Sunday, 29 December 2013

Just how should we remember World War I?

The village of Ousby in Cumbria sits upon the school bus route which I took many times when I was living in the Eden Valley near Penrith. What I was unaware of was that in times past Ousby was one of the luckiest communities in England. You won't find a War Memorial in the village for those who perished in the 1914-1918 conflict. You might think 'my goodness, what a scandal how can they not care about their war dead?!' But that's just it - there are no war dead. For Ousby is one of only 53 'Thankful villages' in all Britain, those parishes that lost no lives in the First World War. 53. And that's it. They're all in England and Wales with none in Scotland. Further more only 13 of these thankful villages (or parishes) lost no lives in the Second World War either and Ousby isn't among them.

It goes to show the very scale of the casualty list from World War One. Nearly a million people from the UK died as a result of the conflict, the vast majority being soldiers and this accounted for 2% of the population. And next year the outbreak of this disastrous event, which 'lost a generation', will be 100 years ago. We should mark the events of World War One but not use them as an excuse to celebrate.