Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Fit enough for a mechanized war?

Many Noble Readers who have read The Deadly Playground, 1914 have been wonderfully kind insofar as they have told me how realistic the book's atmosphere feels. This I take as a great compliment, but it is no accident. Much time was spent in accurately rendering the spirit of the times.

When the Great War broke out in 1914, means were sought in Britain to encourage soldiers to enlist. Germany’s invasion of France and Belgium had been expected in the years before the war, but Britain's attention was largely elsewhere. Her main interests did not so much involve the machinations of Continental politics, but rather the development of her vast empire around the globe.

Britain relied on the English Channel and a powerful navy for defence. Her regular army was only one-tenth the size of Germany's. Moreover, the British instinctively disliked the Continental system of conscription which obliged young men to join the military for two or three years, so there was no reserve of trained men who could be quickly called up.

Nor was there any broadcasting in 1914, not even radio, and people could only be reached by newspapers and posters. Consequently, when the war began, the government’s call was made through these media, and the message was: serve your country now!

What may now seem naive in the light of later events, appeared during the summer of 1914 to be the right thing to do. The nation was under threat. It was clearly the duty of healthy young men to rally to the cause.

However, this was the time when the practices of warfare were first being shaped by mass production techniques on an industrial scale. No one, not even the experts of the day, knew how the coming war would be sought. The foremost instruments of death would turnout to be thousands of miles of barbed wire, tens of thousands of machine guns and millions of high-explosive artillery shells.

Unfortunately, this was not going to be a war in which athletic prowess was particularly required.

The Deadly Playground, 1914 is out now.  Why not click on this link and get yourself a copy?

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