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Visions of angels and protection during WW1

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by Principled, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. Charis

    Charis Active Member

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    Talking of the 1914 Christmas truce, as this thread was, I've just learned something that was almost airbrushed out of history: there was also, in some areas of the front, a Christmas truce in 1915. British army officers tried to prevent this second truce from happening and claimed officially that it never did, but several accounts from soldiers still exist — including this diary by Private Robert Keating, which has recently been donated to a Welsh military archive:

    1915 WW1 diary gives account of second Christmas truce

    Here's an excerpt from the article with quotes from Keating's diary:

    Keating also explains how British soldiers shouted greetings to the German soldiers "over the way" on the morning of Christmas Day.

    Then, when they saw them standing on their parapets, they decided to greet them and "chatted about old England" despite shouts from an officer to return.

    Keating goes on to say that their German counterparts said they "were absolutely fed up" and believed "the war would end in a few months in our favour".

    Later, he tells how a senior officer "came round the trenches and told every fellow to shoot any German he saw" but "no one took any notice".

    Then, on Christmas evening, after a "good supply" of rum had been commandeered, he explains how he was roused from his shelter to find Scots Guards and RWF, now known as the Royal Welsh, clustered around a "burning brazier" on top of a parapet.

    He writes: "The Germans were sending up star lights and singing - they stopped, so we cheered them and we began singing Land of Hope and Glory and Men of Harlech et cetera - we stopped and they cheered us.

    "So we went on till the early hours of the morning and the only thing that brought us down was one of our machine guns being turned on us - fortunately, no one was killed."
     
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  2. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Charis,

    So good to hear that despite official orders, the spirit of peace and goodwill still managed to break through at Christmas!

    Love and peace,

    Judy
     
  3. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    The second half of Good Morning Sunday yesterday was dedicated to the first day of the Somme battles - the terrible day when the men went "over the top" and 19,240 died on that very first day. Calre Balding had two very interesting interviews - one with Martin Purdy of Harp and a Monkey (wonderful music). Martin, apart from being a talented musician, is also a WW1 historian and I was grateful to hear him say how important the role that faith played in the war. It's worth listening to the whole second half - drag the slider along to just past one hour: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07g7l5x

    The next segment was the moving story of the 19240 Shrouds of the Somme, (just 12 minutes) which is an outdoor exhibition in Exeter from the 1st of July for a week. This is a photo of Rob Heard, the artist, with the shrouds: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03zbmfj/p03zb72h He said that as awesome as the Tower Poppies were - the rivers of blood, yet they were not individual humans and his whole philosophy is that we should never forget the horror and futility of war, but should honour those who gave their lives for our future.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03zjkm3 19240 12" figures have been made and sewn into shrouds, to represent the individual soldiers who died. The story behind their making and research is incredible - such love and dedication. This is the website of the art installation: http://www.thesomme19240.co.uk/
     
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  4. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    I came across an article today titled “The Bible and World War One”

    These excerpts are from it:

    The Bible was a defining influence on British culture across class divides. From the public school to the Sunday school, from art and music to political debate, the Bible was in the blood of British people….

    When war broke out on 4 August 1914, every member of the British Armed Forces received a New Testament as a standard part of his kit: uniform, gun, boots, Bible….

    But for most soldiers the Bible represented something familiar and reliable. It gave hope and consolation during times of extreme suffering. It was a link with home, happiness, the past and a longed-for future….

    ‘There is no other book that was as widely owned or read in the trenches,’ says Dr Snape.

    ‘It is hard to understand British society at the time of World War One if you subtract the Bible from it.’

    Dr Michael Snape, Reader in Religion, War and Society at the University of Birmingham.

    https://www.biblesociety.org.uk/what-we-do/england-and-wales/world-war-1/
     
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  5. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    Watching the moving remembrance ceremonies in the UK and in Thiepval, northern France tonight (the first day of the Somme battles on July 1st 1916) I was reminded of a very precious book that survived a bombardment and was given to me by the sister of one of our Tommies.

    When World War 1 began, The Christian Science Mother Church in Boston Mass. provided tiny sets of the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (a book which unlocks the healing and protecting power of the Bible) that the soldiers could fit into their breast pockets.

    The tiny suede WWI Science and Health was given to a dear lady I once knew, called Vera, by her brother. Vera and Len Medlock moved to Surrey from Frinton-on-Sea so their nephew could look after them in their old age, but he sadly died and then Len did. I became quite close to Vera and when she eventually moved to a nursing home back in Essex I visited her there a few times.

