A century on from the beginning of ‘the war to end all wars’ that destroyed European civilisation forever through the brutalisation of the continent’s soul amidst the horrors of industrial war, the scars remain across the regions where battles were fought. As Lord Grey, the English foreign minister whose clueless bumbling was partly responsible for the fall into conflict put it so well “The lights are going out all over Europe. They will not be lit again in our time”. Of course, this is not the only place where this particular form of erosion is common, I saw alot of it all over Laos and Cambodia on my visits, two countries where more bombs were dropped than by all sides in the entire second world war.
This photo shows the Somme, where a million were wounded or died in between July and November 1916, 60,000 of them on the English side alone on the first day ‘over the top’, the worst casualty rate ever in British history. Trenches and shell craters are still clearly visible. As the hundredth anniversary approaches, we will all be intoning solemnly ‘lest we forget’, and for now, neither has the Earth in which so many unknown people still lie buried.