‘A LESSON of war’ by Gordon Cann (Letters, November 6) contains some sobering thoughts on World War One, that the troops were told would be over by Christmas 1914.

Once the “over the top lads and at ‘em" slaughter mentality was run, the war deteriorated into a 500 miles long stalemate of trench warfare where shells, poison gas, both chlorine and mustard, along with snipers, ruled and British and German officers, the prime targets, lost their lives being shot though the head by snipers without ever seeing their enemy.

Four long years later, in the spring of 1918, the trench stalemate for the British took a terrible turn for the worse when the Germans, who by then had defeated the Russian army, found this had released over 50 divisions of men and machines with which to launch a spring offensive against the British lines. It was during this spring offensive, the man who later became my father, was shot through both hips and met my mother while he was recovering in Netley hospital.

To fight off this new German March offensive in 1918, Field Marshal Douglas Haig requested, but was refused by a government fearful of the losses, more men, leaving the British Army depleted of fighting men and exhausted after four years of warfare.

It wasn’t until the arrival of fresh and better armed Americans that the tide finally turned and by August 1918 Germany asked for, and was granted, an armistice which was finally signed in France on the 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month, the same year.

What is not said? All British civilians below the rank ‘middle class’ and their wives and children did not live in a democracy, as they had no right to vote, and for those who have forgotten, no woman of any class was allowed to vote at all until after 1918 when women over the age of 30 were given the vote. This was changed in 1928.

What good really came from the ‘war to end all wars’? The upside was all adult men and women of Britain became voting citizens by 1928 for the first time and had to get to grips with the strange idea of “freedom of thought” and "freedom of decision” given them under the new rules of government. But a new study undertaken recently of 30 democratic countries applying democracy and fairness to their populations yields Britain in 29th place and is summed up here with “You won’t get what they promised you, so why bother?”

The downside was we ‘sleepwalked’ into yet another war with the same country a mere 20 years later having negotiated in November 1918 a ‘peace to end all peace’.


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