From the distance of almost one hundred years, the Great War, as it was known, has become a romantic and tragic story of lost innocence on a global scale. The conflict spanned continents and destroyed nations, resulting in an estimated 9 million military deaths and a multitude of civilians. Technology and tactics underwent tremendous change in a very short time, which contributed to the mass casualties.
This fall, John Bradley will explore the influential figures of the first world war and the great campaigns that reveal insights into warfare of the period. In addition to discussing the events of the war, Mr. Bradley will address the lessons of WWI that are useful to consider today, and the consequences that led to the second World War.
World War I was an incredibly tough conflict, and that underscores the courage of the troops of all combatants. “Troops in the trenches lived in miserable conditions and survived with death all around them,” said Mr. Bradley, “but generally they did their duty when called upon by their commanders. The troops also displayed amazing courage when line after line of those who preceded them in a battle perished in great numbers. Then in battle after battle, survivors rose out of the trenches and attacked, knowing that they and many of their comrades would perish.” It’s a subject often immortalized, as below in an excerpt from “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” a sonnet by Wilfred Owen, one of the most well-known poets of that war.
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
Learn more about this first man-made catastrophe of the twentieth century in “World War I: The Changing Face of Warfare,” beginning September 17.