March 7, 2008
Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, has written and performed a poem to mark the birthday of Harry Patch, Britain’s only survivor of battle on the Western Front. I was all ready to be horrible and cynical about this, but Motion does seem to have been keen to write about how one – relatively brief – part of a life can come to dominate the whole of it. It might be an interesting addition to courses on the First World War and poetry.
Update: some interesting discussion on George Simmers’ site of this poem
March 7, 2008
1/7 Battalion Middlesex Regiment Routine Orders, Roman Way Camp, Colchester, 27 November 1940
It has been reported by the Police Authorities that in certain areas, soldiers who are desirous of catching a lift from passing motorists are adopting the practice of hailing vehicles after ‘black-out’ by standing in the middle of the road. It is obvious that under present lighting conditions this practice is one which lead [sic] to accidents and gives the motorist little chance to avoid a collision. All ranks will be informed of the need for discretion in this matter.
(1/7 Middlesex War Diary Sept-Dec 1939, June-Sept 1940, National Archives, WO 166/4461).
One of the problems in calculating casualty figures is working out who should be defined as a ‘casualty of war’. Read the rest of this entry »