Post by patricklondon on Sept 2, 2018 12:31:01 GMT
The other day I was struck, on a bike ride up to central London, by just how many war memorials there are, just on that route. I started taking photos with a though to posting here, but it comes down to a good 40 or so! One particular aspect I noticed was that there seem to have been, in recent years, more and more memorials for more specific groups of participants, as if the more general ones are somehow not enough. And sometimes they seem to go (particularly where there has been an individual donor/sponsor named on the memorial itself) towards the less restrained end of the spectrum (both in size and detail of content). Case in point: for decades, a gilded eagle has "flown" over the Embankment as a memorial to the Royal Air Force:
But not far away, there's a much more recent Battle of Britain memorial, with mural sculptures floodlit at night, on both sides:
and I wonder why it seems to be so much more important to make so much more of it now than it did at the time.
I have also noticed how many war (or at least military) memorials there are in London, whereas there are really not all that many in Paris after the Napoleonic era. We have statues of Clémenceau, De Gaulle, Churchill but not much more. On the other hand, we have a very great number of street and place names to honour all of the significant people, although the commemorative plaques and busts are generally small or nonexistant. Nevertheless, I found it quite interesting when the line 1 Franklin Roosevelt metro station was renovated and they put the station name signs in Japanese, Arabic, Cyrillic and Chinese in addition to the Roman alphabet. It is perhaps the most significant honour that could have been given to anybody involved in WW2.
I started taking photos with a thought to posting here, but it comes down to a good 40 or so!
I see the Scotland Yard sign in the background, so of course am thrilled to recognize an area of London. I think there is a big clue in your statement, ... I noticed was that there seem to have been, in recent years, more and more memorials for more specific groups of participants ..., Especially as applies to the placement of those memorials, it seems where there is a large space & one memorial goes up, it seems to engender more, Hyde Park over by Constitution Arch being a good example. Ditto here, on the Embankment where you took your Battle of Britain picture. At any rate, I hope you'll follow through with your idea for the war memorials thread! A dedicated thread on that topic seems a wonderful idea.
... there are really not all that many in Paris after the Napoleonic era.
Maybe that gets back to Patrick's statement about the number of specific war memorials build in London in recent years. Both London and Paris had so much recuperation and rebuilding to do after the world wars, that monument building had to wait. Maybe London feels it waited long enough and Paris feels it already has enough memorials? The many threads on France and England show that individual towns all seem to have commemorated their WWI dead.
I guess every village in England has its First World War Memorial, which would be the scene of a church service around Armistice Day, 11th November. Very often the second war is commemorated by an extra tablet bearing the names of those killed. In my village the list of dead in the first war is much longer than for the second, the first list runs into double figures whereas for the second there are only 4 names. Unfortunately one of those is my favourite uncle.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
Autre temps, autre moeurs, perhaps? Feelings were different in the immediate aftermath of the world wars: both depended on a sense that it should not be forgotten, but if then it was a case of "never again" for everyone as a collective, now it's perhaps a matter of seeing a longer and more inclusive perspective. Plus, we didn't have occasion for all those smaller memorials one sees commemorating acts of resistance on so many street corners in Paris and other occupied cities.
One thing that does strike me is that the earliest memorial I found that wasn't just of generals and admirals seen as specially heroic was the Crimea memorial in Waterloo Place.
It's flanked by statues of Florence Nightingale and Sidney Herbert, whose efforts brought the suffering of ordinary soldiers (often as a result of bad planning and management) into the collective public (and political domain), which maybe was a turning point in public attitudes to such matters: which of course the First World War would have brought to a head.
After the First War the statues and honour rolls listing the men that went away and those who never returned were built in every town and village across the country. Huge expense and upkeep. After the Second War they built hospitals and Public Halls to commemorate those who served. So we have the 'Smithtown Memorial Hall' for all purpose use, or the Memorial Hospital (sometimes Soldiers' Memorial Hospital). Both a better investment in a young country.
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
Ha! Looking at Patrick's post at #68 I was thinking of what a waste that would seem to survivors of that war who perhaps would have preferred more or more comprehensive compensation rather than monuments. And then Questa addressed that very thought. Indeed a better use of funds.
So, 60 heads of state or government have announced their participation at the ceremonies in France, and Trump and Putin will get another chance to kiss and make up here. There will be no military parade as there is nothing military to "celebrate" according to France and especially Germany. Nevertheless, the French armed services will be having their own celebration at the Invalides, because they need that sort of thing, but this leaves them stuck with the dilemma of how to handle one of the greatest military heroes of the Great War -- Philippe Pétain. I'm sure they are already working on a way to mention his name without glorifying him.
