The doors have closed behind the Great War generation with the passing of Harry Patch, an ordinary Somerset man who, not yet out of his teens, was pitched into the squalid horror of trench warfare. Unlike so many of his comrades, Harry came through: he fought at Ypres, often deliberately mispronounced, with suitably grim humour, as Wipers.
He didn’t have to speak out about his experience: many other survivors chose not to. But, ultimately, he spoke up, and said what he thought – about the whole miserable business of war, of its ultimate futility, and the waste of so many lives.
As you watch the tens of thousands who poured into the little city of Wells to pay their respects to this last soldier of World War One, remember the sacrifice of so many young men, and Harry Patch’s verdict on the last war to be fought at the bidding of the ruling class.
It wasn’t worth it.
Thursday, 6 August 2009
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