Dying in France and in vain

“There is nothing more poignant in British life than to visit the ribbon of cemeteries that marks the front line of 1 July 1916 and to find, on gravestone after gravestone, the fresh wreath, the face of a Pal or Chum above a khaki serge collar staring gravely back from a dim photograph, the pinned poppy and the inscription to ‘a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather.’ The Somme marked the end of an age of vital optimism in British life that has never been recovered.” – John Keegan, The First World War

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