Biblitz delivers advise

ASK Biblitz about World War.

"As if anyone would want to assassinate me!" he laughed gaily ...

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A favorite Biblitz forebear, one of the more attractive, who was blown up repeatedly in the muddy trenches of France in WWI, destroying his hearing and hence a variety of employment opportunities, which were scarce enough in those halcyon post-war days. He frequently regaled the child Biblitz with a refreshing excess of milk chocolate, advising self to seek work in a bank of some kind just to see how they work the levers, so to speak - excellent advice never heeded with the unhappy, not unexpected result: bank 10, Biblitz nil.

BBC History

No More War

What awaited First World War soldiers after the Armistice? Peter Hart reveals how those who survived the carnage coped with their mental and physical scars and the challenges of returning to a Britain that had changed for good.

November, 2009

Millions of men returned home from the war to their homes, families and girlfriends. Most coped well and against all the odds managed to live reasonably happy and contented lives. Yet many men found themselves alone in a crowd. No one had really defined the nature of combat fatigue or post-traumatic stress disorder in the 1920s and there was little psychological help available. Some soldiers back from the front had simply seen too much; experienced too many horrors, to go quietly into the tranquility of civilian life. The collation of symptoms known as shell shock was common, but barely commented on in public life. ...

Thousands suffered the phantom pains of missing limbs, the crippling disabilities, the callous jeers from children in the street, the irreparable rending wounds that reduced life to painful torture, wounds that cannot be looked at without a shudder of horror-filled empathy. They inhabited a world of pain and suffering beyond comprehension: a world of tetraplegics, paraplegics, multiple amputations, wrecked lungs, mutilations, emasculation and blindness.

... The world economy had been severely over-strained and Great Britain found itself chained to an enormous national debt. A worldwide depression left economies teetering on the brink of utter collapse. Once again it was ordinary individuals that suffered most in wave after wave of wage cuts, temporary lay-offs and redundancies. ... (-- pgs. 22-25)

Lest We Forget

A collection of poetry and music dedicated to the memory of those who fell in two world wars

Audio CD
Featuring Derek Jacobi, John Gielgud and the BBC Symphony Orchestra

View the selection of music and poetry that make this sound recording a leader among the world's great tributes to the fallen.

Testament of Youth

By Vera Brittain

See also Goodbye to All That, the memoirs of poet/novelist Robert Graves.

More on the pressure tactics used to get farm boys to sign away theiryoung lives.

It was a very bright, clear September in which the British and French Armies won their decisive victories on the Marne and the Aisne. "ALLIES ADVANCING!" triumphantly announced the placards which told us that Paris had been saved, but though the news sent a shudder of relief through London, the air was thicker than ever with dramatic and improbable rumours. Stories of atrocities mingled with assertions that in ten days' time the Austrian Emperor would be suing for peace and in fourteen the Kaiser fleeing from his people. Edward, while waiting vainly for news from Oxford, composed a violin ballade; he and I were plunged into gloom by a fresh though inaccurate rumour that Fritz Kreisler, his

favourite violinist, had been killed on the Austrian front, but his anxiety lasted longer than mine, for I found St. Monica's garden a most peaceful and appropriate place in which to soliliquise about Roland. He was, I told myself, "a unique experience in my existence; I never think definitely of him as man or boy, as older or younger, taller or shorter than I am, but always of him as a mind in tune with mine, in which many of the notes are quite different from mine but are all in the same key."

Whether it was really true at that time that Roland represented to me only a congenial mind, I cannot now determine. If it was, it did not remain so for very much longer. One afternoon during a game of golf when we had returned to Buxton, Edward and I discovered a fairy ring; I stood in it, and quite suddenly found myself wishing that Roland and I might become lovers, and marry. Edward asked me to tell him my wish. I replied: "I'll tell you if you ask me again in five years' time, for by then the wish will have come true or be about to come true, or it will never come true at all."

Although we had examined, only a day or two before, some Press photographs of the damage done by the German bombardment of Rheims, we still talked as though our life-long security had not been annihilated and time would go on always for those whom we loved. And it was just then that Roland wrote that he had, after all, some chance of a commission in a Norfolk regiment.

"Anyhow," he told me, "I don't think in the circumstances I could easily bring myself to endure a secluded life of scholastic vegetation. It would seem a somewhat cowardly shirking of my obvious duty...I feel that I am meant to take an active part in the War. It is to me a very fascinating thing - something, if often horrible, yet very ennobling and very beautiful, something whose elemental reality raises it above the reach of cold theorizing. You will call me a militarist. You may be right." (From Oxford Versus War, pgs. 103-104)

When at last we came in for Sunday night supper, which our elders had left for us, Roland and I were seized with remorse at our mutual neglect of Edward - who was, however, mentally composing a piano-and-violin sonata, and did not appear to object - and the three of us sat late over the supper-table, discussing psychical research, dreams and premonitions. Roland told us that he had recently gone with his mother to have his hand read by Cheiro, the celebrated palmist, who had warned him that in a year or two he would run the considerable risk of "assassination."

"As if anyone would want to assassinate me!" he laughed gaily, and we agreed that, despite his quite remarkable likeness to ex-King Manoel of Portugal, the possibility seemed remote. (From Provincial Young-Ladyhood, pgs. 83-84)


BBC History

After the war

Juliet Gardiner on a book about rebuilding family life after the Second World War

October, 2008

Stranger in the House

By Julie Summers

... for many the war would never really be over, and it is these people, their lives rent apart by the conflict, that are the subject of Julie Summers's book.

