May the Tales,

Stories, Poems, Wise Words and Forgotten Facts below give you an insight into which war is good, desperately needed and will bring good things to you and those around you and which war is never good, never needed and never, ever justified.
More than a hundred years ago the Great War (World War I) raged over Europe. Its brutality and horrors were on a scale never seen before. Men got a daily ration of rum to be able to cope and still many couldn't. Many were left shell shocked and traumatised, only to be branded as cowards and deserters.
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge
till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
and towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
but limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
drunk with fatigue, deaf even to the hoots
of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling,
fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
but someone still was yelling out and stumbling
and flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
as under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
behind the wagon that we flung him in,
and watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
his hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
if you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
obscene as cancer, bitter as cud
of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -
my friend, you would not tell with such high zest
to children ardent for some desperate glory,
the old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
PS Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori means it is sweet and honourable to die for one's country.
Finally, in November 1918 a truce was reached and the war ended. The subsequent reparations demanded from Germany lay the foundations for another war only 20 years later. And many more wars have been fought since, each with its own brutalities, horrors and its own stimulants, as if the Great War never happened, as if no lesson was ever learnt.

Every war that rages on earth this year insults the memory of our fallen soldiers. It is about time we start to learn the lessons that their sacrifices taught.

A Letter and an Epitaph

United Kingdom, September 18, 1914

She did not hesitate...
The undersigned writers, amongst them men and women of the most divergent political and social views, some having been for years ardent champions of good will towards Germany, and many of them extreme advocates of peace, are nevertheless agreed that Great Britain could not without dishonour have refused to take part in the present war. No one can read the full diplomatic correspondence published in the White Paper without seeing that the British representatives were throughout labouring wholeheartedly to preserve the peace of Europe.

When these efforts failed, Great Britain had still no direct quarrel with any Power. She was eventually compelled to take up arms because, together with France, Germany, and Austria, she had pledged to maintain the neutrality of Belgium. As soon as danger to that neutrality arose she questioned both France and Germany as to their intentions. France immediately renewed her pledge not to violate Belgian neutrality; Germany refused to answer, and soon made all answer needless by her actions. Without even the pretence of a grievance against Belgium, she made war on the weak and unoffending country she had undertaken to protect, and has since carried out her invasions with a calculated and ingenious ferocity which has raised questions other and no less grave than that of the willful disregard of treaties.

When Belgium in her dire need appealed to Great Britain to carry out her pledge this country's course was clear. She did not hesitate, and we trust she will not lay down arms till Belgium's integrity is restored and her wrongs redressed....
Arnold Bennett, John Galsworthy, RUDYARD KIPLING, Ev Lucas,
Mary A. Ward and many other English authors...

Epitaph by Rudyard Kipling, 1917

RUDYARD KIPLING, an Englishman and powerful advocate of the war against Germany, personally intervened to get his eighteen-year old son John into the army.
John, who was literally terribly short-sighted, was reported wounded and missing on his first day in action.
Despite his father's crusade to recover his son's body, the body was never identified.

In the year 2014, a crisis in the Ukraine leads some Western politicians to accuse Russia of building up to World War III as they would have no other choice than to protect the weak and righteous. It sounds familiar, a lot like the letter above, signed by Rudyard Kipling three years before writing the epitaph; it's all a lie.

As history repeats itself over and over again it seems that the lessons to be learnt are either never learnt or that they are soon forgotten. That is why Book of Tales has put together all its tales, old and new, regarding war so that that which was once to be learnt at such dear cost is remembered.

"Have you news of my boy Jack?"
Not this tide.
"When d'you think that he'll come back?"
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

"Has anyone else had word of him?"
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim.
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?
None this tide,
Nor any tide.

Rudyard Kipling

A Never-Ending Tale

..., 1815, 1914, ...
Read  >>

Forgotten Fact

After the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 it was the Duke of Wellington who persuaded the vindictive Prussians to show generosity over French war reparations in order to procure future European harmony. The reverse happened after World War I with catastrophic consequences.

Braveheart's Battle

Tales of a White Knight
Who is the enemy?  >>

The Battlefields

For military operations there are nine kinds of grounds
but only one on which to do battle  >>


A forgotten history lesson by George Orwell,
kept safe in The Secret Files of the Hollow Mountain  >>


What is politics really?
The only true definition  >>

"Let us not be blind to our differences,
but let us also direct attention to our common interests and
the means by which those differences can be resolved.
And if we cannot end now our differences,
at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.

For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is
that we all inhabit this small planet.
We all breathe the same air.
We all cherish our children's futures.
And we are all mortal."
President John F. Kennedy in a speech on June 10, 1963
at the height of the Cold War.
The speech titled 'A Strategy of Peace' was written by Theodore Sorensens.

Where have all the young men gone?

A Forgotten News Story  >>

Forgotten Fact

More Falkland veterans have committed suicide
since the Falkland war than were killed during it.

Forgotten Rule

The general rule for use of the military is that
it is
better to keep a nation intact than to destroy it.
It is better to keep an army intact than to destroy it,
better to keep a division intact than to destroy it,
better to keep a battalion intact than to destroy it,
better to keep a unit intact than to destroy it.

Therefore those who win every battle are not really skilful
those who render others' armies helpless without fighting
are the best of all.
The Art of War, a Classic Chinese Work
compiled by Sun Tu over 2000 years ago

The Forces Above

A true short war story. Read  >>

Thank you  >>

You are reading a Special in our News Café  >>
© Brigitte Franssen 2014
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