Both my future grandfathers-to-be ran with the throng and were all too soon, unbeknown to each other, fighting for their lives in France. They were typical cannon fodder of the day, poorly educated patriots who knew little or nothing of the world outside their local communities, knew only that when Your Country Needs You! you must do your bit. One was a slate quarrier from Snowdonia in Wales and the other a coal miner from Tyneside in England.
The two young men's destinies were decided in the trenches at the Battle of the Somme. Somehow they both survived. One was sent home with an arthritic condition known as trench knee and the other with an advanced case of wet gangrene.
The Somme action was opened on 1st July 1916 by the noble Douglas 1st Earl Haig. It was battle in which 600,000 Allies and 650,000 Germans were killed, and so I ask 'Why?'. Why, for instance did Haig do it? What possessed the man to send millions of soldiers over the top and 600,000 to certain death. At Passchendaele the noble Lord took more unbelievable losses; there he sent another 245,000 Allies to their certain deaths. Mankind has all too often a short and blinkered memory. These days Douglas 1st Earl Haig is remembered fondly as the founder of the British Legion.
Fortunately for me, and for them, the names of my future grandfathers-to-be did not appear on those endless lists, those lists of the names and numbers of the 1,250,000 young men who were forced to slaughter each other at the Somme or the 10,000,000 young men whose lives were cut short because of this war to end all wars.
Another who survived the war was a young man named Adolf Hitler. He was a messenger who ran backwards and forwards with coded messages sent from those at the back giving the orders to those at the front carrying them out. He was excited by what he had seen. He won a medal. The Iron Cross was pinned to his proud pseudo-Teutonic chest.
Adolf Hitler, did not know it yet, but he would do better. In his war it wouldn't be a question of a mere 10,000,000 perished. It would be six times this number. The figures would become quite sensless; beyond anyone's imagining. And in the 60,000,000 there would be a hidden figure. A figure of 6,000,000. In Hitler's war there would be two wars. One would be against the Allies and another would be against the Jews.