    During one of my visits, she asked me to open a drawer and take out the tiny book, wrapped in tissue paper. She said she didn't want the Science and Health to remain in the nursing home, as if anything happened to her she has no family left and the staff would simply throw this tatty old book out. So she gave it to me to take care of. She told me what she could remember of the story and I wrote it down. She thought that a testimony had been published in the Christian Science periodicals, but I’ve not found it.

    Her brother’s name was Ernest Robert Dawson and he signed up when he was only 17 before he'd finished school, which greatly upset his mother. Communications were very poor in those days and the family knew nothing of his injuries until they were contacted by a hospital up in Lancashire saying that he was dying of his injuries and to come immediately.

    They learnt later that he had been struck by a shell and his arm had been blown off. He would have been killed but for the fact that he had this little suede set of the two books in his uniform pocket, over his heart. The Bible was shattered, but the Science and Health under it survived intact. He laid unconscious for quite some time and was assumed to be dead, but something happened (she couldn’t remember) which was quite miraculous and he was found and picked up by some nuns and eventually shipped home, but never regained consciousness. He had blood poisoning I think and death was imminent. Because of this, the hospital left him in filthy stained sheets and didn't shave him.

    When the family got this call, the father rushed up north by train. A Christian Science practitioner (healer) called Mrs Sherwal was contacted and she came to the house late at night and asked them to all kneel and pray together. Vera was only six at the time but remembered it clearly. When Mrs Sherwal left she asked them to let her know what time the healing took place.

    The father arrived at the hospital the following morning and was told that his son was in a corner. He saw a bearded man sitting up and waving at him and grinning and asked where his son was. The young man said "Father, it's me". (Expecting to see him in a coma and also because of the filth and the beard, he hadn't recognised him) When the hospital was asked at what time he regained consciousness it was exactly the time the family knelt in prayer together.

    When Ernest came home he gave it to Vera and wrote a rather formal dedication to her at the front (which I wish I’d written down.) I often stroked that tatty old suede book and thought of the adventures it had and of the remarkable story around it. I’ve since passed it onto the daughter of a friend for safe-keeping.

    I didn’t take a photo of it, but here is a page of more WW1 memories, including a Bible [​IMG] embedded with shrapnel, which also saved a soldier’s life.

    http://blog.europeana.eu/2012/05/extraordinary-personal-stories-of-world-war-1/

    Here’s another Bible that saved a life:

    http://www.mylearning.org/wwi-soldier-frederick-peil-saved-by-his-bible/p-4572/
     
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  6. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    As today is Armistice Day, I am particularly remembering all the men who died a hundred years ago during the battles of the Somme, including my father’s cousin Vesey. We visited his grave and a few of the hundreds of battlefields and cemeteries in France and Belgium last month. It’s a very sobering experience, but I really want to try to understand it all more and to return.

    The beauty of the cemeteries is hard to describe, especially those in the Somme, surrounded by farmland and woods. Everywhere the birds are singing. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission do astounding work in caring for 23,000 cemeteries and memorials in 154 countries. They are immaculate, even those 100 years old, with precise edges to the grass and planted with flowers, shrubs and trees that will make the visiting families feel at home and comforted. They are memorial gardens as well as cemeteries.

    Vesey was buried in an English cemetery, which had been beside a casualty station. The grave stones were Portland stone and had the gorgeous floribunda rose Remembrance, which looked very much like poppies, plus low shrubs for colour throughout the year. The Canadian memorials and cemeteries we saw had maple trees. Here’s a newspaper article about the gardeners. We were told that many of them have been caring for the same plots for generations and it’s a true labour of love for them.

    Everywhere we went, it was so apparent how much the French and Belgium people feel the debt of gratitude to the men and women from all corners of the world – Africa, Australia, Canada, India, Newfoundland, New Zealand, USA, (and any I’ve left out) who gave their lives in both world wars to liberate them. My sister was visiting a friend in a little village in Holland a few years ago and it was the day of their annual parade marking the day the British liberated them in WW2. As soon as people learnt she was English, they were coming up and shaking her hand, thanking her!

    There were European schoolchildren at all the museums and memorials, learning about the past – and hopefully strengthening their resolve never to let such horror happen again in Western Europe. The last post at the Menin Gate in Ypres was very moving. It’s been held every single evening since 1928, (except when it was occupied by the Germans during WW2) Representatives from different countries and battalions take part every night at 8pm. The traffic is stopped at 7,30 and a hush comes upon the place. We were astounded – it was just a normal wet Tuesday night and yet, there were hundreds and hundreds of people there, paying their respects to the fallen, including bus loads of school children sitting on the cold cobbles waiting for it to start. The Buglers of the Last Post and the firemen of Ypres are there every night.

    This was made by a Canadian group and gives some of the atmosphere leading up to it, but shows the middle and the end and doesn’t include the saying of the immortal words:

    “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
    We will remember them.”
     
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  7. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    This was a poignant video to find today:



    Leonard Cohen recites “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae
     
  8. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    An apology. When I mentioned the countries who took part in the First World War – I neglected to name the obvious. England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales (in alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone). ;)


    This is a list of ALL the countries (on both sides) who were involved in that war – though some only declared war and did not see any action. http://europeanhistory.about.com/od/worldwar1/a/ww1countriesint.htm


    A surprising player in the war that I only learnt about while we were in the Somme, was China. Chinese labourers were sent to France to dig trenches initially, but ended up doing many needed jobs, with practically no recognition.

     
  9. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    The Shrouds of the Somme exhibition in July has now moved to Bristol Cathedral for a few days. It is overwhelming in its scale - and that was only one day.






     
  10. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    [QUOTE="scommstech, post: 728051, member: 29352"]I was on You Tube a couple of days ago, reading an article when something in the comments caught my eye. Some one had added their comments and also told of an American company, regiment or such called the 91st, who saw action in France during WW I. They got this name because their commanding officer got them to read the 91st Psalm daily. The writer went on to talk of an engagement where other American troops had losses but this 91st lot had non.
    I have no idea if this is true but it certainly made me think.[/QUOTE]

    Hi Scomm,

    You must wonder why I've resurrected this post of yours - it's because I just came across something about it. Also, with Nov 11th coming up in a couple of weeks time, I've been thinking about all those unselfish men who were prepared to give their lives so we would have peace and freedom (though in the case of WW1, that freedom didn't last long).

    I was looking up the 91st Psalm and stories of protection, when I came across this 2003 archive. I tried emailing the author with my finding, but it bounced back.

    This is the link. THE TRUTH ABOUT THE 91ST PSALM
    (Actually, it should be called, "The truth about Colonel Whittlesey and the non-existant 91st Brigade")
    I like this from the blog:

    How do I feel at this point about the little book, "Psalm 91: The Ultimate Shield"? It is awesome! I now have a copy in my purse, but it is not the book that brings me comfort, but my perceived truth of the Psalm.

    And I love the story of the 91st Infantry Brigade of the U.S. Expeditionary Army and WWI. I really wanted it to be true.

    A friend of mine asked me why I was so bent on trying to prove or disprove it. "It's a good story. Why can't you just leave it alone?" he asked.

    Truth, even in its purest state, can be so very hard to recognize. Even when we think we catch a glimpse of the real thing, we often find it to be ever so elusive. I suppose I was born searching for truth. In death, I fully expect to continue my quest.

    I do think our faith grows with the hearing and telling of good stories. I just want to know, as far as it is humanly possibly to know, that the stories I hear and tell are true. Is that too much to ask?

    I've ordered the book and look forward to reading it. I had always thought I would compile a book of Psalm 91 experiences myself one day, (having had my own 91st Psalm flying experience.) I was inspired with Hope Price's book "Angels, True Stories of How They Touch Our Lives."


    To return to what I feel is a possible explanation for this myth. I have since found a Lieutenant Colonel Charles White Whittlesey, who led the "Lost Battalion" in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in October 1918 during the final stages of World War I, but he was in the 77th Division, 308th Battalion, not the 91st and his Battalion suffered heavy losses, so it was not him.

    However, Chaplain Arthur C. Whitney was part of the 91st Division (not Infantry Brigade). He was assigned to the 346th Regiment Infantry of it. The 91st Division as a whole suffered terrible losses, and to quote the blog above:
    It was taken out of the line to rest and regroup, and in late October, 1918 was sent to Flanders with the 37th Division of the AEF to fight the final weeks of the war under King Albert of Belgium. Their total casualties were about 6,100 men including 1,454 killed."

    Chaplain, Arthur C. Whitney (did his name eventually become Whittlesey through illegible handwriting or was there a confusion with the real Whittlesey?) was sent to the Army School near Langres, France, and with the 91st Division, saw active service in Belgium, assisting the British, French and Belgium armies, under the command of the King of Belgium. Mercifully I have discovered that I don't need to copy, word for word the account from the Captain of his regiment, about the great assistance to morale that Chaplain Whitney provided as it was reproduced in the Christian Science periodicals, but with his name left out.


