CADETS ON THE BATTLEFIELDS. THE JOURNAL OF THE YPRES LEAGUE. Vol. 2. No. 8. Published Quarterly. October, 1925. By SIR PHILIP GIBBS, K.BE- The inspiration that was aroused among a body of cadets who were recently taken on a visit to the battlefields under the guidance of Brig.-General R. B. Colvin, C.B., encourages the hope that more may be done in this way for the younger generation of boys whose fathers or elder brothers fought in the Great War. The young men of to-day getting beyond school age or belonging to cadet corps were children in 1914. They have but dim memories of the War days, the vaguest knowledge of battles which decided the fate of Europe, no conception at all of the geography and character of the ground on which they were fought. It is doubtful whether boys of sixteen onwards to-day could give any account whatever of the retreat from Hons, the first and second battles of Ypres, the struggle on the Somme, the capture of Messines, or any great action on the Western Front. Later on these things will be taught in history and young students of the future will at least learn something about the heroic valour and stupendous sacrifice of their own peopletheir forefathersin France and Flanders. They will study this historic drama on maps. They will read, perhaps, some masterpiece of description in which the spirit and meaning of the War and its most astounding episodes of human courage will thrill them with intense emotion. Those future boys will have the advantage of many now living so close to the Great War that there is a conspiracy of silence about it, because people wish to forget its sorrows and tragedy, and because men who fought in it are afraid of boring their sons by harking back to their own experience and making it a subject of conversation. We have gone too far in that forgetfulness. It is not fair on the men who fell that we should be so silent now about the War and all that they had to face and suffer, and all that they did in courage and endurance. It is not fair even on the boys of to-day that the memories of the War should be hidden from them, and that they should be allowed to grow up in ignorance of the ven- battle names which meant so much to their fathers or elder brothers. Have they ever heard of Mametz, or Contalmaison, Loupart Wood, or Flers, Dickebusch or Yermelles, Marcoing, or Villers Bretoneux, or more than a few of those thousand and one villages, ridges, woods, hummocks of earth, or strong points for which men of their own flesh and blood fought desperately or through which they passed during the years of war so often that their bits of ruin, their dead trees, their shell broken ground became the most familiar things in life It is not good that those names should fade out of the minds of our people, or that the geography of our battlefields in France, haunted for ever by the immortal spirit of British youth should be a No Man's Land as far as the younger generation is concerned. a


The Ypres Times (1921-1936) | 1925 | | pagina 3