Saturday, 31 December 2016

1916 - 2016 Centenary of the Somme

It seems to be popular these days to do a year in review, though never laying claim to being on trend or indeed popular I have written a small post. 

History to me has been a lifelong love affair, and wargaming has always been a part of expressing my  historical interests with other like minded souls. Indeed it has helped shape my life in so many ways, from my degree studies in Archaeology and History, to the friends I have made and hopefully will continue to make. It is this deep rooted interest in History that drives my hobby, and at times gives me pause for thought. I was fortunate this year to attend a series of lectures at the University Centre Shrewsbury on  Shropshires military history, my particular interest being the lectures on the English Civil War. Although I enjoyed all the lectures presented that day, and the ECW lectures certainly gave me fresh inspiration, it was a lecture on ‘The Impact of War: Shropshire during the Georgian Period, 1714-1830’ by Dr Rachael Abbiss that particularly stood out for me. This lecture struck a particular chord given the subjects I had been reading around recently and has I suppose for want of a better word "inspired" my own thought processes and helped me clarify a possible direction I intend to pursue.

One of the subjects I've been reading around has been the First World War, so I thought given that this is my 100th post of the year (a feat I never thought I'd manage) I needed to do something special to mark the occasion. This year saw the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, and even though my blog purports to be 18th Century (straying frequently into other periods), I think it appropriate to include a small reflection at this time to commemorate the anniversary. I'm not going to go into any depth surrounding the appalling decision by FIFA to view the wearing of the poppy as a 'political' statement, for me it has and always will be a symbol of Remembrance and Eternal Gratitude to the Fallen, it never has and never will be 'political' to show respect, which should be given freely and regardless of Race, Colour or Creed.

None of my family members fell at the Somme, their battle grounds and burial sites are elsewhere, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia and Paschendaele. The Somme however is deeply ingrained into the national memory due to the exceptionally high level of casualties suffered. For Christmas this year I received the gift of a Somme Centenary Poppy pin. The accompanying certificate states that each of these pins has been crafted from metal recovered from 1916 shell fuses recovered from the Somme battlefields of France. The central red enamel contains finely ground earth recovered from the Somme; the essence of the battlefield and very ground the soldiers of 1916 fought upon, died upon, and many still lie at peace. Each pin is dedicated to one of the men who gave their lives during the battle of the Somme. I will end my 2016 blog post remembering all those who fell during the battle of the Somme in 1916, in particular a man my pin is dedicated to :

Private Harry Brown

Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)
Died 3rd September 1916
Service number 5542 
Commemorated at Thiepval Memorial

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