Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Counting the Cost

Pause for thought
I’m not sure I have point here so bear with me.

Down the road from work is a (pictured) war memorial. As these things go it’s not a bad one. They are never going to show soldiers fighting on the Somme in their true state i.e. hiding in shell holes desperately trying to dodge machine gun fire. But at least this one shows a man in battle dress keeping an eye on us all looking like a normal if slightly heroic Tommy. Whatever you think of war having memorials to the people who died in them in and around where we live and work must be a good thing, even if sadly like me most people walk past them without taking much notice.

One of the most chilling things that probably goes unremarked by most people passing this statute is the inscription half way down that says.

“To the glorious memory of the 22000 Royal Fusiliers who fell in the Great War
1914 – 1919.”

That’s 22,000 dead or a well attended football match or maybe Oxford Street when it’s very busy.

The list of Royal fusiliers regiments (they were a London based Battalion) all have regiment names like the bankers, lawyers, public schools, sportsmen, East ham and of course “Young soldier” which serve further humanise the loss.
Underneath in a slightly legal phrase is:

Being opposite the Inns of Court I suppose “subsequent” is appropriate cold legal term the sort you find in a lease “the landlord reserves the right... any subsequent damage...”
It almost seems like they couldn’t face counting once they’d reached 22,000.

Like I say I’m not sure if I have point really just that when it comes to people dying it’s too easy to get lost in statistics (putting aside Stalin's pithy remarks on the subject) each death on any side is tragedy worth remembering.

1 comment:

al_uk said...

I must admit I made the same point to Barbara the other day. Without wishing to belittle the deaths of our soldiers in Afghanistan over the last few days. The opening day of the Somme saw the British suffer 19,240 dead, 35,493 wounded, 2,152 missing and 585 prisoners for a total loss of 57,470. We tried to imagine how modern news reporting would cover that!