The first day on the Somme – July 1, 1916

Somme-LaBoisselle_1st_July_1916_Header

FIRST DAY OF THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME

The 1st July 1916 was the opening day of the Anglo-French offensive that became known as the Battle of the Somme. It was the middle day of the middle year of the First World War and is principally remembered as the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. On the first day of the Somme 57,470 British soldiers became casualties of which 19,240 were either killed or died of their wounds. It has for many come to represent the futility and sacrifice of the First World War, with lines of infantry walking across No-Man’s-Land into the machine guns of the enemy.

The most terrible battle of the most momentous war in European history began a century ago today. As a pure coincidence, I am reading John Buchan’s Greenmantle, published itself in 1916. From Buchan’s biographical details at the start of the edition I have there is this:

During the First World War he worked as a war correspondent for The Times, before joining the British Army Intelligence Corps and writing speeches for Sir Douglas Haig. His experience of war left him vehemently opposed to armed conflict. He wrote many novels, poems, biographies, histories and works of social interest but is most famous for his Richard Hannay novels, The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle.

In its own way a story that has a modern veneer but you will see why the BBC began and then abandoned a dramatisation of the book in 2007 from this para from the summary of the book on the back cover of my edition of the novel.

The Germans with their Turkish allies are planning to stir up a revolt in the Muslim world that could leave Egypt, India and North Africa in disarray.

The EU was intended to bring such conflicts to an end. History, however, remains open ended as it will and must always be.

UPDATE: The Daily Mail commemorative gallery marking the day in England.Here is how the battle is described:

Synonymous for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of men, the Battle of the Somme was one of the most controversial conflicts of the First World War.

The battle took place North of the River Somme in France from July 1 to November 13, 1916.

On the first day alone British forces suffered casualties of 40,000 and deaths of 20,000, with 60 per cent of all of those killed being officers.

Designed to relieve pressure on French forces at Verdun, the Battle was the mastermind of General Douglas Haig and involved 750,000 British soldiers across 27 divisions.

By the end of the bloody and brutal battle Allied forces had managed to capture only six miles of land. The British suffered 429,000 casualties, the French suffered 195,000 and the Germans 650,000.

Prior to the battle the British bombarded German lines with 1.6 million shells in an effort to weaken their resolve, but the Germans were heavily fortified and many of the shells did not go off.

Haig, unaware of his bombardment’s failure, was so confident in his tactics that he ordered his men to walk across the battlefield. As a result many were tragically mowed down by machine gun fire as soon as they left their trench.

The general’s tactics remain controversial to this day with military historians, soldiers and biographers conflicted over whether his decisions were necessary or foolhardy.

If ever there was a war to end all wars, this was it. We now know no such war exists. Those who would live in peace must therefore always prepare for war.

What we have lost

Compare and contrast, all picked up from Andrew Bolt, which includes this quote from Terry McCrann:

Australia is really being asked to vote for an Abbott government or a Rudd+Gillard one. You might ostensibly be voting for Turnbull or Shorten, but you will be getting the policies of their predecessors.

First there is Tony Abbott who would not only have won the election hands down, but would have ended up with a mandate to do many of the tasks that need doing. First the truncated text and then Abbott being interviewed.

Both major parties are promising more spending, more taxes and more debt in this disgraceful election. Fresh from being trashed by Malcolm Turnbull twice in a week, Tony Abbott offers the most guarded criticism:

“This has been an election campaign where a lot of the issues have been touched on without really being developed,” he said. “Obviously there is a huge budget repair job that needs to be done. National security has played almost no part in this campaign, even border security has been just an intermittent visitor to the campaign. So I guess if those really big issues aren’t front and centre, less substantial stuff will be front and centre.”

And then there is this, which I suppose is intended to encourage people to vote for the Libs which just shows how lacking in insight he is.

There really is much to fear whichever way it goes. What is worse, that of the two, Malcolm is not as bright as Bill and far more to the left.

