Cen­te­nary of the armistice

The Irish Times - - Comment & Letters -

Sir, – I was reread­ing some copy cor­re­spon­dence from a re­la­tion of mine, Lieut Arthur McCormick of the Royal Naval Vol­un­teer Re­serve, to his fa­ther, Thomas McCormick of Black­rock, Co Dublin, dated May 23rd, 2015, and sent from Gal­lipoli. Af­ter writ­ing gen­er­ally of the fight­ing and losses, he adds as a post­script: “I don’t want any money, but would like an

Ir­ish Times and pa­pers and a lit­tle cake and sweets and matches.”.

He was killed some two weeks later on June 5th, 1915, at the third bat­tle of Krithia, and buried in Skew Bridge Ceme­tery, Gal­lipoli. – Yours, etc, SI­MON McCORMICK, Bray,

Co Wick­low.

A chara, – To­mor­row, thou­sands of com­mu­ni­ties through­out Ire­land, Eu­rope and the wider world will re­mem­ber those who per­ished dur­ing the first World War. It is heart­en­ing to think that in most coun­tries, in­clud­ing our own, com­mem­o­ra­tions will fo­cus on rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and the shared mem­ory of the loss of mil­lions of or­di­nary sol­diers.

How­ever, it is es­sen­tial that, in our quest for com­mem­o­ra­tive unity, we do not sani­tise the his­tory of the mil­i­tary forces in which th­ese men served. The armies of all the ma­jor bel­liger­ent pow­ers were deeply em­bed­ded in forms of class and ra­cial vi­o­lence at home and in the colo­nial em­pires. Be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the war, they were de­ployed to crush ef­forts to chal­lenge the un­just sta­tus quo by work­ers and by colonised peo­ples across the world.

Many of the lead­ing fig­ures of the mil­i­tary hi­er­ar­chies, in­clud­ing the British war sec­re­tary Lord Kitch­ener, cut their teeth in bloody colo­nial wars while oth­ers, such as the French hero of Ver­dun, Phillippe Pé­tain, would play key roles in crimes against hu­man­ity af­ter the war. This his­tory can­not and should not be sep­a­rated from the mem­ory of the Great War.

On Sun­day, as we right­fully hon­our the suf­fer­ing of the sol­diers of the first World War, we should also spare a thought for all those who, from Cairo to Cork, from Am­rit­sar to Al­ge­ria, from Turin to Tonkin, were vic­tims of a much longer his­tory of vi­o­lent con­flict that is in­trin­si­cally linked to the mil­i­tary cul­tures that de­fined the Great War and, to a cer­tain ex­tent, con­tinue to de­fine its mem­ory. – Is mise,

Dr DÓNAL HASSETT, De­part­ment of French, Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Cork, Co Cork.

Sir, – Let us re­mem­ber the sac­ri­fice of so many with grat­i­tude and hu­mil­ity. And with a firm re­solve to never al­low the hor­rors of war to be in­flicted on our shared con­ti­nent ever again. – Yours, etc,

MARY RYAN, Dublin 8.

Sir, – Many thanks to Bobby McDon­agh for re­mind­ing us that “civilised and tol­er­ant Bri­tain still ex­ists” (Opin­ion, Oc­to­ber 31st). His rec­ol­lec­tion of find­ing poppy wreaths placed by British school­child­ren on graves in the Ger­man war ceme­tery at Lange­mark re­minded me of a me­mo­rial tablet I noted many years ago in the chapel of New Col­lege, Ox­ford.

A num­ber of Ger­man names were listed on the tablet, with a gen­eral in­scrip­tion as fol­lows: “In mem­ory of the men of this col­lege who com­ing from a for­eign land en­tered into the in­her­i­tance of this place and re­turn­ing fought and died for their coun­try in the war 1914-1919”. – Yours, etc,

FE­LIX M LARKIN, Cabin­teely, Dublin 18.

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