And the years fly on for ever, Till the shadows veil their skies,But he loves to hold her little hands, And look in her sea-blue eyes.And she sees the road by the poplars, Where they met in the bygone years,For the first little song of the roses Is the last little song she hears: (Roses of Picardy, Frederick Weatherly 1916)
Very nearly put a quote from a Good Year for the Roses, but it is such a crap song. Then I was going to title the blog completely different, Start the blog with a little story. The one about the guy who is a bit like me. He isn’t that good at foreign languages, and being honest English is as foreign as the rest of them. Anyway, he is in Spain and he is hungry needs to eat. HE is at the stage when he would eat the rugs. Luckily there is a little cafe nearby. They are like bookshops I can smell them a mile away. In he goes, can’t read a word of Spanish. between the broken English of the waiter and gesturing at the meal the people at the next table a meal is produced. It tasted wonderful. So the guy goes back next day and sees the same waiter. “Same, Si” so of the waiter goes and brings the same food as the first time. The end of the month soon approaches and the waiter has learned a little English. the guy asks him “The food is so good, what is it? The waiter says “Bulls Balls”, known as Rocky Mountain Oysters in the Mid Western United States. “We get them from the Bull Ring, after the bull fight. The bullfighter he wins, he cuts them off we serve them fresh”. It’s the last day in Spain so the guy thinks, don’t approve of this, but they do taste good, I will have them again. so he orders them again. the waiter goes to the kitchen and brings them out. This time they are tiny, well small, the guy goes nuts. “What is this? I eat here every day, tip well, then after a month get this. Why?” The waiter says, “Sometimes the bull, he wins.” That is what propaganda is it is a load of… But I decided not to start that way.
1914 ended badly for the British. In the last week of December there was a break down in command control and discipline in the British Expeditionary Force. The original British Expeditionary Force was for the time being finished as a fighting force. Out of control, large numbers of troops had disobeyed orders and stopped fighting they just walked about no-mans land talking to the enemy. Discipline had broken down. One would have thought it would have rocked the nation. It is mentioned in history books, stores try and sell crap chocolate with it. Much discussed on social media with tempers raised over did they kick balls. Balls do seem to be the theme of this blog. or did they play a match. All down to propaganda there was not a single mention of what it really was. That is the power of propaganda it will convince you of the opposite of reality. Lucky for us the Germans were not in any better shape.
During 1915 there were two events that were gifts to the British propaganda effort. The first was the sinking of the Lusitania on the 7th May. Pictures of the children who drown and the funerals of the passengers made headlines all around the English speaking world, and beyond.Conjuring up images so powerful they stay in the mind even today. While the sinking did not bring America into the war, America was in no condition to fight in 1915, America was now on the verge and firmly on the Allied side in all but name. The story of this unarmed passenger liner being sunk by a German U-boat is well known, but it it is mostly propaganda.
If the question is, “Should the Germans have sunk her?” The answer ,no. Hindsight with its perfect 20/20 vision makes that answer very clear. If the question is, “Was the Lusitania a legitimate target, as the Germans claim? Were they within their rights under the rules of war?” The answer is to both, Yes.
The Lusitania despite all the propaganda was not an unarmed passenger ship. It was a Merchant Cruiser. In the second decade of the 21st century it is often forgotten what a Merchant Cruiser is. A merchant cruiser is a warship that carriers goods or passengers. It is the “Warship” part that made Lusitania a legitimate target, and gave the Germans every right to sink her. That and her published cargo manifesto listing the munitions she carried. The Lusitania may not have had deck armament fitted. Been incapable of winning a shoot out with a rowing boat carrying a sea scout armed with a spud gun, and carrying over a thousand passengers. All that does not matter, the Lusitania was a warship carrying munitions. That, in war, is all that really counts.
The second event was the shooting of Edith Cavell on the 12 October, a British nurse. Edith was shot for helping British soldiers escape from German occupied territory. Not doing terribly well in the war so far Britain needed Heroes/ Edith was the gift Germany gave to British Propaganda in her darkest hour. A woman, a nurse, helping the wounded of both sides, it was completely outrageous a fine example of Teutonic frightfulness. The allies would never shoot a woman, it is advisable for the reader to ask Margaretha MacLeod for further clarification at this point. Britain now had a heroine to be proud of. Just do not mention the damage Edith did to the Red Cross, potentially putting the lives of thousands at risk. What Edith did by helping prisoners escape could have got the red cross banned from going anywhere near the front. at risk from being banned from being able to cross into enemy territory, the whole ethos of the Red Cross was put at risk. Patriotism in a multinational aid organisation is not only more than enough, in a war it is a liability.
Still with all the bull being spread it makes 2015 look like a good year for the roses.