This weekend marks the Centenary of WWI, a time for reflection and remembrance…

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I share a personal family anecdote.

My grandfather’s brother served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during WW1, serving some time in Egypt.  Within his line of duty, he treated casualties from both sides. It is difficult to comprehend the atrocities he would have encountered and been forced to deal with on a daily basis. He became friends with one of his German patients, who out of gratitude gave him his field binoculars.

During WW2 whilst carrying out his duties as a member of the home guard he was shot in the face with blanks which blinded him for a time.  In 1942 he shot his wife before shooting himself; my aunt still remembers the day the news came to the rest of the family.  There was an inquest which concluded that his being shot in the face had caused blood clots which led to the actions he took.

Unlike his brother, my grandfather didn’t serve in WW1 although he did try to join the Navy on two occasions.  On the first occasion he did join up and received the ‘King’s shilling’ only to be told by his mother to take it back.  The second time he tried to join up his boss persuaded him against it.  He was in a reserved occupation and therefore not obliged to sign up and take part in the conflict.

Some years ago the German field binoculars were passed on to me along with a pair of my grandfather’s binoculars.  The binoculars that belonged to my great uncle are a poignant reminder of the futility of war and the consequences of power and greed but most importantly they remind me of man’s humanity to his fellow men.

When I went to get the binoculars out of the cupboard to take the photograph to go with this post I got both pairs of binoculars out and it was only then that I realised that the second pair were English Army issue from WW1 and that they must have belonged to my great uncle before my grandfather.

This personal story highlights the effects of PTSD, that many service men suffer, even now in more recent conflicts.

9 Comments CherryPie on Nov 10th 2018

9 Responses to “Consequences of War”

  1. Cherie

    My maternal grandfather was also in WW1, mainly in Cairo and then Beersheba. He was a talented linguist, and was appointed as an official translator between the Russian, British and Australian Armies. He also spoke German and could participate in interviews with captured prisoners.

    Fortunately he survived the war, minus one kidney :(

  2. A very moving, thoughtful and poignant post.

  3. Amfortas says:

    Thank you for adding that to my Tribute in the Tavern, CherryPie. One can only weep for such men as your grand-uncle. War may bring glory to some but also pain and suffering to so many more.

    • CherryPie says:

      There are so many similar stories. I was listening to more recent ones as I watched (on the BBC) the wreath laying at the cenotaph this morning.

      Sadly man does not learn from history and continues to repeat the same mistakes. As you replied in your post:

      “Humans are what humans do. War is part of the human condition. As long as there are the wicked and the stupid there will be conflict.”

  4. A moving story. The Peter Jackson film is on BBC2 tonight. I think it will be hard to watch

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