If Ye Break Faith

This blog is dedicated to the promotion of educating about the Canadian experience of World War One. To discover who we are as a nation in the 21st Century, we must understand our past.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Wide Reaching and Lasting Influence

I began yesterday's column calling out for a more open format for this space.  Already, some of you have begun posting relevant links on our Facebook Page, about which I am quite pleased, and look forward to seeing more.  It is not just the numerical increase in audience that Operation AMPLIFY has set out to achieve, but a more responsive audience overall (as well as the secondary goal of meeting our funding needs, see our campaign at IndieGoGo.)  So, towards a desire to engage in this responsive fashion, I'm once again making an adjustment to our format.  Going forward, beginning today, I will introduce on Tuesdays a discussion topic open to all to comment, debate or opine upon.

The first of these is a big one:  The four years encompassing the First World War is a period of time far more influential than any other event over the same amount of time in human history.

The war, either directly or indirectly contributed to a vast amount of social, political, and economic changes which not only shaped the immediate period contemporary to the war, but well beyond and in some instances is still felt today and will be so well into the future.  Some of these items are: The beginning of the end of Colonial Imperialism (a process which is still under way) and the start of a shift to Corporate Imperialism; The collapse of the last absolute monarchic powers in Europe; inception of Communism as a practical system of government as opposed to a thought experiment philosophy; emergence of the United States as a world power, and the decline of Britain from this position; technological advances and improvements made as a necessity of war; the arbitrary division of the Middle East into nation-states; the empowerment of women; it perpetuated in its immediate wake a series of global economic booms and crises such as never experienced in scale and duration, and one other example that comes to mind.

Which is, of course, the poorly enacted and ambiguous peace which left the door open for the events of the Second World War.

So, why is it that WWI is not more widely regarded as the most influential period in human history?  Why is it that I expect to have many comments taking an opposite view as mine?  It is this:  We have been long sold on the notion that the war is a mistake of history, a preventable error which did nothing but destroy life and waste money.  It is only the inconclusiveness of the peace which lead to the Second World War that usually has any cause to claim historical influence.  That we can pigeon-hole the Second World War along more definitive lines of "good v. evil" is partly due to the nature of the conflict itself, it's clear ending in Allied victory and being more recent takes some of the thunder away from the study of the influence of the First.

  A far more accurate assessment in my opinion is that there is only one World War, fought with a rather long "time-out" period in-between open hostilities.  Agree or disagree, I leave it up to you.  Post your opinions and arguments in the comments section below, or to ifyebreakfaith@gmail.com.  We will revisit your submissions to this discussion next Tuesday, before introducing the next discussion topic (if you have a suggestion for that, send us your ideas.)

Monday, 19 December 2011

War on Film

It speaks to the long road we've yet to go as far as audience growth when I can take a weekend off and it escapes notice.  Operation AMPLIFY is still in effect, and running until 31January 2012.  We've got that amount of time to drive our audience into the thousands and hopefully collect enough voluntary contributions to register the business and move ahead to achieve the goals of this project as a not-for-profit.  Fortunately, some of the new audience members and Twitter followers we've gained are great additions to the professional network "If Ye Break Faith" is establishing; but I will admit to getting discouraged by the slowness of growth, and the complete dearth of contributions to our IndieGoGo project funding page.  The other part that discourages me is that I want this space to become a bit more interactive than it is now, and I've yet to experience any great level of feedback or participation from my readers.

Is this work even worth continuing?  The goals are worth striving for to be sure; furthering the education of history, preserving the records and artefacts of our past, and giving support to our veterans, interconnected by the means of using the First World War as our focus subject.  I'd like to know your thoughts.  Where am I falling short, and where am I meeting expectation?  Is there a blind spot to the success of this project that I fail to see?  Is there anything in particular you would like me to explore in an essay, or a cause which falls within our mandate that we can help support through this space? Questions, comments, suggestions, complaints should be forwarded to ifyebreakfaith@gmail.com.  We can also be found on Facebook.  Feel free to post relevant links on our page; some of you have already done so, but I'd really like to see more.

