This is a great site about the Great War Centenary (2014-2018) – it’s got some incredible photographs just on the first page! I love looking at old photographs like this. Who were these men? What did they think of the war? Each other? Did they have families?
Although I’ve studied American history since school, I was really interested in the First World War in Year 9 after we briefly studied the conflict and visited the battlefields in France and Belgium. It was only for a weekend, but it remains one of the best trips I have ever done. It was really emotional to see row upon row of headstones, the scars of trenches on the landscape, and to hear the Last Post Service at Menin Gate, where every night, the names of soldiers who died in the war are read. I’d really like to go back, as the Great War still fascinates me.
I didn’t watch the recent television programme Birdsong, though I read the book many years ago. I did watch an interview with Eddie Reymayne, who played the lead character in the series, about his reaction to visiting the tunnels and trenches of France. In one particular tunnel, they came across a poem written by a soldier, etched in chalk:
“If in this place you are detained, Don’t look around you all in vain, But cast your net and you shall find, That every cloud is silver lined… Still.”