Reflections on the Great War #2

Today 11 November Remembrance day many grieve for those who were lost in war. It is a day we think of all the violence which still goes on in this world. Lots of men went through a horrific war, and when they came back in heir family they often were broken and could not find their way back in normal life. Many did not have any clue of what they had to endure. Today the madness still goes on at several places on this globe.

In this world there are people who want to divide and others who want to heal. All people should try to get others to see that it has no use to fight and that wars are the worst tragedy that can come over the world, war bringing many countries in agony, because of some man their love for power.

More people should come to understand that we can only improve the world by improving the Faith and that we should not put off for tomorrow what we can do today.

 

In the November issue of the Christadelphian is spoken about

  • 100 years ago
  • Studies in Matthew’s Gospel 11 – “That it might be fulfilled …” | John Benson
  • The ministry of reconciliation | Geoff Henstock
  • Archaeology in focus 11 – Horses & riders | James Andrews
  • Reflections on the Great War (2) | Les Shears
  • Bible Companion | John Hingley
  • Enhancing our worship Suggestions for November | John Botten
  • The purpose of the Ecclesia 09 – The Ecclesia as the flock part 2 | Peter Anderton & Paul Tovell
  • Electronic Hymn book
  •  “Until seventy times seven” | Stephen Whitehouse
  • Faith Alive! Seeing the invisible | Paul Dredge
  • Book Review Beginning at Jerusalem by John M. Hellawell | Stephen Whitehouse
  • Signs of the times Russia: strong enough to act? | Roger Long
  • Israel and their Land Parting the land | Roger Long
  • Epilogue  “Examine yourselves … test yourselves” | David Caudery
  • The brotherhood near and far

and can you find this 2° article on the Great War:

Reflections on the Great War

On August 4, 1914, the British government issued an ultimatum to Germany, demanding that their troops leave neutral Belgium. Germany had declared war on France the previous day and had begun the invasion of Belgium as a precursor to the planned encirclement of Paris. Following the rejection of the ultimatum, Britain declared war on Germany at 11 pm.

The war begins

The British, Belgian and American lines of att...

The British, Belgian and American lines of attack, during the Hundred Days Offensive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many greeted this action with enthusiasm, convinced that the war was a just cause and that it would soon be brought to a successful conclusion. However, as Brother John Botten pointed out in his introductory article (Reflections on the Great War #1 100 years on), while the Royal Navy was supposedly far superior to any other navy, the British army was far smaller than the vast armies of continental Europe and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) which set off for Belgium numbered only around 120,000. If the British were to make more than a token contribution to the land war then the established principle of a volunteer army might have to be overturned. This was even more apparent by the end of August, following the battles of Mons and Le Cateau where the BEF had sustained heavy casualties and, along with the French army, been forced into a long retreat by vastly superior German forces. On September 5 (by which time the Germans had reached the River Marne and were threatening Paris), newly appointed Secretary of War, Lord Kitchener, called for 100,000 volunteers and over the next week some 175,000 enlisted. News of German atrocities committed against Belgian civilians was eagerly seized on by a jingoistic press and helped in this process. Although the German army was forced back from the Marne, much fighting lay ahead in 1914 before the front line was stabilized – roughly along a line running north from Noyon past Arras and around Ypres to the Belgian coast, and east and south to the Swiss frontier. By the end of the year the British, French and Belgians had suffered a combined total of over 1,000,000 killed, wounded or missing, the vast majority of them French. The BEF’s ability to function had been severely compromised; more and more men would be required. There was still no suggestion of any immediate need for conscription, but public opinion was becoming increasingly ‘hawkish’.

22 August 1914: "A" Company of the 4...

22 August 1914: “A” Company of the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, resting in the town square at Mons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things had not gone well at sea either and elements of the German fleet had bombarded towns along the east coast, notably Hartlepool, Scarborough and Whitby, causing over 700 casualties. One victim of those bombardments was Brother Ripley of Whitby, whose house was practically destroyed by a shell, although he escaped injury.

Objection to military service

How did the brotherhood respond to the outbreak of war and its progress over the first six months? It would be good to be able to report that there was unanimity, but alas, that was not the case. Indeed, there was not even agreement as to whether we should petition government to register our conscientious objection to military service. There are lessons here for us all.