I've been re-watching the 1964 tri-national (UK, Canadian, Australian) production "The Great War".  I've not had it to hand for very long, and already I'm nearly through the whole twenty-odd episode series twice over.  It's difficult to find a good documentary that covers the history of the entire war, and this one is the best of the ones I've seen.  What it brings to mind is in the telling of a story on film, one has to have compelling images to work with.  It is quite remarkable to realise that almost all of the "combat footage" in this series, and in fact in most films and television projects documenting war is largely recreated.  Even to such a psychological level as having the Allies for the most part moving from left to right on screen and the Germans right to left (even if the film negative has to be reversed to do so) so that in our minds eye the Allies are headed east and the Germans west.  One can excuse the lack of genuine front line footage from the First World War, as the technology was new, heavy and cumbersome.  The medium of film was so novel and popular that as soon as was possible the public was being informed on the war through moving pictures.  It hadn't been quite fifty years since the public had seen the first still photographs of war, via the American Civil War, and the appetite for the public to know what a war looked like had just been whetted.

The difficulty that arises is that, due to technology being new to film genuine scenes of action was not always possible, and perhaps most importantly, the public couldn't be shown the whole story.  I've gone over very briefly about press censorship during the war, and the intent was very clear.  The public must be given only the information they need to continue to support their government in pursuing the war.  A civil mind by its nature does not understand the martial, and cannot empathise with the way in which the military operates or the true face of war.  The images the home population were to consume in picture houses would be tailor made to evoke just the right kind of emotive response, and no other.

There then becomes a delicate balance.  It is one in which the public are given the media they wish to see, as close as to the truth as is dared, but not so that the message intended is lost.  As the century unfolded, and our ability to communicate with audio and film improved; as well as the speed at which these ideas could be disseminated, the ability for the government to exercise tight control of the media lessened.  By the late 1960's, daily televised broadcasts, mainly from Indochina were shocking an uninitiated public with uncut spontaneous film of combat actions.  What this did, for the very first time was prove Erasmus' thought: "War is more delightful to those who have never experienced it."  The experience may have been quite vicarious, but the daily dose of difficult images played a large part in developing American public opinion against their government's decision to deploy into Vietnam.

I won't discuss the politics of going to war here.  The point I wish to make is that even though in this day and age we may be able to see unedited footage of war, it is something I believe we are not meant to see.  By and large, the civil mind does not understand war.  It wants to, desires to know, but cannot unless the experience is first hand.  Feeding the appetite for the public to view war does not equate understanding, which is the most important thing.  If we all understood war as well as those who have seen it do, we might not have so much of them.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Seek and You Shall Find

Keeping up with this site and the project it supports can be done by following our Facebook Page, and Twitter Feed.  Any suggestions, questions or comments, please forward them to me here: ifyebreakfaith@gmail.com.

Special thanks to GreatWar FouteenEighteen for posting a reading suggestion on our Group Page.  I deeply encourage this type of contribution.  "If Ye Break Faith" is primarily about the perpetuation of the education of history.  If you have something to share, please do so.  It would be a pleasure to see an open dialogue not just between myself and the audience, but all of us as members of "If Ye Break Faith."

As far as history education goes, I may actually be doing more than I realise without doing anything in particular.  Let me explain that.  One of the great tools at my disposal with this blog site is a fairly comprehensive statistic counter.  I can see where my site traffic is coming from, even to Google search terms that netted in a visit.  I really get a kick out of some of the searches that have wound people up on our shores, sometimes the connection to subject matter and search term is quite tenuous, and other times intent is clear.  Students needing to research certain aspects of the war have been, little by little, drawn to our work here.  The most popular search parameters this week have to do with the Home Front during the war; and in the past hot topics have been medical treatment of the wounded, the dissemination of what countries were involved in the war and on which side, along with a host of other subjects I've touched upon.  Occasionally, I have found people coming to IYBF while searching for a particular bit of history, information on a family member usually.  It's a shame that I can't trace who made the searches, because I'd like to be able to help them with their quest.  Remember, IYBF was initiated to tell personal stories, to bring humanity to history, so it feels a bit of a failure when this site cannot provide information being sought.

