Has Britain done enough to recognise WWI Veterans?

Blogger: GemSen Author, Sebastian Faulks, doesn't think so — he  believes that Britain hasn't done enough to recognise WWI veterans when they were alive and could appreciate it. Faulks, whose best-selling novel ‘Birdsong’ was set in First World War France, apparently thinks that it should be a "matter for regret" that the contribution of veterans was not recognised earlier, reported the Telegraph newspaper. Faulks, who was speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival this weekend, said that the British people "probably didn't do enough" when veterans were alive to see it. He went on to say that he had not learned about the realities of the First World War in his own schooldays, and that it was only relatively recently that the horrors were widely discussed. These comments come ahead of the First World War centenary, of which the government have revealed that around £50 million will be spent marking the anniversary, with commemorative events due to start next year on 4th August. What do you think? Do you believe that next year's WWI centenary commemorations will be too little, too late?

Faulks also commented on the public reaction to the death of Harry Patch, the last surviving veteran known to have fought in the trenches of the First World War had been a "very good example" of British regret. Harry Patch died in 2009 aged 111 and was marked by a speech from the Prince of Wales, songs and compositions from two poet laureates. Faulks apparently suggested that it was an expression of what should have been said to a generation of veterans earlier. "There, surely, is a whole country saying we really missed a trick here and were sorry," he said. Next year, as part of the commemorations, the Government have planned various activities and services to mark the anniversaries of the First World War, with school children encouraged to visit battlefields and learn about the sacrifice of troops. A service at Westminster Abbey will be the main focus for the events, with a final candle to be extinguished at 11pm  – to mark the precise moment that Britain went to war with Germany. Fought mostly by soldiers in trenches, World War I took over Europe from 1914 to 1919 and was a bloody war that resulted in huge losses of life seeing an estimated 10 million military deaths and another 20 million wounded. At the time many had hoped that World War I would end all wars but it actually set the stage for World War II. In just over a month’s time on 11 November, it will be Remembrance Day, which recalls the end of hostilities of World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. On this date the battlefield fell silent on the Western Front after more than four years of warfare. WWI officially ended with the signing of The Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919. Since then Remembrance Day has come to be an opportunity to honour and respect all those who have died for their country. The Ode of Remembrance comes from the fourth verse of ‘For The Fallen’ poem by Laurence Binyon that was first published in the Times on September 21, 1914.
For The Fallen With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children, England mourns for her dead across the sea. Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit, Fallen in the cause of the free.   Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres, There is music in the midst of desolation And a glory that shines upon our tears.   They went with songs to the battle, they were young, Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted; They fell with their faces to the foe.   They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.   They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; They sit no more at familiar tables of home; They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; They sleep beyond England's foam.   But where our desires are and our hopes profound, Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, To the innermost heart of their own land they are known As the stars are known to the Night;   As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, To the end, to the end, they remain.
Are you looking for the war heroes in your family? Do you know enough about your ancestors and their military past? Why not log on to Forces War Records and search our vast collection of records to find out more  – there could be a war hero in your family just waiting to be discovered, and remembered… Why not delve into our ‘historic documents’ library and read some of the interesting war diaries that we get sent – there’s nothing quite like reading a personal account of war, as history unfolds itself through the eyes of somebody who was actually there. Forces War Records are fortunate to receive such amazing real life war stories involving lashings of courage, and now you can read some of them – completely free of charge.
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