100 years ago and the last summer of peace

Discussion in 'World War I' started by syscom3, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    As we close the summer of 2013, it dawned on me that we are entering a dubious centennial of sorts.

    Nearly 40 years ago, a teacher of mine in junior high school told me about "the guns of August". How in August 1914, Europe plunged into war. At that time in 1973/1974; there were still lots of people around who remembered that. It was part of our collective living memory.

    Now, in 2013, the people who remember that August, 99 years ago, are all gone. The living memories are gone and we only have written recollections.

    In a few days, the last peaceful summer a hundred years ago that Europe will know for five horrible years will end. And in its place we will be reading about the 100 year anniversary of the decent into madness that gripped that continent.

    Just a somber observation.

    Good night and good luck.
     
  2. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I was just thinking about that not too long ago, that when I was a kid, WWI vets were very much around and in thier 60's. The last WWI vet I spoke with, was in the early 90's (as was he) and it's hard to imagine that it's been 100 years since the Europe plunged into that madness that would change history forever.
     
  3. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    I reminds me that the Napoleonic wars were that far back to them 100 years ago.

    But then my great grandfather saw the last slave market in Europe and my grandfather met a chap who had helped set fire to Washington. We forget how far we have come, although we try to remember the cost in getting here.
     
  4. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    My Great Grandmother came out west when she was a little girl, her wagon train being attacked by Indians as they crossed the plains. She passed away in the 1970's, having seen the Space Shuttle Enterprise make it's test-flight being launched from the back of a 747.

    In her lifetime, she saw the age of steam pass to the nuclear age, she saw the birth and rise of powered flight. She witnessed the transition from "horse and buggy" to the automobile. She personally knew Mexican American War vets, Civil War vets and vets of the Spanish American war. She lived through two world wars and two "police actions" and saw the transition of technology that it involved. She not only came from the Frontier of the American West but witnessed the new Frontier of Space, having seen the moon landings.

    What an amazing time to be alive!
     
  5. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    agree.
    My grandmother was born in 1902 and my grandfather in 1898. He was a soldier during WW1, guarding our frontier while the war was raging a few kilometers past that frontier. I guess they had the same experiance as your great grandmother. My granfather died in 1976, but my grandmother lived well into the '90ies. Almost the whole of the 20st century. Amazing what she must have witnessed.
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Ottoman Empire were fighting for their lives against Italy, Balkan coalition and Russia.

    Mexican civil war was in full swing.

    Chinese civil war was in full swing.

    France was fighting insurgencies in Morocco and Vietnam.

    Irish civil war was rumbling along at a relatively slow pace before it exploded in 1916.

    Britain and Russia were glaring at each other in Persia. Both sides were arming local proxy forces.

    Italy was fighting an insurgency in Libya.

    Russian based SR Party was conducting assassinations and other terrorist actions throughout Europe.

    Bolsheviks were staging strikes and demonstrations in Russia.

    Serbian based Black Hand terrorist organization was active in Balkans.

    Montenegro was fighting Albania.

    .....I suspect this isn't the complete list of 1913 conflicts. :cry:
     
  7. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Compared to what was about to erupt, it was a remarkably calm summer in Europe...
     
  8. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Its stories like that, that make up for pet rocks, the Kardashians and side-post batteries.
     
  9. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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    Dig that.
    That one woman in my life that insisted upon being called "Granny", (She said that anything else was a sign of disrespect,) was quite a gal. She loved "Little House on the Prairie" and the "Laurence Welk" show. She baked sugar cookies pretty much every week, and was a fine person, all around. (Except when she was mad at one of us, when she would chase us around with a pitchfork.) Anyways, She saw the progression from Covered wagons to a Man on the moon.
    Seriously!
    That is Friggin awesome!
     
  10. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Lets not fall into the trap of thinking the "good old days were great" because they weren't. We tend to look at the past through rose colored glasses.

    We are in the lead up to the centennial of WW1. And the political lessons of then are just as germane today.
     
  11. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    #11 parsifal, Aug 29, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2013
    For me, 1913 is the story of my Grandfather. Working on a station called Ayrshire Downs Station. This was the land of the shearers strike, of waltzing matilda, and wool and cattle. My grandfather was born in Surry Hills but started stock work in 1908 aged 17. He came from a family of builders and tradesmen, but since the depression of 1890, things had been very depressed in the industry. his father had been a master builder that had built the syteps of the Sydney Town Hall. He used his 7 sons, except my grandfather as subbys in the various builds they undertook. My grandfather broke the mould, because he just wanted to be a farmer. But by 1908 the family was broke, so grandad went bush, to Albury and then by stagecoach to winton where he was lucky to get a job. The stationmaster said "can you ride son". my grandfather said "Yes"...."well, ride that horse and you get a job". The station boss was apparently pointing to a huge 17 hand grey brumby, completely wild and unbroken. My grandad had no money, and was in the middle of nowhere. He had just enough money for the stage to winton, and a big bag of dry biscuits to survive the 8 day journey. He had to ride the horse. It took him all day to do it.......a day of getting on, getting thrown off, getting on, and getting thrown off.