Macron and Merkel will be going to Compiègne for their own special event, in the railway car where the armistice was signed in 1918. The ceremony with the 60 heads of state will take place at the Arc de Triomphe, where Macron will make a speech.
Place de l'Hôtel de Ville will be covered with 95,000 bleuets (cornflowers, the French equivalent of the Commonwealth poppy) from November 9 to 11 to honour the 95,000 soldiers from Paris who died. And Paris will finally get a WW1 monument in Père Lachaise cemetery. 30,000 other cities and villages in France have had a monument in many cases for at least 95 years.
I haven't read who will be representing the United Kingdom. I guess the royal family will be drawing straws.
Post by patricklondon on Oct 31, 2018 11:46:29 GMT
I haven't read who will be representing the United Kingdom. I guess the royal family will be drawing straws.
That's a tricky one for the protocol staff. All the "top of the tree" family are usually on duty at the Cenotaph, so it's a case of who's to be (seemingly) slighted by their not being there, or by having a junior/outer member sent to Paris. President Steinmeier of Germany has been invited to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph, but I can't find any news on whether our then (non-Commonwealth) allies will also be taking part (what with all the other wreaths to be laid, it'd be a bit crowded: the Commonwealth High Commissioners and the different service branches already do theirs together by the dozen, so to speak, which would look a bit off if applied to foreign guests taking part for the first time).
I saw this in The Telegraph, so here are at least 3 royals who are staying at home:
For the 65 years of her reign, with only a handful of exceptions, the Queen has led the nation in its Remembrance Sunday commemorations, laying a wreath at the Cenotaph with the Duke of Edinburgh supporting her.
This November, for the first time, the Queen and Duke will instead choose to watch proceedings from a balcony, as the Prince of Wales steps in to represent his mother.
The Queen has asked the Prince to take her place for the key moment of ceremony, in a significant and very visible change to the traditional wreath-laying.
Now 91, the Queen will instead join her 96-year-old husband on the balcony of the nearby Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as the Duke breaks his retirement to honour veterans and the fallen.
It is the first time the Prince will lay the wreath at the Cenotaph watched by his mother.
It's a good thing that Emmanuel Macron is still young and healthy because he is doing a total commemoration marathon in the coming days before the big event on November 11th. At the moment, he is having a long weekend in Honfleur (with the whatagain family?) to recharge his batteries.
Place de l'Hôtel de Ville will be covered with 95,000 bleuets (cornflowers, the French equivalent of the Commonwealth poppy) from November 9 to 11 to honour the 95,000 soldiers from Paris who died.
That is very moving and should be quite beautiful as well. It's rather poignant that the common English name for bleuets is bachelor buttons. Isn't "batchelor" from the French word for any unmarried man? There must be so many young bachelors who lost their lives in that war.
The Great War Macron marathon began this evening. He is currently in the cathedral of Strasbourg with President Steinmeier of Germany for a concert of commemoration. I am happy that the president of Germany is trundled out from time to time for an event. It gives Angela Merkel a temporary breather.
War was declared by Germany against France on 3 August 1914, and on 22 August, France suffered one of its worst losses in the village of Morhange in annexed Moselle. 27,000 French troops were killed on that day, more than the number of casualties during the entire Algerian war of independence. And many of the dead on the German side were youth of Moselle obliged to fight the French troops. Morhange will be President Macron's first stop of the day, as no other president has ever bothered to commemorate this tragedy.
I'm wondering how you manage to count the dead when 27,000 troops (on just one side) die the same day. I suppose it is more a matter of seeing how many people are missing from each batallion at the end of the battle. I don't know how many corpses were recovered but can you even imagine how many people had to be assigned to just that task? Body collectors, not to mention random body parts. And people are still waging war in 2018. Stupid.
I don't remember which (British) royal was in Ottawa for the 50th anniversary of VE day, there certainly was one, but also a Dutch royal, Princess Margriet, born at Ottawa Civic Hospital in 1943, after a federal proclamation had declared the maternity ward extraterritorial.
Kerouac, you must remember the film about that grim process, La Vie et rien d'autre.
One of the reasons that the French troops had so many casualties in the early battles (besides the total unpreparedness and lots of idiot generals who knew nothing about waging war) was that the French army was still wearing red trousers at the beginning of the war. They quickly switched to blue-grey uniforms when they realised what excellent targets they were.
It's entirely nauseating to read accounts of the number of young men who were shot for "cowardice" or falling asleep on duty or any number of reasons that those not in danger of bullets or trenchfoot or rats felt were unforgivable derelictions of duty. Even looking at pictures of cleaned-up trenches that have been turned into museums gives an insight into how insane and traumatic conditions were for the combat soldiers.