More than four million men and women were mobilised during the Second World War. From 1945 those who had survived - when nearly 300,000 uniformed personnel and more than 63,000 civilians had been killed - started to come home to try to pick up the threads of peacetime life again. This entailed finding a job and somewhere to live in bomb-scarred, shabby, indebted Britain, and to re-establishing the family life some had left more than five years previously. It was never going to be easy. Men who had grown used to an all-male environment of regulated days and easy buddydom, were catapulted back into the routine of domestic life with the responsibilities of being a husband and father, sometimes to a child they had never seen before, born since they went away to war, almost certainly to children who regarded them as a stranger in the house - and in their mother's bed.

Wives who had had to cope alone with the dangers and privations of life on the Home Front, were expected to be able to renounce the independence many had come to enjoy, and make the adjustments necessary to ensure that the 'head of the house' felt he still had that role. ...

Then there were the prisoners of war, particularly those who had been held and tortured by the Japanese, who came back physically and mentally broken, sometimes with dysfunctional phobias, unable to sustain intimate relationships, or hold down a job. There was hardly any official help, practical or psychological, and often families suffered for decades. "It's not your father that's beating you," one child was told by her mother, "it's the Japanese." ... (-- pgs. 66-67)

The War Bride


A char-ming, ad-ven-tu-rous Lon-don or-phan with a rather over-active optimism believes the rubbish Canadian stubble-jumper soldiers typically employed to get females unfamiliar with geography to join them on their lonely farms in the middle of frozen prairie nowhere. This is what happens when education standards are lax. The poor thing arrives on the train with her new baby to the Alberta farm, which had neither running water nor welcoming arms. The groom's mother and sister, feeling unjustly deprived of the hero's pay, which is now going to wife and child, proceed to do their worst to the poor girl, who somehow summons her higher self and takes it on the chin. Happily, the lout returns from the war and rewards his faithful turtledove with a fully-functioning bathroom. In return, as if more should be required, she helps him overcome battle fatigue, which they celebrate by climbing the town's water tower. Brenda Fricker as the miserable mother- in-law captures with disturbing authenticity the provincial dislike of 'outsiders,' including other Canadians, and a general meanness of spirit that typifies, I'm afraid, much of western Canada's bitter character. 'Heartland, schmartland,' sayeth Biblitz!

Here's to that other army that has long trailed war vets:


The Beaver

Canada's History Magazine


Victoria Cross by the numbers

153 Years since the creation of the Victoria Cross. ... 21 The age of the first Canadian to receive the Victoria Cross, Lieutenant Alexander Roberts Dunn, who earned his medal during the Crimean War's Battle of Balaclava in 1854. ... 96 The number of Canadians awarded the Victoria Cross, including 29 who received it posthumously. 3 The number of countries - Canada, Australia, and New Zealand - that created their own version of the Victoria Cross. To accommodate bilingualism, the inscription "for valour" was replaced with the Latin "pro valore" in the Canadian version. 2008 The year the Canadian version of the Victoria Cross was first unveiled. (-- p. 37)

BBC History

November, 2009

Canada's contribution to victory

In 1940 it was primarily two Canadian divisions that stood between the Channel and London - and if the Germans had landed it would have been down to them to protect the capital.

Another example of the sacrifice made by Canadians are the appalling losses it suffered in the Dieppe raid when so many of the soldiers - 88 per cent of them Canadian - were captured, wounded or killed.

Astonishingly for such a sparsely populated country, Canada had the third largest navy in the world in 1945 - which made a big difference to the Allied cause, and in particular to the safe passage of countless convoys to Britain. The Canadians also paid more per capita than the Americans did under lend-lease, and were incredibly generous to Britain during the war. ...

What surprises me is that, de-spite the e-nor-mous con-tri-bu-tion made by Canada in so many ways to the Empire, and the Allied war effort, it played very little part in the overall strategy making. (York Membery spoke to Andrew Roberts, author of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900, p. 36)


A History of Europe Since 1945

By Tony Judt

... if east Europeans paid less attention in retrospect to the plight of the Jews, it was not just because they were indifferent at the time or preoccupied with their own survival. It is because the Communists imposed enough suffering and injustice of their own to forge a whole new layer of resentments and memories.

Between 1945 and 1989 the accumulation of deportations, imprisonments, show trials and 'normalizations' made almost everyone in the Soviet Union either a loser or else complicit in someone else's loss. Apartments, shops and other property that had been appropriated from dead Jews or expelled Germans were all too often re-expropriated a few years later in the name of Socialism - with the result that after 1989 the question of compensation for past losses became hopelessly tangled in dates. Should people be recompensed for what they lost when the Communists seized power? And if such restitution were made, to whom should it go? To those who had come into possession of it after the war, in 1945, only to lose it a few years later? Or should restitution be made to their heirs of those from whom businesses and apartments had been seized or stolen at some point between 1938 and 1945? Which point? 1938? 1939? 1941? On each date there hung politically sensitive definitions of national or ethnic legitimacy as well as moral precedence. (Footnote: When the Czechoslovak parliament voted in 1991 to restitute property seized after the war it explicitly limited the benefits to those expropriated after 1948 - so as to exclude Sudeten Germans expelled in 1945-46, before the Communists seized power). (From Epilogue, p. 823)