Wel­come

Scottish Field - - WELCOME - Richard Bath, Ed­i­tor

Be­ing a his­tory nut, the re­cent del­uge of pro­grammes and ar­ti­cles on World War One has ab­so­lutely fas­ci­nated me.

They Shall Grow Not Old, Peter Jack­son’s re­mark­able con­ver­sion of old silent, black-and-white news­reel footage into a full-colour doc­u­men­tary with sound, for in­stance, did more than any dry his­tory les­son to bring the hor­rors of the front to life. If you get a chance to see it, I heartily rec­om­mend it.

Yet even that tour de force has been eclipsed by an as­ton­ish­ing web­site, A Street Near You (www.as­treet­n­earyou. org), which is a timely re­minder that the in­ter­net is good for more than peo­ple scream­ing at each other about Brexit.

It’s a web­site that al­lows you to type in your post­code, and it will then bring up a map which tells you who died in ac­tive ser­vice in World War One in your area, giv­ing you their age, oc­cu­pa­tion and ad­dress. With a few key­strokes, the very hu­man im­pact of the con­flict is rammed home.

In the next door house to mine, 32-year-old Reg­i­men­tal Sergeant Ma­jor Richard Bell of the High­land Light In­fantry fell in 1916, leav­ing be­hind a wife and chil­dren. Two doors down, 37-year-old Pri­vate Archibald Col­ley of the Ma­chine Gun Corps (In­fantry) died in 1918, and also left be­hind a wife and chil­dren. Within 200 yards of my home, 27 men died, most of them leav­ing be­hind griev­ing young fam­i­lies.

It made me re­alise the scale of suf­fer­ing and losses, and how rare the so-called Thank­ful Vil­lages – those which lost none of their men – re­ally were. And it made me thank­ful.

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