‘Great Insanity’ was victory not worth winning

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From: Coun Frank R McManus, Longfield Road, Todmorden.

YOU reported (Yorkshire Post, February 8) that the World War I Centenary Minister Helen Grant, after rightly rejecting “triumphant fanfares”, had added that it was “an absolutely vital victory”.

How can she say that? Not only was it but the first half of a continuing convulsion, but also it cost some 60,000 British soldiers the misery of living for decades in seclusion with head of eye wounds, too often with hideous destroyed faces, with matching horrors in several other nations’ armies – amounting to an evil worse than any that the Great Insanity (Vera Brittain’s term) sought to avert.

Bishop Platten of Wakefield has written that within the church are two noble traditions on war, namely pacifism and just-war doctrine.

Both were flouted a hundred years ago, and no remembrance is helpful unless it embodies the vital “Never Again” commitment. Britain in particular was gravely at fault in not responding to the then Pope Benedict XV’s peace initiative of 1916/17.

I take Vera Brittain’s above-quoted phrase from her biography of the South Riding novelist Winifred Holtby, Testament of Friendship, which contains that author’s account as a schoolgirl of 16 of fleeing in and from the German bombardment of Scarborough on December 16 1914. This, I feel, would include material of interest to your readers, especially those in the area affected.