100 years ago; a day we should never forget.
The battle of the Somme was the bloodiest battle of WWI. It began on the 1st of July 1916 with hopeful cries for victory, and stout British spirit and humour running through the trenches. What came after was a grim, naked exhibition of carnage.
In today’s world, we speak about soldiers being treated for post traumatic stress, and the amount of money governments are prepared to pay to their injured and retired veterans. Being ex military, I fully advocate the best possible care for our brave men and women, and will always support organisations like, The British legion of, which I’m a member. But there is another cause that sits deep in my heart; one that is overlooked, dismissed, and deliberately ignored by many in parliament.
Imagine being a 19 years old man, involved in the battle of the Somme; the mother of all slaughters. Think about witnessing the horrors, and seeing hundreds, thousands of your brothers in arms being cut to ribbons. Hear the sound of the guns, and feel their vibrations bursting your eardrums. See the massive explosions that lifted the earth into the air, and then rained soil and blood on the soldiers heads.
Thus, was the Somme, where the words, traumatised and treatment, did not exist. In those days, more common terms were, coward, deserter, and traitor – 306 British and commonwealth boys and men were executed during the Great War, and the bulk of them died by firing squad, tied to a wooden pole, with a piece of white cloth pinned to their chests.
Further investigations into individual cases are needed to determine the validity of decisions made by officers and military lawyers whilst serving in that hellish war. But, there is also another side of this contentious debate that cannot be ignored. In those 141 days of carnage, in the Somme, the British suffered 420,000 casualties, who died fighting, and not running or hiding from battle.
On this day, let us remember and honour the heroes and those who died for Britain and the former commonwealth. But, spare a thought for those 306 executed men and boys who in todays world, would have been treated for a very common and accepted illness, known as PTSD, (post traumatic stress disorder.)
Swearing Allegiance, a story about love, war, and betrayal, set during WWI