    They still wore six guns back then, and it wasnt illegal to kill aborigines. One night, playing cards, a black (thats what they called them) was caught cheating.....someone shot him dead, and they just kept playing cards. Life was tough, but never cheap.

    My great uncle had fought in the Boer War, and I think thats where my Grandfather got the idea of joining the army. When war broke out, my grandfather and one other man, by the name of Doyle joined the army and were contracted to drive 500 horses down to Brisbane (and then by train to Sydney) for induction into the army. Doyle and my grandfather were in the intial volunteer rounds for the Mounted Division, 7th Light Horse Regiment....this was a battalion sized unit...746 enlistments, my Grandfather was enlistee number 158.

    Doyle and my grandfather fought together throughout the war. Because of their riding skills, they were given the pick of the best horses they had brought to Brisbane, and worked for most of the war as scouts. one month before the end, however, Doyle was shot in the spine and permanently paralysed. That left my grandfather as the sole original member of the regiment, there was no-one else alive and functional. My grandfather was decorated four times during the war, the last time saving Doyle when he dragged him back from no-mans land. He hated the war, and hated Anzac Day and hated those medals. i really had to beg and plead to convince him to let me have them when he died......

    I really miss him. thats what thinking of 1913 brings for me
     

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  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    People living in western Europe and USA tend to forget we are only a fraction of the worlds population and land area. :(

    1914 to 1918 Europe was no more violent then 1913 China, Balkans and Mexico.
     
  13. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    One of the best memories I have of my grandmother is asking her if she remembered what it was like when WW2 ended. She said, "Heck, I remember what it was like when WW1 ended!" My grandmother has been gone 11 years and the memory of that conversation still simply floors me.
     
  14. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Considering the thread was about the relative peace of Europe prior to the world falling apart in flames, not the global situation at the time.

    I am hard pressed to find a point in human history where there wasn't a local conflict occuring on a random continent at any given time.

    The "large conflicts" tend to get the lion's share of attention, but smaller (more local?) conflicts have erupted with a greater regularity all through history.

    6,000+ years of "society" and no one has learned how to get along yet...
     
  15. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    #15 Readie, Sep 1, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
    Its a poignant time here in Europe where, many still fine it hard to understand how so many men could killed charging machine guns. The Somme claimed two of my great uncles and the other great uncle survived till Christmas 1917 and my paternal grandfather was wounded and taken home to Australia to live to see peace. My maternal grandfather was also a soldier survived and lived till 1969. He never spoke of the war.....ever.
    When I was 15 I said to my maternal grandmother that I was thinking about joining the army...she was horrified and told me about 'the trenches' and how so many were killed. I was close to her, but I am ashamed to say that I did not understand....
    I have all the family heirlooms, like my grandfathers officers whistle dated 1917, binoculars and medals. Sometimes I look through the binoculars and wonder what my grandfather saw he looked through them prior to ordering an attack, gently blow the whistle and be thoroughly glad that I and my children have never had to go through that hell.

    That's why I have sown 100's of thousands of poppy seeds in time to flower next summer.
    Total gratitude and total respect.

    John
     
  16. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    It's amazing to me how much the world has changed in 100 years. From the first powered flight to a space craft leaving the solar system.

    I loved talking to my grandmother about life when she was a kid. Even just talking to my mom when she was a kid is incredible to me.
     
  17. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    100 years to reflect.....you cannot help but ask...was it worth all that sacrifice.

    There will be as many opinions on that as there are members i should think, but for me, there is no price too high to pay to defend your nation, and the principals of freedom. I do not want to make this a political thread. each memeber has his own right to view this issue as they see fit, and for those who have family that fought it in it, its an issue that personal loyalties are as important as any rational thinking. For me, our nation was borne from our ability to appreciate the sacrifice our boys took so well in their defeat. Australia is perhaps unique, as it associates its national character and strength as a nation on the grounds of a military defeat. Most nations base their existence and national strength of sharacter on the grounds of a national victory of some sort. We choose not to go that way.

    We eventually built on that defeat to become one of the nations that cornered victory by the strength of its military achievement. It was a victory won at a great cost, and by the narrowest of margins. the role of the AIF in the summer and autumn of 1918, along with the canadians, was instrumental in breaking the back of the vaunted Imperial German Army. our role in the Middle east was also critical at places like Beersheda, Gaza, Jerusalem and Damascus...all battles that the AIF played prominant, if not crucial roles, and depended in their success, on the quality of the men that made up those formations. I often wonder if we, as the beneficiaries of that sacrifice, are equal to the high standards these men set. Persoanlly, i doubt it.
     
  18. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    parsifal ; thanks for the words. WW1 obviously has lots of meaning to the families who distant ancestors fought it.

    I'm just amazed on how the years have passed by. When I hear about the "Guns of August", the veterans were just as old as the WW2 veterans are today who participated in WW2.
     
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