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This is an amende version
George Anthoy
20th century, a century of war

George Anthony  remembers the victims of  a profitable business

It is either morbidity or subdued anger, but the slaughter of the First World 
War, with its 350 miles of trenches, from the Belgian coast to the Swiss 
border, has always had a fascination for me. Early on, the reading of "Lions 
led by Donkeys", "In Flanders fields", "Goodbye to all that", "First day of 
the Somme", seeing the play and then the film, "Oh, what a lovely war", the 
first four lines of the Wilfred Owen poem, "Anthem for Doomed Youth", "What 
passing-bells for these who die as cattle? Only the monstrous anger of the 
guns. Only the stuttering rifles` rapid rattle, Can patter out their hasty 
orisons." and visiting the Imperial war museum, has fed this fascination for 
The cenotaph in Whitehall and the Armistice commemoration there; for the 
establishment to shed crocodile tears every November 11th, has kept it in my 
mind and everybody else's since that war ended 82 years ago.
I suppose it was the sheer size and apparent senselessness of it that is so 
overwhelming, even though it was so long ago.  Perhaps that's why it is still 
referred to as the Great War. A.J.P. Taylor, in one of his B.B.C. television 
lectures, described it as war of attrition, saying, "That providing the 
French and British lost three and the Germans lost two, the Allies would win."
There have been war's since of course, indeed the 20th century's main feature 
has been war on a frequent and huge scale, fought with ever increasing 
inhumanity with ever increasingly sophisticated weapons. No bows and arrows 
here, as at Crecy, Agincourt, and the Little Big Horn. No Waterloo, engaging 
a mere quarter of a million professional French, Prussian and British 
soldiery, but a monstrous engagement, killing millions in no time at all.
Beginning the century with the Boer War, followed by the Russo/Japanese war, 
the Gulf  war, the French Indo-China war, the Russian Civil war, the Spanish 
Civil war, the Mexican civil war, the Spanish-American Cuba war, the Liberian 
war, the Yemeni war, the Guatemalan war, the Nicaraguan war, the El 
Salvadoran war, the British Malayan war, the Kenya Mau Mau war, the Vietnam 
war, the Six Day Israeli/Egypt war, the Angola/Unita war, the Nigerian/Biafra 
war, N.A.T.O. bombing of Serbia, the Afghanistan wars, the Falklands war, the 
Sudan war, the Ethiopia war, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the Chinese 
Red Army/Kuomintang war, the Sino India war, the Cambodian civil war, the 
Sierra Leone war and the Congo war, making at least 32, have in their 
different ways, demonstrated the Clauswitz dictum that "war is politics by 
other means". Attempts at conquest by one military power over another to 
maintain its hegemony, instead of by diplomacy and political struggle.
Young men and women, still see war as an adventure, but not on the scale of 
1914. Even then they had to be lied to, either that it would be all over by 
Christmas or, "Gott mitt Uns". Working conditions, long hours and miserable 
pay, with appeals to patriotism and defence of country, prompted millions 
between 1914 and 1918 to join up for King, Kaiser and "La Patria".
Even though, subsequently, there was something of a sea change in world 
mentality, the Russian October revolution, the Kiel naval mutiny, their own 
artillery shooting French mutineers and demob mutinies here at home, has not 
endured as long as the system which creates war. It did end the age of 
innocence they say, and did radicalise the international working class for a 
while, but within a mere 31 years, it engulfed even more countries, and still 
more millions died. And still the concept of war continues to dominate into 
the 21st century, with more countries with ever ready nuclear weapons, and 
the European Strike Force, allegedly part of the Maastricht Treaty, being 
installed by New Labour.
Such thoughts rushed through my mind as I searched the War Graves Commission 
web site for two uncles, who joined the army with no intention of entering 
the ranks of the "glorious dead." I found paternal uncle and namesake, 
Private George Anthony, resident of Stoke Newington and poulterers assistant 
at Smithfield Market, killed at the age of 19 years on either September 25th 
or 29th 1918, at the battle of  Villers-Guislain, near Cambrai. And maternal 
uncle, Gunner Freddie Fooks, resident of Clapton and plumbers mate who 
expired at the Falaise gap in Normandy, on August 15th 1944, aged 33 years.
I shed few tears for these two young men, they probably had no idea what they 
were fighting for. But only with a feeling of anger; that they, like millions 
of others died in a slaughter of innocents. And still Capital, the creator of 
wars,  survives. As the man said, "War is terrible, but it's also terribly 

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