    You can read the grateful letter from the commanding officer during the battle of Lys-Scheldte from the link below and this was included in it and I wonder whether that could have been the source of what appears to be a rather exaggerated myth:
    The chaplain stayed with me throughout the engagement in the front line, and I am glad to say, my company did not suffer a single casualty;
    Extracts from Letters

    It was good to note in the book "Christian Science Wartime Activities" that Marshall Petain, Commander-in Chief of the French Armies issued the following citation:

    Chaplain Arthur C. Whitney, 346 Regiment infantry near Waereghem, Belgium, October 31st 1918, placed himself at the head of the company and marched with it to the reserved positions. By his courageous works and his coolness he aided in keeping good order among this troop"

    and "The official record of the regiment mentions the incident as 'one of the most deadly shellings which the regiment sustained'. For this service the French Government awarded Chaplain Whitney the Croix de Guerre with bronze star."

    Arthur C. Whitney was a Christian Science practitioner (healer) and teacher and became a lecturer during WW2. Hopefully I have cleared up the mysterious story about the 91st Division who all survived by praying with the 91st Psalm every day. Clearly not true, but there were elements of it in one or more battles of its 346th Regiment. As to whether Chaplain Whitney gave all the men a copy of the 91st Psalm and asked them to memorise it and pray with it every day I can't confirm, but hey, it's possible! :p


    So many other testimonies I have included here, mention praying with the 91st Psalm and also often say that neither they nor their men were harmed.


    Love and peace,

    Judy
     
    #70 Principled, Oct 26, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
  11. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    Gosh, four years ago I started this thread to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. And here we are approaching the end - Armistice Day, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Yes, 11-11-1918

    I'm probably going to share a couple more of those wonderful experiences of protection through prayer I have shared throughout, but meanwhile, I thought you'd enjoy these videos of
    "Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers"




    Love and peace,

    Judy

     
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  12. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    Only a couple of days now to Armistice Day when the guns fell silent after four years of sheer hell.

    I’ve been looking through the hundreds of accounts I have access to of testimonies from soldiers who wrote into the Christian Science periodicals with the gratitude for protection and healing they experienced during the war and will share a couple for the very last battles. First though, of all the accounts I’ve read, none comes close to this very intimate personal letter to a friend, from the front. It’s very long and much of it discusses that weeks’ Bible Lesson that we study daily (and which constitutes our sermon on Sundays) I’ll just share my favourite bits and give the link to it so you could read all of it if you like.

    Truth's Sustaining Power
    I researched some of the British writers of these testimonies (and letters) and this is what I found out about Reginald Carlile Lavery, the writer of the letter below:
    Address: Shrewsbury, Shropshire
    Regiment or Corps: Shropshire Light Infantry, Welsh Regiment
    Regimental Number: 12927
    This describes him being able to stay cheerful and lift his men's spirits, despite spending days in water above their knees and sometimes up to their waists!
    Can't believe they didn't have gum (Wellington) boots all through that war! They had first been made out of rubber in France in 1853 and were a popular gift from home, so there's no excuse, but I guess until it started raining no-one thought about the need.

    I was watching a programme the other night which included the Battle of Passchendaele, when craters were filled with water and mud and many men drowned. They showed a map, where a place was marked "Hell Fire Corner" I wondered whether it was the same place that Reginald Lavery was describing in such a beautiful way.

    I'll add a couple more testimonies up till Sunday the 11th and then I think that will be a good time to end this thread.

    Love and peace,

    Judy
     
    #72 Principled, Nov 9, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
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  13. Zandalee

    Zandalee Active Member

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    Thank you Judy for my lesson in gratitude and humility. I had no awareness until now!
     
  14. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    Thanks so much Zandalee, that's beautiful.

    It is humbling to read these accounts. Especially after visiting the Somme in 2016 to honour my Father's young cousin who died there, I have felt very close to all these dear men. All the divisions over Brexit in the UK at this time sadden so much, when there is this unbreakable link between all the countries of mainly young men laying down their lives in the name of freedom (clearer in WW2, than WW1 i admit) and being buried in foreign soil.

