Thursday, 10 November 2011

At the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month... 93 years ago

Spain was a neutral country in WWI and for that reason there's almost no emotional attachment to this period of history in my country. And probably for that reason too, it is only very lightly covered in the Spanish school's official programs. The knowledge among the general public is low at best.

After 30 years wargaming and tasting almost all possible gaming periods, I never felt particularly attracted to play WWI... until 3 years ago when in my local club I got hooked by one of the best scenery displays put on a table by two of my club members, who were playing WWI in Africa.

And what initially was pure visual attraction has become now one of my favourite periods. Wargaming is just a side of my hobbies, the other is  historical researching  the periods that I play. I boast to have a nice history book library and over these three years it has been fed with a signficant amount of WWI literature (you can see many of the books I've read in the "shelfari" section of this blog).

But  I've also learned  the very special emotional dimension that this conflict represents for many anglo-saxon countries and specially for the United Kingdom. I lived 5 years in London in th second half of the 90s  and it did not go unnoticed to me that by the time this year almost every person around wore those funny plastic or paper red poppy flowers garments... but never stopped to consider their true significance, beyond seeing in them another eccentricity of these British chaps.

Now I know, now I understand... and I deeply respect the feelings, the collective effort of the British people to not forget those relatives or friends, even after 93 years, those "normal" persons like any of us today, working as shopkeepers, bankers, drivers; high or low class; who heard the call of duty and voluntarely, one day between 1914 and 1918 decided to wear the kakhi uniform, at the cost of losing their  life for many of them.

Lest we forget...


  1. Thanks for the post, Anibal.

    Here in Australia Rememberance Day is not as well observed as is ANZAC Day (25 April, the anniversary of the Gallipoli landings) which has become our national day of rememberance of the fallen in all conflicts Australia has been involved in. In general the level of interest and observance of these days is growing as our last veterans from this period died.

    The fact that we still have soldiers fighting and dying overseas is also a reason to remember the fallen, whatever we think of the reasons for the conflict. This is a more mature and balanced response in stark contrast to the way we treated our Vietnam veterans.

  2. Very good post. As it happened this post came through just after 11am here in NZ. Great timing. As Rosbif has already said, ANZAC day is the big one here.

  3. Thanks for that post. Us Brits are an eccentric bunch but I've only recently realised how widespread is the significance of the Poppy as a symbol. Its mostly associated with the USA or commonwealth countries but that accounts for a significant portion of the globe!

    For me its not the colour of the uniform, or what side the soldier was on. These were ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances and they paid the ultimate price. They all deserve to be remembered because Armistice Day isn't a victory parade, its a moment of collective remembrance.

  4. A very fine post Benito. And fine comments by Rosbif, Rodger and Lee. Thank you all.

  5. Me uno a vuestros comentarios, desde un país donde nuestra historia militar esta denostada y nos avergonzamos de nuestro pasado.
    Seguros que soldados españoles lucharon y murieron por un ideal sin juzgar si este ere correcto o no.
    Un sentido recuerdo para todos ellos