The delight is that somewhere out there might be a student writing an essay on the Great War who has used information I've imparted to help formulate their thoughts.  In a way, I'm teaching.  Which is kind of cool because I really haven't had opportunity to teach in the formal sense since I left the army (where I was an instructor) and I enjoy the idea of spreading knowledge.

You see, I once (very briefly) tried to market myself as a "Freelance Historian."  It sounds a bit of a strange concept, but what I was finding was that people keen on their genealogy were now able to receive huge amounts of documented information via "Ancestry" sites.  The problem was that most of these people had no understanding of the context or relevance of some of the information they had come to possess.  Someone was needed to interpret for them the significance.  A case in point if a friend's mother-in-law receiving a box of memorabilia from her father who had just passed away.  He had been with the Essex Scottish (2nd Canadian Division) at Dieppe in 1942, where he was taken prisoner.  There was a treasure trove of items, from the correspondence between the soldier's mother and the Red Cross for six agonizing months trying to determine if her son was a prisoner of war or worse, to lapel pins and badges, one of them a Hitler Youth button celebrating "FurhersTag" (Quite a different way to spend the 20th of April back then, eh?) It was a very rewarding afternoon, as I got to handle a wide assortment of physical history and be able to piece a little of this man's story together which I hope helped his daughter to better understand what he went through.

What I like is that I really do gain a sense of satisfaction by believing that something I may have written has helped to foster understanding of the past.  That this so far has been on a very small scale makes me anticipate the opportunity to address a wider audience as the reward of a feeling of worth will be proportional, and how fantastic would that be?

Let me encourage you then, to submit questions, topic suggestions or anything you'd like for us to look into.  I look forward to this space becoming far more interactive than it is now, even to the point of members helping members with research, interpretation and understanding; making this site an open forum to discuss the historical relevance of the First World War with the power to spread that message through further education, efforts to preserve the physical links we have to our past and keeping the gratitude for our veterans present throughout the year.  That is what "If Ye Break Faith" is meant to do, what it definitely has the potential to to do so, and needs your help in order to enable it to do so.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Time Keeps on Slipping

Keeping up with this site and the project it supports can be done by following our Facebook Page, and Twitter Feed.  Any suggestions, questions or comments, please forward them to me here: ifyebreakfaith@gmail.com.

Perhaps I'm just not good at self promotion.  I do believe in what we are doing, and the best opportunity to fulfil those objectives are through a campaign like AMPLIFY, but I'm much more of a writer and lover of history than a marketer, and I just can't do this alone.  So, a big thanks to the efforts made already, and a pre-emptive thanks for the continued drive to success.  Let's all work together to make this happen.

A friend of mine is relaunching his business, an executive coaching venture, and has invited me to take a look at some of his supporting documents.  For me, this is an opportunity to do some copy writing work, an exciting prospect.  To that purpose, I've been thinking a lot about the symbolic nature of his own logo, a brush painted circle.  It makes sense for his work as it speaks towards the personal journey one embarks upon to find the qualities in oneself which have been neglected to the detriment of success.  The circle, or ring, has a deep an abiding significance throughout our history, and it is along those lines that I was developing some introductory copy for my friend's site.  Of course, I tried relating some of the observations I intended to make to my project.  It works, but after a fashion.

