Will we ever get the whole story of the Great War?

15th November 2013 at 00:00

I write in relation to your article on the "whole story" of the First World War ("The first casualty: truth", Feature, 8 November). It states: "By the war's end, the British Army was one of the most sophisticated war machines ever developed ... (smashing) German lines." That may well be true, but it must also be acknowledged that in the last few months of the war, that same army experienced the highest level of casualties since the Somme campaigns of 1916, so perhaps things had not changed substantially for the ordinary soldier.

One reason I know this is because my grandfather, who went out in July 1918, was one of only 47 survivors of the 1,050 men who left England and made it through to a small village just south of Tournai, in Belgium, by Armistice Day. His commanding officer, a Colonel Wilson, lined these men up and shook their hands to congratulate them on their luck. The rest were killed or wounded.

As my grandfather said to me when I was younger: "Not so good, was it? What do you think about that?" I think I am lucky that he did survive.

Gerry Bennett, History teacher, Guildford, Surrey.

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