When I retired as a humanist celebrant I thought I'd stop writing this blog, but my fascination with all things death-related prompted more posts. They're just written from a slightly different perspective, that's all. Oh, and I still do the odd one, by special request.

Friday, July 01, 2016

The ways of God are strange!

57,000 casualties were sustained on the first day of the battle
It's the 100th anniversary of The Battle of the Somme today. The event at The Thiepval Memorial in France shown on TV was moving but although it included a reading from Sassoon and stressed the loss of so many ordinary working men, it didn't make any reference to the cynicism of some soldiers, the desertions, the suicides and the minds wrecked by what we now call "post-traumatic stress disorder", which was then called "shell shock". Yes, there are many tales of heroism under fire, but what about all the other stories?

The Bishop tells us: 'When the boys come back
They will not be the same; for they'll have fought
In a just cause: they lead the last attack
On Anti-Christ; their comrades' blood has bought
New right to breed an honourable race,
They have challenged Death and dared him face to face.'

'We're none of us the same!' the boys reply.
'For George lost both his legs; and Bill's stone blind;
Poor Jim's shot through the lungs and like to die;
And Bert's gone syphilitic: you'll not find
A chap who's served that hasn't found some change.'
And the Bishop said: 'The ways of God are strange!'

Siegfried Sassoon, 1916

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