Twenty Years After, The Battlefields of 1914-18 Then and Now

EDITORS FOREWORD" t ~1EN twenty thirty forty fifty years ago !”—!so runs the refrain of M y Old Shako a song beloved of old soldiers wherever the English tongue is spoken. To-day it is still but twenty years since men from every part of the Empire were advancing slowly and painfully eastwards along the Somme Valley. T o those who survive to everyman who wore a ”“tin hat the shako of the period those four years of sacrifice and endeavour of glorious comradeship to which there is no parallel in everyday life and routine the Great War of 1914-18 world calamity though it was remains a memory of adven­ture and of brotherhood which time cannot dim. The Story of an Empires Sons Histories of the Great War there have been in plenty. Men drawn from every rank and every branch of the Services have set down their personal experience. B u tin this country no attempt has yet been made to tell as a whole the imperishable story of the Empires civilian soldiers and the battlefields upon which they fought. The summer of 1914 smiled upon a Britain at peace with all the world. In shop and factory in office and on the land men went about their business scarcely aware of the dark clouds then spreading outwards from a storm -centre in Eastern Europe of which few knew even the name. For them it sufficed that these islands in“set a ”silver sea were ringed about b y a fleet of unsurpassed power and that the tiny British Army could adequately deal with such remnants of a hostile force as might evade the vigilance of the Kings ships. To this peace-loving folk war was an affair best left to those whose profession it was to fight. A s the long days of high summer slowly passed few realised that they stood at the close of an epoch. Young people of modern times have become so accustomed to crises and international upheavals that it is difficult for them to appreciate the emotions of those who in 1914 were suddenly confronted not merely b y a crisis but b they beginnings of a universal upheaval. The war storm burst upon Britain at a moment when the thoughts of most were centred upon their annual holiday. Within days almost hours, men of military age throughout the British Isles were to read Lord Kitchen ers appeal readjust their minds, and embark upon an adventure destined to last for more than four long years and from which those who survived returned to a world distraught. The Purpose of this Work It is the purpose of this work to describe the Great War of 1914-18 from the standpoint of the civilian who for the sake of his co u n try laid aside the tools of his craft and donned the unfamiliar accoutrements of the soldier. In no sense is any attempt made to pre­sent a history with its tale of strategy and battles
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