This telegraph piece notes the memorial of the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. On the first day 20, 000 British and Empire men fell. By the time the battle was over the Empire lost almost as many men as the North did in the entire Civil War. On each day of the battle the British lost more than men than America has in both Afghanistan and Iraq since our counter offensive in those countries began. Prince Charles meets one of the few left from that war which so impressed itself upon, and darkened the European imagination.
World War I was the worst military catastrophe to strike the West since the fall of Constantinople, if not since the fall of Rome itself. Old Empires that had lasted hundreds if not thousands of years passed away and were replaced by darker powers. Romanovs and Hapsburgs gave way to, chaos and thence to Lenins and Hitlers.
The men who went to that war include, famously, writers such as, Hemingway, Sassoon and Brooke. Other men who fought and saw the trenches include Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, George S. Patton; and of course, Sgt. Alvin York and Manfred Von Richtofen, the Red Baron, both of Immortal Fame.
Finally, last but not least to me, Nonno JJV fought for the House of Savoy, King Victor Emmanuel III, against the ancient Hapsburgian foe of a united Italy. He lived, and three years after war's end left for America never to return, and dying 50 years after the last of the WW I artillery went silent.