Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1. The conflict would rage for 5 years, across three continents and claimed some 37 million died. Beside the obvious devastation the war also created the conditions which gave us WW2 and shaped the modern world.
In New Zealand and Australia, WW1 and specifically, Gallipoli, is regarded as the birth of these two nations. It was from this conflict that they started to see themselves as distinct from the UK and took on their own unique personalities and independent foreign policies.
One can not help to be moved though by images of the poppies at the Tower of London which creates an incredibly evocative image and shows the sheer number of British dead in WW1.
On a personal level, my family was deeply involved in the war. My Great Grandfather George (standing) and his younger brother John (sitting) both signed up early on and fought in Gallipoli with the ANZAC’s where both where wounded in 1915. John died within months of his wounds and George died from complications of his wounds in 1920. Another relative fought in Palestine and the Middle East as an Engineer, surviving the war, while another died on the Western Front. Fortunately New Zealand has kept a vast array of records and I have been able to collect the war records for the two brothers below, including their medical documents, giving a fascinating snap shot of the past and indeed a glimpse of what my relatives went through.
As we remember the tens of thousands of other young men who died, it is easy with the hindsight of time to be critical of the decisions made that would prove so costly, but in reality no one could possibly have envisaged their consequences. Instead, I believe we should study the past and apply these lessons to the present, but also be grateful for the sacrifices made and for the freedoms that we in the western world are able to enjoy as a result. We should also be grateful that in an uncertain world we still have young men and women who are prepared to defend our interests and freedoms in far of lands.
Do take the time to learn more about WW1, if you don’t already know your own family’s history with the war you may discover some interesting facts.
Lest We Forget
Managing Director, Kiwi Movers