‘Remember those of last 500 years’
IN the last few days letters in these columns have rightly drawn attention to the variety of factors contributing to the defeat of Nazi Germany.
This correspondence is a result of this being the week of the centenary of the Armistice which ended the First World War.
It should be remembered that these have been only the most recent and destructive conflicts devastating the region.
Looking backwards, in 1870 the Prussians defeated France at Sedan – a victory which united the German states into one, with earthshaking results.
From 1792 to 1815, the armies of the French Revolution and Napoleon were used in expansionist wars – which ended at Waterloo in Belgium.
Several times Louis XIV had sent armies to invade the Low Countries and been defeated by William III and the Duke of Marlborough.
In the 30 Years’ War – 1618 to 1648 – France, Spain and the Dutch contested the area. A generation earlier Philip II of Spain’s efforts to conquer the Dutch and dominate Northern France caused thousands of deaths.
Before him, in the 15th Century, the Dukes of Burgundy had fought French monarchs for rich towns on the banks of the Somme. Amiens and Cambrai are not new names in military history.
In short, only for the last 70-plus years has blood not soaked the soil of what is now remembered as the Western Front.
In the 20th Century more was shed because bigger armies with better weapons were involved.
It is a fair guess that more blood has been shed, in terms of gallons per square mile, in that relatively small region than anywhere else in the world.
Let us spare a thought this month for all those who have died violently there in the last 500 years.
Our ancestors died without record and without their kin knowing. They have no memorial, but they suffered just as much.