|Books by Richard Whitten Barnes||
While researching for my Historical WW1 novel, ENEMIES, I was fortunate to be given the memoir of Ronald Pook, a grandparent of dear friends. I would like to share--word for word--this eloquently written passage. I'll let you decide whether we, as a species, have learned anything in the ensuing hundred years since.
(An) incident took place while our battalion was bivouacked on the outskirts of the ancient village of La Clyte which nestled on the gently enfolding hills of the Belgian countryside. Sadly, this ancient village was no more. It had been smashed to pieces, totally destroyed, as had the surrounding farms which supported it, and it, them.
A tiny cosmos. Its inhabitants had been "evacuated" to France, torn from their hearths. Many, many of their sons dead. The social fabric of this ancient enclave, the church, the estaminet (pub), the tiny stores, the blacksmith shop, the Mayor in his regalia, the loves, the feuds, delicate as a spider's web--forever broken.
The newspapers, the statesmen, the politicians were naturally stressing the ebb and flow of the battlefield, the casualties, the loss or gain of ground. But here in La Clyte was a picture of the true tragedy, the collapse of Western European society.