The Great War (1914-18)

P4 Battlefield.jpg

Once billed as 'the war to end all wars', the First World War (often known as 'the Great War') started in August 1914, drew in countries from all over the world, and saw the industrialised slaughter of millions of young men on all sides, before reaching its conclusion with the Armistice of 11 November 1918.

The peace treaty that followed, signed at Versailles in June 1919,  saw punitive terms imposed on Germany which inflicted further suffering through crippling austerity on that country's population, creating the conditions in which first populism and then Nazism could thrive.

Its consequences continue to be felt, not just politically, but also in the current generations of many families whose grandfathers, great uncles, great-grandfathers even, were torn away from their normality to a hellish experience of trench warfare: machine-guns, mustard gas, aerial bombardment, lice and mud, only, in many cases, to lose life, limbs or sanity. 

Could this have been avoided ? As we commemorate and give thanks for the courage and sacrifice of these men, as we try to imagine what life was like for them, and for those left behind, we owe it to ourselves and our fellow humans to reflect also on this question and ask how we can ensure this tragic chapter of our history does not repeat itself. 

Further reading:

Overview of the Great War

Causes of the Great War

Yorkshire and the Great War