Things you might not have known about the Great War 1914-18

Starting soon, and intended to be daily (just about): my new blog feature From the First World War

Over the next five years, if I’m spared, I’ll regularly post facts you mightn’t have known about the Great War. I’ll concentrate on the little-known, the not-as-known-as-it-should be, and add any well-worn yarns that seem too good to leave out. I won’t strain for originality. And afterall,  everything is new to somebody.

I did consider calling the series Thank God, the Australians. In the marvellous Geoffrey Serle’s biography of Sir John Monash (“the only general of creative genius that the Great War produced, on either side” — historian AJP Taylor), there is a story of how, in the crisis of 1918, when Monash had brought up his troops and joined the other generals, he was greeted simply with the words “Thank God! The Australians!”  For long afterwards it became — and may still be — a Monash family joke, when one of them was late for a gathering, for  the firstcomers to say “Thank God! The Australians!”

I want to wander over the whole subject, so, though the Australians were in from the first* day until after the last,  Australia will be over-represented only accidentally and inevitably, as a result of my own origins and interests.

*  (The first firing by any British Empire forces was fired in Melbourne, of all places, showing a German ship that happened to be in port that we meant business).

Thus,  there will a some numerical bias towards Australia in the posting. And  — I can just see this coming — there are going to be plenty of posts about Monash. No apologies about that!


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