Friday 6 May 2011

Claude Choules Dies

Claude Stanley Choules, the last ever World War I combat vereran, has died; see: This truly represents the end of an era. The last man on Earth who recalls personally the greatest human slaughter in all of history has moved off this plain.

Human conflict is inevitable. It's a natural dialectic of the universe. But "War" as we know it is something very different. It is artificial, manipulated, a fraud. I hope the passing of Choules means that it will end soon.


Anonymous said...

Let's hope so too, Ben. Bot only that, it's a fraud. I remember a story told by someone on the Western Front, who had been injured in battle. They decided to move him back to England and, while he was waiting at Calais for the hospital ship, he noticed lots of bags of Blue Circle cement being unloaded on the quay. When he enquired, he was told that the cement, which had been made in England, was destined for the German army - so that they could reinforce their trenches against attack.

Both of my grandfathers took part in the Battle of the Somme. My paternal grandfather was a medical orderly, who ran out into no man's land, dodging German sniper fire, to rescue a wounded South Wales Borderer. He carried the soldier on his back hack to the British trenches, rixking his own life to do so. His unit officer recommended him for a bravery medal, but his recommendation was rejected by the Staff Officer, because he said it was just a "normal duty."

I'm not marking my family out as special, I just wanted to say that I'm sure there were countless acts of compassion amidst the carnage that went unregognised, like this one.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

I'm sure there was, Anon. Thanks for sharing that with us. It's sad that such stirling examples of heroism and comradeship are so often wasted on wars which benefit nobody except the Power Elite, like those who backed both sides in the War and let millions die. Choules himself became very opposed to war in his later life after serving in the Royal Navy and RAN until 1956 and seeing action in WWII too. He boytcotted the Armistice 90 celebrations in 2008 because he believed that it glorified war.