On the eve of the centenary of the Great War there is an obsession as to whether or not this was a necessary war? It was not until the nineteen sixties when Charles Chilton radio play, The Long Long Trail was transformed into the stage play “ Oh! What a Lovely War”( by Gerry Raffles and Joan Littlewood) in 1963, then subsequently released as the 1969 musical film (directed by Richard Attenborough), did the question resonate in popular culture.
The nineteen sixties was the anti-era, and anti-war was top of the agenda. It saw the popularisation of the CND movement, anti-Vietnam war protest and the belief that all wars are vulgar and therefore idealistically unnecessary.
I consider myself to be somewhat of a realist. I know war is vile and vicious, and I too wish I lived in Walt Disney world where, cultural, religious , political ideology, and tribalism are an irrelevance, where political power, money, imperialism, resources and poverty are superfluous. As a realist I know the rose smells sweeter than the potato, it’s the idealists who think the rose also tastes better.
Both my Great-grandfathers fought in the Great War, they were both part of Kitchener’s army, they both served on the western front from 1915 till 1918 they both saw action at Ypres ,Loss, Somme, Passchendaele. One was rank and the other file and they both came home.
At the time of their return they both thought it was a necessary war, they believed in the ideals they were fighting for, self-determination, equality, freedom. They believed they had laid down the foundations for a better world with their sacrifices. It was only with the passing of the years when they witnessed the betrayal of their legacy that they questioned the war, not was it necessary, but was it worth it.