Who will save us from the experts?

There are two articles paired at Instapundit that really do capture the Brexit moment. The first is It’s Time for the Elites to Rise Up Against the Ignorant Masses which is exactly what the article is about and is offered without the slightest sense of irony or humility. Here is the para that captures it all:

The Republican Party, already rife with science-deniers and economic reality-deniers, has thrown itself into the embrace of a man who fabricates realities that ignorant people like to inhabit.

These are the experts: global warmists and Keynesians! Who would trust such expertise? Reading the comments at Instapundit shows the level of distrust with such people. Here are a couple:

It’s funny how they keep harping on Nigel Farage supposedly lying to the British voters in order to win their votes. The nerve of such people! Why, progressives and neofeudalists would never dare do such a thing!

Ted Kennedy, on the 1965 immigration: “The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs.”

Ted Kennedy, on the 1986 amnesty: “This amnesty will give citizenship to only 1.1 to 1.3 million illegal aliens. We will secure the borders henceforth. We will never again bring forward another amnesty bill like this.”

Yet suddenly Leftists are insisting on truth in advertising laws for politicians. If they want to roll back every left-wing lie of the last six decades they can gladly have a redo on Thursday’s vote.

And then there’s this:

Homogeneous societies are happier. They have much higher social trust and a good deal more willingness and less resentment in looking after their have-nots. Multi cultural societies rob people of a true sense of belonging. The lions share of what is good in life has nothing to do with money and economics. A nation is more than just a souless shopping mall packed with culturally atomized individuals. The elites are indifferent to the cultural destruction they have wrought in their blindered pursuit of a few more pieces of silver and a lot more centralized control. Globalization is a disaster of epic proportions. It can only end in tyranny.

All right. One more:

I *do* believe in reason, expertise, and the lessons of history. However, the “elite” are more wedded to their delusions and power than any of the above. Fer crissake, the people who claim to be “believers” in evolution are now pushing the idea that “male” and “female” are entirely learned! Their learning the “lessons of history” is to ignore the lesson of WWII — when lunatics promise to kill you *BELIEVE THEM*!

And expertise? At what? Fraud, extortion, ginning up hatred? Keeping their hands clean of the violence they incite? At laundering money for their elections through an “education” system that leaves those most in need of an education barely literate and trained to hate?

OK. Another, they are so addictive.

“Science deniers”? Which party thinks “male” and “female” are learned traits and surgically alterable? Which clings to a prediction of ever-rising temperatures despite more than a decade of no change? Which clings to a demonization of CO2 when there simply isn’t any more energy CO2 can “trap”?

There is expertise in how to fix a broken sewer pipe. There is similarly expertise in how to take out an appendix. But expert opinion on social, political and economic issues? I’m afraid that wherever self-interest plays a hand in the decisions of experts, their reliability is not to be trusted. Which is why a democratic process, where the rulers must seek the endorsement of the ruled, remains the only way a modern society should be run.

The Secret Service is no longer so secret

From the comments to the video which I happen to think is accurate:

Why would she be worried about what this guy got to say. He is only repeating lies about the Clinton’s that has been going around the right wing for years. It not going to change anyone minds but it will get a bunch of conservative to go out a spend their money on the same book just with a different cover.

That is, it’s an old story, untrue, and even if it were true is anyway irrelevant. How will it change anyone’s mind about her fitness for President? First there needs to be people on her side who are willing to believe any of this matters, and on her side there is hardly a one.

Voting strategies

I just thought I would open the question up on how to vote in the election on Saturday. Not at all straightforward, either in the House or the Senate. The only indispensable piece of information required is this list of Who Voted for Malcolm Turnbull. And while the first issue is whether to put the Libs candidate ahead of Labor’s in the House, there are many other questions after that. Should we go about punishing treachery and if so how? As a starter, one might consult John Stone’s Voting Guide.

And perhaps to help you decide for yourself, there is this survey you can fill in to work things out: Who Should I Vote For courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald.