The 4th August 2014 marked the centenary of the start of the First World War. Some of you may be familiar with my ‘war’ poetry, pieces I’ve written inspired by WW1 poets, my favourite being Wilfred Owen. From WW1 we get a sense of waste of life but because it was so many years ago and the generation that experienced that time are gone we do not get the feeling of loss that people must have endured during that time.
WW1 marked a turning point in military history, the Royal Airforce (RAF) was formed in April 1918, amalgamating the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Squadron (RNAS) into one and marking the success of the aerial battles and the use of aerial reconnaissance. Tanks were first used as was chemical warfare. This was not like the battles of the past, WW1 marked war on an industrial scale.
But from the horror of this global conflict there were some remarkable steps forward in human history. The League of Nations was formed, the forerunner to United Nations. The Geneva Convention, although already in existence made further conventions, “rules that apply in times of armed conflict and seek to protect people who are not or are no longer taking part in hostilities, these include the sick and wounded of armed forces on the field, wounded, sick, and shipwrecked members of armed forces at sea, prisoners of war, and civilians.” to which most nations signed up to and agreed. Further to this they also agreed to the Geneva Protocol that outlawed the use of chemical weapons.
Back on home soil the British Legion was formed in 1921 to help those servicemen who were struggling to find employment, who were disabled along with the wives and families of those who did not come back. It was in 1922 that red poppies were used as a form of remembrance. The first shipments were made in France by war widows and they sold out quickly. From there disabled veterans took over making them and as the British Legion took on charity status they poppy became something you had if you made a donation.
As a writer I have been fascinated by the history of that conflict amongst other periods in our history and as a former Civil Servant I fully appreciate the sacrifice that some people can make when they put on a uniform. I will be forever humbly grateful for those that sacrifice so that I can have the lifestyle I do
I conclude with a link to a story I posted on a fansite.