    In the CS archives, we have accounts from all over Britain, Europe, South Africa, Canada and of course, the United States - everyone coming together. Two of my favourites are the German testimonies on this post: https://www.healthypages.com/commun...rotection-during-ww1.86250/page-2#post-728226

    So special.

    Love and peace,

    Judy

    PS And Zandalee, I would say you have more awareness than anyone I know! :)
     
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  15. scommstech

    scommstech Active Member

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    Hi Judy
    Those German testimonies are profound. I wonder how many people who wear a poppy think about the losses and the suffering inflicted on the Germans.
    I wonder if they have a remembrance day also, because they lost brothers and husbands too, and if a Tommy and a German were to change uniforms I'll bet that you couldn't say who was who.
     
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  16. Zandalee

    Zandalee Active Member

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    Judy, thank you! I try to stay open minded and keep my heart full of wonder. I am finding as the aging process has taken on my body and brain that has been some really good aspects one of those becoming more open and less bitter! The suffering that is happening in the world and in the past has made me realize we as humans need to be more forgiving than less!

    Judy your post as many others really brighten my day and always reminds me I need to continue to learn. Thanks you and continue to share your finding with us. Helps us stay aware!
     
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  17. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    Hello again lovely people. You are so right Scomm, there is no difference between soldiers - or anyone. We were watching a programme about the end of WW1 and how the Allies (especially the French) humiliated Germany (which directly led to WW2). I remember going through all the beautiful cemeteries on the Somme and in Belgium - all those rows of shining white gravestones. Not for the Germans. They were dumped in mass graves with plain black crosses - they even carried on the revenge towards the dead. So tragic.

    The German people have had a heavy burden of guilt on their shoulders for decades (especially because of all the evils of Nazism) and their commemorations are very low key - more families honouring their dead. It was so good to see Macron and Merkel together at the site of the signing of the Armistice today. Europe has come a long way since those dark days.

    I have always loved those war time testimonies which mention kindnesses towards those considered enemies. I wish I had marked them - I've been looking through the archives during the past few days and trawling through dozens and dozens of testimonies - found a couple more mentions of the brotherhood of mankind during WW1:

    In the year 1917 I took part in two battles in the Ypres...

    To one in a seafaring life the sustaining...
    And though these below were from WW2, I thought they were rather sweet. Christian Science was the first religion/denomination to be banned by Hitler - I think he knew it was the antidote to Nazism. Our churches were closed, all books and literature was banned and our practitioners (healers) were sent to concentration camps.

    I should like to express my... WW2 German soldier captured by the Americans

    A German soldier was reading over my shoulder

    Love and peace,

    Judy
     
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  18. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    Ever since the centenary of the beginning of WW1, in August 2014, I have been looking for accounts of how people were protected through prayer - and my especial interest is in the 91st Psalm. I even wrote to a Jewish museum back there and asked if they knew of any experiences, but didn't have a reply. I am absolutely sure that such records do exist, but they are probably in books and church magazines that aren't yet searchable online, like the Christian Science archives are. If anyone reading this knows of some experiences, please share them here!

    I keep looking and have found these two interesting pages. The first one ends with Edith Cavell and then the Christmas Truce, both of which have been mentioned in this thread.

    Stories of chivalry and compassion WW1

    The Salvation Army goes to war
     
    #78 Principled, Nov 11, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
  19. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    Last night while I was watching the Festival of Remembrance coming from the Albert Hall and seeing all three branches of military service, I realised that I had been concentrating on the men in the trenches, when of course the Navy and The Royal Flying Corps (part of the army) and Royal Naval Air Service also played a large part. Both air services merged on the 1st April 1918, towards the end of the war.

    So here is a flying account:

    In August, 1915, while in the trenches in France, I..."



    And a Naval account:

    With deep gratitude I give this...



     
  20. Principled

    Principled Well-Known Member

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    If anyone wants to get a really graphic idea of what it was like being in the trenches during WW1, just watch the BBC film, "They shall not grow old", - you need a strong stomach for much of it. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0brzkzx The old silent black and white film has been coloured and lip readers employed to find out what they were saying, plus there were many interviews with the veterans.(FOr those of you in the UK, you have until Sat 17th Nov to watch it)

    There is a scene in it where mounted soldiers are attacked and the horses injured and killed and it made me think about all the poor animals who were also sent to war.

    There is a wonderful statue of a war horse, called Poppy on the roundabout near Ascot racecourse. I'm so glad the animals are being remembered too

    Who were the real war horses of WW1?

    The animal victims of the first world war are a stain on our conscience.
     

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