By Rob Morgan
I’m currently preparing for our annual week’s holiday in France, Brittany this time, the eastern bit, where Patton’s army broke out in 1944. I will, of course, take my camera. Old fashioned, I still pack one and don’t rely on the technology of the portable telephone. If you visit a site and ask permission to take a real photograph, for a purpose, it works better than snapping away like some selfie freak. You learn more too.
Anyway, at the moment I’m completing a review of Anthony Clayton’s “Paths of Glory,” the comprehensive history in English of the French armies in the Great War. For that very purpose, I took this photograph of a war memorial near Gurlesquin two years ago. Every French and Breton village and town has a war memorial like this, but not all are topped with the figure of a poilu. Some have hundreds of names, often a whole family of men and boys, dead at Verdun or the Marne. It’s a holiday photo, of course, if poignant and sad. Incidentally, there are just as many memorials across the United Kingdom, and there’s a standard pub quiz question which asks what a “Thankful Village” is. Simple answer: It’s one from which no World War I soldier was killed. In the whole of my small country, there are only three “Thankful Villages,” and only 50 in the whole Kingdom.
Now, what I’d like to see in this little electronic newsletter is more photographs, things which others encounter, but I don’t. I’ve got huge wants lists of military hardware and sites I’ll never visit but would love to see someone write about and provide a couple of photos of. The U.S. battleship Texas is one, and the huge, late medieval bombards strung out along the Dardanelles and Bosporus. Or the splendid collection of Burgundy’s captured guns and ordnance in Swiss museums. Has anyone ever visited the Aberdeen artillery park in the USA? Or managed to take some photos of a c1700s artillery crew in action? Everyone who’s a wargamer or military enthusiast takes photos, why doesn’t everyone share them?