted on our shared continent ever again. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Many thanks to Bobby McDonagh for reminding us that “civilised and tolerant Britain still exists” (Opinion, October 31st). His recollection of finding poppy wreaths placed by British schoolchildren on graves in the German war cemetery at Langemark reminded me of a memorial tablet I noted many years ago in the chapel of New College, Oxford.
A number of German names were listed on the tablet, with a general inscription as follows: “In memory of the men of this college who coming from a foreign land entered into the inheritance of this place and returning fought and died for their country in the war 1914-1919”. – Yours, etc,
FELIX M LARKIN,