William Ewart Gladstone Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in office 15 August 1892 – 2 March 1894

William Ewart Gladstone Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in office 15 August 1892 – 2 March 1894

The cabinet had first discussed the necessity of conscription for all males aged 18-40 back in 1875, prompting Brother Robert Roberts to suggest that “a petition to Parliament might not be without advantage”. [1] No lesser figure than William Gladstone agreed to present the petition, only for disagreements within the brotherhood about the timing of the petition to surface and it was abandoned. In 1903, perhaps prompted by the South African War, a petition signed by about forty ecclesias was prepared but not presented. Almost immediately after the declaration of war in 1914 the issue again raised its head within the community. [2] On August 13, 1914, a meeting attended by almost 1,000 persons was held at the Temperance Hall in Birmingham. The following resolutions were passed with “practical unanimity”:

“‘That this meeting records its unshaken conviction that the commandments of Christ forbid the bearing of arms and bloodshedding.’

‘That in the present state of the nation it is not desirable to present a petition praying exemption from the bearing of arms.’

‘That we agree to the form of petition that has been presented and place it on record for possible use hereafter.’”

At the same time it was noted that there was some objection to clause 7, “for reasons which need not now be stated”. [3]

The reasons for delay in registering our position with the government are difficult to fathom. There was obviously a concern that any petition should not appear to be prompted merely by any current conflict, but there does appear to have been a degree of complacency when there was no immediate threat.

Facing a time of trial

If there seemed to be agreement about our objection to military service, there was considerable disagreement about what brothers and sisters could or should do in the event of war. The original wording of clause 7 was:

“That the conscientious objection of your petitioners does not extend to strictly non-combatant branches of National Service, but only to those which involve the bearing of arms or resort to force.”

Apparently, the author of this clause intended it to mean that brothers would have no objection to work of national value in a civil capacity not involving an oath of allegiance, but it is easy to see how the wording could be misconstrued and lead to future problems. The clause was omitted from the petition that was finally presented. Nonetheless, this remained a difficult area. An article entitled, “Our Plain Duty” appeared in the September edition of The Christadelphian. The author was clear that “we may neither bear arms nor use violence”, but he went on to write:

“In free civil life brethren may be found employed about munitions of war, for in this century nearly everything can be, and is, put to military use; therefore to work in a non-combatant capacity under conscription cannot rightly be called an outrage on our faith and practice. There are already some of us who, from good Samaritan motives, are now volunteering medical, and nursing, and other kindred service …”

It may well be that almost anything could be used in the war effort, but it is concerning to read of one meeting welcoming a brother whose work “at Vickers’ gun factory” had brought him to the area. [4] How could such employment be considered appropriate?

It is easy to sit back and criticise those who were volunteering for medical work, as service in the Royal Army Medical Corps did involve taking the oath of allegiance and working under military direction. However, we should try take into account the atmosphere in which this was taking place. The government had been quick to claim that we were fighting in a just cause and pressures came on every side – the press, public opinion and even employers. We can get an idea of the sort of pressures that existed by looking at an extract from an article entitled, “Our Attitude Towards War” published in The Fraternal Visitor in October 1914:

“If ever any war were justifiable, this is one, which, from our point of view, is just … But even so, we, as Brethren in Christ, can take no hand even in this war. Not that we wish others to fight our battles; we do not. Many of us younger brethren feel so convinced of the soundness of our cause that, apart from religious scruples, we desire to take up arms on behalf of our country and in defence of all that we hold dear.” [5]

Even with a clear understanding of our duty towards God, it is evident that this was indeed a most difficult situation and not all were able to resist the instinct alluded to in the article. Thus, Sheffield (Suffolk Street) Ecclesia reported that a brother and two senior members of Sunday School had joined the RAMC, [6] while others went further and enlisted for the duration in fighting units. There are reports of this happening at Newport, Northampton, Kidderminster and York. [7] At York the brother was withdrawn from and this led to three further withdrawals, but, it appears that he had a change of heart and was able to extricate himself from the army and all were eventually restored to fellowship. [8] In other instances there was an expression of sadness and a wish that in the not too distant future they could be welcomed home again. It is difficult to be certain of the fate of all who joined up, but it seems that at least one of those brothers did not survive the conflict. [9]

The weapons of our warfare

English: French soldiers waiting assault behin...