Time, or at least our understanding and imposed method of measuring this dimension is linear.  We are forever in the present, the past is what has happened and the future yet to be.  Exploring the theoretical edge of time in a metaphysical way, what with the expansion and eventual retraction of the universe it could possibly be circular, we just don't know it.  There is nothing we can do to alter what has happened and only a best guess can be made as to what will happen.  This is both what makes the study of history relevant and frustrating at times.  Once an event has moved into the past, we can only use what evidence we have on hand to evaluate the event and the effect it has on the present or will have on the future.  The real trick, in order to delve deep into the past to extract it's lessons is objectivity.  To say that the objective study of history is difficult is mastering understatement.  Since our own identity, as individuals, is tied into familial, cultural and social factors, we are more inclined to be subjective.  Thinking about our story, and the past that it has come out of is an emotionally driven prospect which can lead us to observe the past more perhaps as we would wish to see it rather than it actually was.  Any evidence that challenges perception of our past is often treated with contempt at first, because it threatens to take away from an identity we've made for ourselves.

British Recruits, August 1914
Where the First World War is concerned, it is still widely viewed as a conflict that shouldn't have happened, a waste of lives and money in a futile event which didn't seem to change anything.  Even writing that sentence, it mystifies me that there are those who think this way about World War One.  More than likely, they'll be people willing to talk about how much WWII changed the face of history.  I no longer point out the irony in their thinking.  My own thought is that the events surrounding the onset of the Twentieth Century, of which the most prevalent is the war come from a long and interlinked history, and has shaped the course of political and social movement in ways that are still apparent today.

It is our goal here, using the First World War as our touchstone, to best extract what lessons can be imparted from our collective story, and how best to apply those lessons to encourage a peaceful future for us all.  Time may well be linear, but the cause and effect of past events which continue to impact us should be the encouragement we need to plumb the depths of our stories to evaluate a potential course of following events.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Notes for a Weekend In

For the first five days, I am really quite pleased at the early results from Operation AMPLIFY.  These numbers notwithstanding, there is a lot more yet to achieve, so I know that time over the weekend for me means time to think on how I can improve the reach scope and response of this project.  If anyone has any input, now would be the time.  I have yet to have a single respondent to my request for volunteer logo design.  I wouldn't ask if I could do it myself.  I leave only a link to our Promotional Video to prove my inadequacies at design.  Contributions are also behind.  Please visit our funding project at IndieGoGo and give if you can.  Don't be put off by the lofty goal I've set on that site, by the way.  Our immediate concern is the $1 000 prudent reserve needed to push through our registration documents. Regardless, show your support for If Ye Break Faith and Operation AMPLIFY by joining the Facebook Event Page.  It's an open invite, so all are welcome to join.  Important news and updates with regards the development of the operation will be posted through there.

I had wanted to engage in a bit of an interview with someone in my network to have that as today's update, but I think I need to allow a little more lead time.  I wanted to discuss the great work being done to assemble The Great War's Essential Reading List; found here.  It contains a catalogue of nearly 1400 titles pertaining to study of the First World War, on a wide variety of subjects and selection of languages.  The list is quite comprehensive, the books within it described well and is updated surprisingly often.  Prior to Remembrance Week, they held a user poll to determine the top twenty-five books within the list.  Many books I have gone to to make reference, or may have read for my own enjoyment found their way to that top twenty-five, and I always have opportunity to learn about aspects of the war my focus of study tends to overlook.

I love books.  I don't own a lot of fancy things, I haven't terribly posh tastes- in my estimation I own nothing more valuable than my books.  The enjoyment I get by looking at them, happily organised in their ranks on my shelves is something I fail to explain adequately to others that doesn't leave them with quizzical looks and questions of my sanity.  About fifteen years ago, my great-uncle gave me a gift of a book that detailed the organisation of the Scottish regiments.  He added a dedication to me in which he mentioned that he hoped this book would make an excellent addition to my library.  I looked at my shelves bulging with titles, and realised for the first time that a library is what I had.  I'd rarely felt so fulfilled.  While I do own an e-reader, and like the fact that I can cram ten times as many books as I now own onto the thing, I don't think I will ever be prepared to give up on the aesthetic quality of a weighty leaf of bound pages; something to be pulled from a shelf, admired, thumbed through with a look, feel and smell of its own.

To that end, I'm looking out my window at a steel-grey December sky.  Occasionally a lone flurry will break loose and gravitate wistfully towards the earth, each one carrying the threat that more will follow.  It is still and cold and spare.  Along with thinking on how to bring AMPLIFY through its second week, I imagine that I shall spend a great deal of time this weekend with one of my favourites: "The Western Front" by Richard Holmes.  Brig. Holmes is one writer of history I particularly admire.  His narrative style and desire to tell personal stories from contemporary sources is one I would wish to emulate.  His career was quite prolific, and there are a number of titles he wrote on a wide variety of historical subjects.  Of any I have read, they are all fantastic.  Brig. Holmes passed away just this last April, but he's left a respectable body of work to be fondly remembered for.  "The Western Front" could best be described as a 'primer' on the war as it was in Europe from 1914-1918.  It is simple without being simplistic, and in my opinion, a great starting point for someone interested in the war who hasn't studied it extensively.  Brig. Holmes doesnt' just relate fact, though.  He often brings up points of contention or long standing controversy, explains them and possible conclusions in an understandable fashion.  When I speak of having history appeal to a wider audience, it's to writers like Brig. Holmes I look to for inspiration.  Have a good weekend, folks, I shall see you all here (and with luck a whole bunch of new followers, too) Monday.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Shrapnel and Mettle

Well, friends, I do apologise for the delays in updates.  Interruptions in the water service to my building have required me to be a bit flexible in my timings, and the unfortunate thing means that posting to my column here has had to be held off in interest of making time for other items on my agenda.

I was, though, very saddened this morning upon receiving the news that a friend of mine had just lost his best cat friend.  It got me thinking about loss and how we cope with it; and how very different it must have been to cope with the volume and type of loss common to the Western Front.  More on that shortly.

Keeping up with this site and the project it supports can be done by following our Facebook Page, and Twitter Feed.  Any suggestions, questions or comments, please forward them to me here: ifyebreakfaith@gmail.com.

Death rarely comes neatly in war.  The human body is fragile and the instruments of war are designed with the intent to to do as much harm as is possible.  That may seem a bit of an obvious statement, but one that requires a bit of reflection.  The main cause of casualties on the Western Front, perhaps not surprisingly, was via the artillery.  Shrapnel and shell-splinters accounted for the majority of combat injuries which is reasonable considering the environment of trench warfare and the role artillery had in dislodging defensive forces.  This particular way in which the First World War was fought actually lent a lot to the disturbing number of men who's remains were never found, or conversely the ability to identify remains once discovered.  A shell burst might bury men within a trench, completely obliterate a casualty by force of explosion or even displace bodies buried from previous attacks.  Ground was contested time and again over the length of the war, and the danger of no-man's land often made removing the dead from the field an impossible task.  There were incidences where temporary cease-fires were arranged, such as between ANZAC and Ottoman forces during the Gallipoli campaign to attend to casualties.  More often it was reliant upon medical staff to put themselves at great risk to bring casualties in for treatment. Sometimes, it was just not possible to be done.

Let's also keep in mind the kind of society from which the combatants of the war came from.  Disease and deformity were by far a more common sight; and many men, even if they were more town than country would have had more first hand experience with slaughter of livestock than today.  This might mean that they would be perhaps more inured to death and blood.  Even taking that into account, though, the sheer industrial scale of destruction was quite beyond any event could have prepared them for.  The human desire for closure, especially towards a tragic event as death would have been as strong then as it is now.

There are thousands of families who even today have no definitive knowledge of how, when or exactly where a loved one was killed.  To this end there have been small victories through the diligent work of researchers and volunteers who take great pains to identify the remains which become disinterred from time to time all along where the Front used to stand.  Sadly, there are not enough people to do this type of work, and sometimes there is just not enough evidence found with a body to even hazard a guess as to whom the person was.  The "unknown soldier" of the First World War is a testament to those who will never be identified, as well as being symbolic of the anonymous slaughter of industrial warfare.

