Friday, October 12, 2007

The Battle of Passchendaele

The battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest battles in World War 1 began ninety years ago. In the second assault on 12 October 1917, 845 New Zealanders were killed, many were missing and hundreds died later from their wound’s. More than 2000 New Zealanders died in the two assaults.

The battle was a total failure. The troops were bombarded by their own artillery before they attacked. The planned artillery barrage failed to cut a path through the barbed wire. Enemy machine guns placed on the high ground slaughtered the soldiers as they advanced through the mud and the rain. The attack was a shambles that turned into a total disaster.

Memorial services are currently being held at the cemeteries near Passchendaele. I do not understand why the politicians and generals always turn up for these events. The entire First World War was a betrayal of ordinary people by their political leaders. The young men who died at Passchendaele were mostly volunteers. They had volunteered because their leaders had persuaded them that they were serving their God and their country. Well, God has no interest in this war. And our country did not benefit either. No country benefited from the First World War. The entire war was a competition between the political leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Britain to see who has the biggest ego. The American politicians joined in at the to prove that their ego was bigger still.

The politicians always try to put a good spin on the war by saying that those who died are heroes. If dying bravely on the other side of the world in a pointless war makes you a hero, I suppose they were. However they were heroes that died for nothing; not for God, not for their country, not even for their comrades. These heroes were really fools because they trusted the lies of their political leaders. Passchendaele is proof of the infallibility of the politicians.

Then there were the generals. Their decisions during the First World War were abysmal. They wasted the lives of thousands, maybe millions, of soldiers. At Passchendaele, soldiers were made to climb up out of their trenches through the mud and the rain straight into the teeth of enemy machine guns. Over an over again the generals decided on assaults that were doomed to fail. The waste of lives was enormous.

Now the general turn up at Passchendaele and bask in the glory of those they call heroes. They might have been heroes, but they were also fools to have trusted in such foolish and incompetent leaders.

I can never understand why we need to celebrate these events. I am embarrassed that so many lives were wasted in such a foolish war. Why do we have this need to put a positive spin on an event that was shameful in every way? Why do we pretend that these men died for a noble cause? They actually died because political leaders got it wrong, as usual. There is nothing noble about being deceived by those you should not trust. Why do we have this need to pretend?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We celebrate these events as a way of saying thank you to all the people that fought for us, and for the stupis leaders that are meant to care, people just want to make sure that they are gratefull for what they did. Lives were wasted yes, I agree with you on that one.

You have said, 'There is nothing noble about being decieved by those you should not trust. Why fo we need to have this p-rentend?' We don't need to have this pretend you are right, but if people want to pretend then they aren't going to change for you or for any one.