French soldiers waiting assault behind a ditch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was appropriate that the Editorial section of The Christadelphian in November 1914 commenced with a short piece entitled, “The Weapons of our Warfare”. It began by citing 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

 

“Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

It concluded, “If we have faith in Christ we shall eschew carnal weapons and confine ourselves to ‘the sword of the Spirit’ and ‘the whole armour of God.’ If we have not faith we may ‘take the sword and perish with the sword’, as Christ has said”. [10]

Les Shears

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[1] The Christadelphian, 1878, page 85.

[2] As Brother John pointed out in his article, Lincoln Ecclesia had already had correspondence with some MPs on the subject.

[3] The Christadelphian, 1914, page 422.

[4] The Christadelphian, 1915, pages 85,86.

[5] The Fraternal Visitor, 1914, page 286. The article itself runs from pages 285-289.

[6] The Fraternal Visitor, 1914, page 346.

[7] The Fraternal Visitor, 1914, page 376; The Christadelphian, 1914, pages 525,565,566.

[8] The Christadelphian, 1915, page 189.

[9] It appears that he died of wounds at a field hospital in Merville, France on July 9, 1917.

[10] The Christadelphian, 1914, page 505.

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Preceding article: Reflections on the Great War #1

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Come to get to know more about the Christadelphians.Do find an overview of what Christadelphian people think, live and want to follow up.

Read more about them in :

  1. Who are the Christadelphians
  2. What are Brothers in Christ
  3. Two new encyclopaedic articles
  4. Review of the Christadelphians from some older articles
  5. Loving the Word
  6. Agape, a love to share with others from the Fruit of the Spirit
  7. Servant of his Father
  8. Disciple of Christ counting lives and friends dear to them
  9. Christadelphians or Messianic Christians or Messianic Jews

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Please find additional reading:

  1. All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting… George Orwell
  2. August 4, 1914 to be remembered
  3. 11 November, a day to remember #1 Until Industrialisation
  4. 11 November, a day to remember #2 From the Industrialisation
  5. 100° birthday of war and war tourism
  6. 1914 – 2014 preparations
  7. Liège 2014 remembering the Great War
  8. Mons 2014 remembering the Great War
  9. Friendship and Offer for the cause of democracy
  10. Juncker warns for possible new war
  11. Balfour Declaration of 1917 remembered
  12. Maker of most popular weapon asks for repentance
  13. Kingdom of God, a journey
  14. Which man is mentioned most often in the Bible? Jesus, Moses, Abraham or David?
  15. More Mexicans start questioning Catholic doctrine and the concept of the Trinity
  16. Improving the world by improving the Faith
  17. Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today
  18. The world Having to face a collective failure
  19. Anti-church movements and Humanism
  20. Are you religious, spiritual, or do you belong to a religion, having a faith or interfaith
  21. Do you believe in One god
  22. Looking for something or for the Truth and what it might be and self-awareness
  23. People Seeking for God 5 Bread of life
  24. How long to wait before bringing religiousness and spirituality in practice
  25. Looking for True Spirituality 8 Measuring Up
  26. Built on or Belonging to Jewish tradition #4 Mozaic and Noachide laws
  27. Tapping into God’s Strength by Waiting on Him
  28. Come ye yourselves apart … and rest awhile (Mark 6:31)
  29. Faith because of the questions
  30. A rebellious movement founded on a fake?
  31. Flowing out from a genuine spiritual “heart”
  32. Believing what Jesus says

 

 

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You may find on WordPress additional literature:

  1. 100 years on – we remember
  2. Armistice Day, 100 years after
  3. A Century On – Remember The Fallen
  4. A WW1 Centenary Image
  5. Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red…
  6. In Flander’s Fields…
  7. In Flanders’ Fields
  8. In Flanders Fields, by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1915)
  9. In Flanders Field, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
  10. Sable – The Green Fields of France
  11. 11-11-11
  12. Armistice Day
  13. Veterans / Remembrance Day 2014
  14. Spotlight on Remembrance Sunday
  15. Poppy Day vs Pocky Day?
  16. Poppy Day
  17. Poppy Day by Paul Hunter
  18. Poppy Day: 11/11
  19. The Poppy’s Bonfire.
  20. In Rememberance….Postcards from the Past
  21. Remembrance Day 1
  22. Remembrance Day 2
  23. Remembrance 3
  24. remembrance 4
  25. Rememberence day 5
  26. Remembrance day 6
  27. Remembrance Day 2014 1
  28. Remembrance Day 2014 2
  29. Remembering
  30. Remembrance Day (With a insight to my family and the Great Wars)
  31. Remembering my father on November 11
  32. Remembrance Hill
  33. November 11, Remembrance Day in Ypres (Belgium)
  34. 11.11.14 Lest we Forget
  35. Lest we forget 1
  36. Lest We Forget 2
  37. Lest We Forget 3
  38. Lest we forget: Harper’s war on Canadian rights and freedoms
  39. Lest we forget, message from the Minister of Veterans Affairs; City of Edmonton to hold Remembrance Day Services
  40. Lest We Forget – A Peace Remembered
  41. Europe remembers Armistice Day with ceremonies
  42. Peace
  43. A day of remembrance, a day of celebration too
  44. The price of freedom
  45. Freedom and the Importance of Remembrance
  46. Will we take responsiblity for our freedom and democracy?
  47. Poem for Armistice Day 11 11 2014
  48. This Tranquil Fields of Slumber
  49. The Parade
  50. Like the generations of leaves…
  51. Red Poppies
  52. One Of Many – Remembrance Day
  53. Remembrance Day Poppies at the Tower of London
  54. Remembrance Day: A Tribute To Our Brave Soldiers…
  55. Poppy ‘s up, November the 11th today, Montana Hotel for our Heros
  56. Poppy Day 2014
  57. Thoughts of poppies and absent friends
  58. The Remembrance Sunday Parade Setting Off, Bethlehem Street, Grimsby, 09/11/14.
  59. Remembering the Fallen on Veteran’s Day
  60. Hamilton honours fallen hometown soldier Nathan Cirillo
  61. Two Minutes
  62. Poppies
  63. Pixel Prose Challenge: Poppy Pride
  64. Remembrance Sunday: The Poppy Factory
  65. Remembrance Sunday poppies…
  66. Poppy, Poppies, and Others
  67. Please don’t remove the Tower poppies
  68. A Lily Warne poppy and other Dartmoor connections
  69. Prince Harry Rides Double Decker Bus for Poppy Day
  70. LaSalle honours and remembers veterans on Remembrance Day
  71. Video Southwold Memorial Service
  72. 100 Years Ago
  73. This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time
  74. Full Pundit: How Canada remembers
  75. Photos: Canada remembers
  76. In Photos: Winnipeg remembers
  77. Maple Leaf Journal – 11/11 Remembrance Day
  78. A Poppy for Armistice Day from a ‘Small’ Cat…
  79. November 11, 2014
  80. Twa Corbies for Poppy Day
  81. …remembrance day, patriotism for the profits of war…
  82. Happy Veterans/Remembrance Day everyone
  83. We will remember them – British Legion service
  84. Satire in the saddest of times
  85. Appreciation on Remembrance Day
  86. Watercolor: Remembrance Poppies
  87. My first post– about the Last Post
  88. To remember you have to know
  89. For the Fallen ~ Robert Laurence Binyon
  90. Remembrance Sunday
  91. Poppy politics
  92. World War I Memorial, Part Two
  93. Warriors Day
  94. The Tale of Two Poppies
  95. CyPix: Ames Ambulance Unit
  96. Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), stiched portrait, finished
  97. Veterans Day: An Origin Story
  98. The Teenage Soldiers of WWI
  99. Four Places to Discover World War I History
  100. Was fashion responsible for the outbreak of the First World War?
  101. What Soldiers Read
  102. Veterans Day And Remembrance Day Are Marked Across The Globe