The fact that despite losses, death and wounds which would have had an effect on an emotional level, men on both sides carried on.  There was no immunity from this, as even Field Marshal Haig was advised by his staff to stop visiting wounded in hospital because of the melancholy effect it was having on the Commander-in-Chief.   It's hard, if not impossible to understand the motivation, the sheer force of will that was required of the combatants of the First World War to carry on in the face of their own mortality.  It gives us pause to think about how a decision give up on something in this day and age might seem terribly trivial in perspective.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Broken Telephone

Keeping up with this site and the project it supports can be done by following our Facebook Page, and Twitter Feed.  Any suggestions, questions or comments, please forward them to me here: ifyebreakfaith@gmail.com.

In thinking on that, I'm reminded of the aphorism that "no plan ever survives the first contact."  It's a good reminder to have contingent options available; that one's plans should never be too rigid and allow for some flexibility.  Of course, get me started thinking about military analogies and I could go on.  In this case, I was just last week caught up in a bitter fight with my mobile phone provider.  I had switched to this company after finally being fed up with the other.  Initially, I was very pleased with the deal.  Just a little more per month for service, but a lot more options, a better phone wider coverage and more flexibility.  The phone itself, though, turned out to be defective and from Tuesday on until Friday over multiple attempts I was finally offered a solution that I found satisfactory.  The difficulty is that mobile phone companies have set their policies so rigidly that they have no ability to make exceptions, even when they want to, and in my opinion really should.  The process was exhausting.  The upshot is that until I receive the replacement phone, I'm considerably out of the loop.  I feel lost and disconnected in such a way that would have been impossible to imagine not ten years ago; and I arrived late to the cellphone party.

I've spoken in a fashion about methods of media communication in Messages of War, but I haven't much discussed the importance of military communications.  Which in itself is a heck of an oversight being that I'm a former radio operator.  Lines of communication are absolutely crucial to the conduct of battle, and have been so always.  Sun Tzu makes several mentions of using flags, drums and horns for methods of signalling, our own traditional reverence for "colours" (read military flags) comes from the period in time when it was crucial to keep them flying and visible to help organise men in the thick smoke that black powder battles created.  In Wellington's day, it might well have been possible for the Iron Duke to be in visual contact with his regiments, at the very least by their colours.  Should he need to send a message, a rider could be out and back in short order.

Advance time on a century and things had changed a great deal.  Mostly we can ascribe culpability to technological advances, but what needs to be taken into account is the sheer scale of the First World War in numbers of men.  Britain especially struggled with this as her pre-war army was designed to be a small professional force for colonial administration.  To fight a European war would require her to grow in size beyond anybody's first estimation, and operate in organisational sizes (Corps, Armies) and structures it had no practice with.  Now a headquarters was responsible for directing battles for elements its commander couldn't possibly see all at once even if lines of visibility allowed.  The trenches and the stagnant nature of defensive warfare allowed for the establishment of incredibly complex telephone networks between the front, headquarters and the artillery on the gun line, by and large bringing effective and timely communication between elements.  The wires were delicate and easily cut by shrapnel.  Teams of signalmen were employed full time in finding and repairing damage to the wiring, often "laddering" cables with multiple connections so that one blast might not knock out the 'phones.  When in one place, a wired network is acceptable, but an army will need to advance sooner or later.

To their credit, signallers would try to bring telephones and cables forward during an attack, but it was usually better to wait until a position had been consolidated before doing so.  In the meantime, in the heat of battle, there were only more traditional methods to rely upon.  Some units may have had pigeons or even dogs to take messages back to the rear; most would rely on the runner to facilitate communications.  It is in that where a lot of things can go wrong.

