World War I Centenary: Let the Spin Begin

World War I Centenary: Let the Spin Begin

Chateau Wood, Ypres

I didn’t expect to find myself agree­ing with Labour’s Shad­ow Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Tris­tram Hunt, but take a gan­der at his arti­cle “Bash­ing His­to­ry,” and see what you think.

We’re going to be read­ing a lot of sil­ly non­sense about World War I in the next year or two, and Hunt’s pre­emp­tive strike is a salu­tary warning.

His piece recalls a poet­ic answer to Eric Bogle’s famous poem “Willie McBride,” writ­ten by Stephen Suf­fet in 1997:

Ask the peo­ple of Bel­gium or Alsace-Lorraine,

If my life was wast­ed, if I died in vain.

I think they will tell you when all’s said and done,

They wel­comed this boy with his tin hat and gun.

For the text of both poems, click here.

2 thoughts on “World War I Centenary: Let the Spin Begin

  1. I actu­al­ly admire Eric Bogle’s “No Man’s Land,” also known as “The Green Fields of France,” and I sym­pa­thize with Bogle’s anti­war mes­sage. Nev­er­the­less, I wrote “Willie McBride’s Reply” to show that there was anoth­er side of the sto­ry, and to give voice to the count­less young men (and some women) who served in the Great War because they hon­est­ly believed the Allied cause was hon­or­able and just. Whether his­to­ry proved them right is entire­ly anoth­er matter.

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