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  • The Eight Birmingham brothers who served in World War One – and all came home (birminghammail.co.uk)
    Birmingham has a proud tradition of answering the call from King and Country in both World Wars. Huge sacrificeswere made. Justine Halifax tells the heart-warming – and heart-breaking tale of Corporal James Fair, his eight sons, grandsons, and great grandsons, who all served in the forces.“The last of the fighting Fairs is dead” – is how the passing of the eighth son of Birmingham’s Corporal James Fair was reported in the Birmingham Mail’s predecessor newspaper 60 years ago.
  • Armistice Day 2014: We remember them – 100 years on (dorsetecho.co.uk)
    The 1st Battalion would have a long andeventfulwar – all of it on the Western Front. From the start, they were present when the BEFfirstencountered the German Army at Mons and through the long and exhausting retreat that followed, via another clash at LeCateau.In the following year, they experienced one of the first poison gas attacks at Hill 60, on the Ypres Salient.They then suffered appalling casualties at Authuille Wood on July 1, 1916 – the notorious first day of the Battle of the Somme.
  • The Road to Ypres (oup.com)

    We have celebrated the fumbling British skirmishes at Mons and Le Cateau in late August, but largely forgotten the French triumph at the Battle of the Marne which first stemmed and threw back the German wheeling attack through Belgium into Northern France under the Schlieffen Plan. We have already bypassed the spirited Franco-British attempts at the Battle of the Aisne in September to take the Chemin des Dames. The Race to the Sea was under way: the British and German Armies desperately trying to turn their enemy’s northern flank.

    Throughout, the performance of the British Expeditionary Force has often been exaggerated. Imaginative accounts of Germans advancing in massed columns and being blown away by rapid rifle fire are common. A rather more realistic assessment is that the British infantry were steadfast enough in defence, but unable to function properly in coordination with their artillery or machine guns. The Germans seemed to have a far better grip of the manifold disciplines of modern warfare.

  • Still bearing the scars of war, the beautiful landscapes which were once the scene of some of World War One’s bloodiest fighting (dailymail.co.uk)
    The collection, called Fields of Battle-Lands of Peace 14-18, form an open-air exhibition featuring 60 freestanding photographs, each measuring 1.2 metres (4ft) by 1.8 metres (5ft 10in).
  • Liveblogging World War I: October 20, 1914 The First Battle of Ypres (delong.typepad.com)

    Strategically located along the roads leading to the Channel ports in Belgian Flanders, the Belgian city of Ypres had been the scene of numerous battles since the sixteenth century.  With the German failure at the Battle of the Marne in September 1914 and the subsequent Allied counter attacks, the ‘Race to the Sea’ began.

    This so called race ended at the North Sea coast after each army attempted to outflank the other by moving north and west.  This area of Flanders, described by one historian as having the dreariest landscape in Western Europe, contained the last gap through which either side could launch a decisive thrust.

    By October 1914, the Allies had reached Nieuport on the North Sea coast.  The Germans, as a prelude to General Erich von Falkenhayn’s Flanders Offensive, captured Antwerp and forced its Belgian defenders back to Nieuport, near Ypres.

  • World War One Cardiff council fallen remembered on roll of honour (walesonline.co.uk)
    Those who worked for Cardiff City Council and lost their lives in World War One were remembered in the council’s roll of honour. Jessica Flynn looks at the formal roll held at Glamorgan Archives
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    With hundreds of names on the list, each have their own personal story. Many were normal working class people going about their lives in the city before the war changed their futures.
  • The History of Remembrance Poppies (serenataflowers.com)
    Published in 1915, the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae uses thisimage as a symbol of the way that the poet’s comrades fought and gave their lives in battle.Its hugely powerful sentiment inspired two women who went onto be responsible for our wearing of the poppy today.In the USA after having read the poem, Moina Bell Michael started to sell poppies to raise funds for ex- servicemen. Later in 1921 the idea was taken up by Madam Guerin who sold countless poppies to raise money to regenerate areas of France that had been most severely destroyed during World War One.
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6 Comments

Filed under Activism and Peace Work, History, Political affairs, Religious affairs, World affairs

6 responses to “Reflections on the Great War #2

  1. Thank you for listing my video of the Southwold Memorial Service. I appreciate the mention.

    Like

  2. Pingback: July 4, 1916 – Battle of the Somme greeted with ‘the greatest enthusiasm’ | From guestwriters

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