A runner or dispatch rider can only carry the message as fast as he can run or ride; and that's not taking into account the conditions of the ground over which he must travel.  Each message, whether to confirm a taken objective or to ask for further instructions has a longer way to go the higher up the chain it has to get.  The delay could be several minutes at the least, when several seconds may be too much time before the situation changes.  The opportunity for misunderstanding the situation using this form of communication is rife, one example which comes to mind is the breakdown during Second Ypres in which fighting units of the 3d Canadian Brigade didn't receive the orders from their commander to fall back to a defensive line around Brigade headquarters.  That they didn't do this was fine as the situation was such that General Turner believed his command to be in a more dire situation than it was.  Not having instantaneous communication with higher headquarters also meant that artillery couldn't be used on demand.  There were pre-arranged signals using coloured flares to call shelling down on established targets, but most bombardments were planned in advance and fairly inflexible once begun.  

The nature of communication and the fluidity of the situation on the firing line necessitated some solution so that commanders who by necessity had to be well back from the front could better control their men in the field.  Setting limited, shorter to reach objectives and moving units through in a leap-frog fashion meant that units fighting were in close contact from time to time with units coming in from the rear; hopefully with news or updated orders.  The other solution was to give more autonomy to junior officers, and encourage initiative; allowing company commanders and platoon leaders to deploy their men as the situation they saw (and their commanders couldn't) dictated.  It wouldn't be for another generation that wireless communication would be reliable or portable enough to go into the field.  It's not a great leap of logic to understand that the military's need for instantaneous communications has led us to the point where we panic each time we leave the house without our phones.

Remember, it's up to all of us to get this project to its objective.  I've sent a news release to some media contacts in hopes of generating publicity, and informing our social networks will get the word out.  Contributions to the project can be made through IndieGoGo.  We really don't need much to get started, but it would be nice to reach our $1000 goal quickly so that we can make donations of anything we receive beyond that reserve.

Let people know that we are on Facebook and Twitter.  We still need a volunteer with some artistic skill to help out with our new logo, and to take a crack at improving our promotional video.  If you think you can help, or if you have any ideas, thoughts, suggestions or questions, post them here.

I shall see you all (and hopefully more) tomorrow!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Such Pleasant Company Being Right Beside Dedicated Comrades Always

Three things about the title of today's post.  It's perhaps the longest one yet; it is a true statement and it's once again an attempt at being clever.  As I illustrated in an earlier post, "Order of Battle" the organisation of armies can be confusing to initiates.  Fact is, sometimes I have trouble remembering which one goes where.  So, I invented a mnemonic device as an aide-memoir for the order Section, Platoon, Company, Battalion, Regiment, Brigade, Division, Corps and Army.  Pretty neat, eh?  I'm not 100% happy in using "Company" for "Company", it feels a bit like cheating.  If you can come up with something better, I'd love to see it and feature it in this column.  Send your mnemonics to our email; along with other suggestions, comments and questions.

As many of you know, "If Ye Break Faith" is gearing up to (hopefully) go live 01January 2012.  In my estimation, we're well behind where we need to be to meet that goal.  I've gone back to ones to figure out where I was falling short.  To that end, there are a number of upcoming changes.

Before I get into details, I want to credit someone who recently inspired me to re-invigorate my approach to my work.  I ran into a young fellow called Tyler whom I know through his friends, neighbours of mine.  He was wearing a poppy on his jacket as late as the 28th of November.  I remarked my pleasure at seeing this display. "It shouldn't be for just one day," he said by way of explanation, "we should always remember what our veterans have done for us."  I don't think I could have put it better, and knowing that there are folks out there that value these sentiments that this project hasn't reached yet means I need to work much harder.

Beginning Monday, this site will update daily from Monday to Friday.  Posts inclusive of the short subject essays on the Great War will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Mondays and Wednesdays will feature links and media to other First War resources.  On Fridays, taking a page from Twitter, posts will help promote sites with which IYBF have common goals.

Keeping up with this site and the project it supports can be done by following our Facebook Page, and Twitter Feed.  Any suggestions, questions or comments, please forward them to me here: ifyebreakfaith@gmail.com.

I enjoy bringing this work to you, and look forward to the project reaching it's potential.  I shall see you all (and hopefully some of your friends, too) on Monday, ready to dig in and carry on.