I have one of those large wall calendars, like they sell at Barnes and Noble or other fine bookstores. Mine has airplane pictures and lists Canadian and other "Anglo-Saxon" holidays. Today is listed the anniversary of the start of Second El Alamein (running to 2 November).
While I have on the bookshelf across the room a Toby of Bernard Law Montgomery I don't see him as the dashing hero of World War II. On the other hand, he knew that one of this jobs was to conserve the lives of the British soldiers under his command and he worked at it. The same can not be said for all of the generals the British have suffered under. Those in the First World War, the Great War, came to be known as donkeys--as in "Lions led by Donkeys." The Lions were the British infantry and the donkeys the generals. The source of this quote is disputed, and goes back to at least the Crimean War.
Wikipedia notes a book with the quote as the title--Lions Led by Donkeys, by Captain P.A. Thompson, published in 1927 (not listed at Amazon). The subtitle is "Showing how victory in the Great War was achieved by those who made the fewest mistakes." There is probably some truth to that.
While today the US Department of Defense, and the nation as a whole, is focused on counter-insurgency and the war against terrorism, everyone should be keeping a small part of his or her brain working on big wars. People would do well to look at WWI from time to time, just to keep the thinking muscles exercised in that area. A war with ten or twenty or thirty million dead--not counting civilians--would be a terrible thing. It would also be a thing not to rule out. However, not being prepared for it intellectually and materially would be to invite such a thing.
Regards -- Cliff
10 months ago