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QGE

"Forgotten" Great War Platitudes

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QGE

Is the expression "Forgotten" the Great War's greatest platitude?

 

Educators must be rolling their eyes. All four of my children had to study the Great War at school and they are now all adults. The TV is choc-a-bloc with great war nonsense documentaries. Remembrance Sunday has become a media circus. Dimblebore used the term 'forgotten' no less than 14 times today. Uuugghh. .... and the wearing of a poppy has become a point of political debate in mainstream media. How anyone could describe the Great War as forgotten is beyond me. Roll on 12th Nov 2018 when it will all be over. I will hopefully be on the South Pole on 11/11/2018. 

 

I cringe when I see books and articles with "the real story of...." or "the untold story of ...." .It strikes me that "the forgotten story..." has usurped these expressions in Great War related literature. Lazy authors and journalists have finally worn out the word. It has now become meaningless.  One often finds on closer inspection the 'forgotten' subject has been well covered. There is a current resurgence in articles on minority groups who fought in the war, where the authors seem determined to position the story as a new discovery, ignoring the fact that most (all?) of these groups have detailed published histories. 

 

Other words that have been worn out:   "Hero" (Dimblebore score: 32). It seems to now be used where the word "soldier" used to be, with a few exceptions. One onolatory book describes a Donkey as being a hero. Really. The equus asinus asinus has an Irish name (Murphy); another allegedly 'forgotten' sub-group whose bibliography would probably collapse most bookshelves. 

 

I am about to watch Ireland  v South Africa (recorded) having failed to find or record Wales v Australia.  In the meantime I would be interested to discover if I am alone in my concerns about the "Forgotten". ...when does the narrative change?

 

MG

 

Edited by QGE

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Gareth Davies

I don't disagree with any of your points on the forgotten.  Even the Army jumped on to the bandwagon by publishing a volume entitled "The Forgotten Fronts".  Maybe it is rhyming slang.  

 

On the subject of heroes, and specifically heroes fighting in a forgotten battle in a forgotten front, on 31 Oct I heard a man called Dr Jonathan King (an Australian) say of the soldiers heroes of the 4th & 12th Australian Light Horse Regiments who had charged at Beersheba that "Every tpr on that ride should have got a Victoria Cross".  Of course they should have mate.  Of course they should have.  He clearly is a bit of a forgotten front.  

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TGM
Quote

One often finds on closer inspection the 'forgotten' subject has been well covered. 

 

Indeed, but then the over-/inappropriate use of the terms you are concerned about are not intended to hook you in so to speak but the previously disinterested or unknowing wider public.

 

Enjoy the game...

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Neil Mackenzie

I know what you mean but I think there are still aspects of the Great War that you could still describe as 'forgotten' (by the British public at least). Certain battle fronts such as Salonika, the role of men from other countries (excluding Australia and Canada at least) such as the Chinese Labour Corps, the successes of the French Army and the lessons we Brits learned from them.

 

However the Great War is a lot less forgotten than it was 40-50 years ago and that is surely a good thing.

 

Neil

 

 

 

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phil andrade
48 minutes ago, Gareth Davies said:

 He clearly is a bit of a forgotten front.  

 

A tour of the Artois battlefields has been marketed as such.

 

Talking of this, we must not forget Mademoiselle from Armentieres.

 

She knew how to promote the forgotten front.

 

Phil

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Gunner Bailey

Yes, hardly forgotten now.

 

It's "The Lost Generation" that I hate.

 

That certainly applies to Russia in WW2 but not the UK in WW1. Many Russian towns saw whole school years wiped out for men and almost as bad for women in some places.

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phil andrade

Lord Louis Mountbottom was also exasperated by hearing that phrase Forgotten Army .

 

You're not forgotten , he is supposed to have said.. nobody's bloody well heard of you ! .

 

Phil

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alantwo

As I write this Channel 4 have a documentary 'Britain's Forgotten Army', the story of the 140, 000 men of the Chinese Labour Corps.

 

Regards

Alan

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healdav
18 hours ago, phil andrade said:

Lord Louis Mountbottom was also exasperated by hearing that phrase Forgotten Army .

 

You're not forgotten , he is supposed to have said.. nobody's bloody well heard of you ! .

 

Phil

Not 'supposed', he did. It was a standard joke in his visits to the troops.

15 hours ago, alantwo said:

As I write this Channel 4 have a documentary 'Britain's Forgotten Army', the story of the 140, 000 men of the Chinese Labour Corps.

 

Regards

Alan

Hardly forgotten. They have their own cemetery, and Belgian TV did a documentary about 20 years ago, not only about the Chinese Labour Corps, but also about the numbers who settled in Belgium after the war, and whose descendants are still there.

Apparently, they opened the first Chinese restaurants in Belgium! and some of them are still in existence. Their descendants are well intermarried, of course, but they were still very happy to talk about their parents/grandparents and their part in the war, bringing out memorabilia of all sorts.

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NigelS
16 hours ago, alantwo said:

As I write this Channel 4 have a documentary 'Britain's Forgotten Army', the story of the 140, 000 men of the Chinese Labour Corps.

 

Regards

Alan

 

58 minutes ago, healdav said:

Not 'supposed', he did. It was a standard joke in his visits to the troops.

Hardly forgotten. They have their own cemetery, and Belgian TV did a documentary about 20 years ago, not only about the Chinese Labour Corps, but also about the numbers who settled in Belgium after the war, and whose descendants are still there.

Apparently, they opened the first Chinese restaurants in Belgium! and some of them are still in existence. Their descendants are well intermarried, of course, but they were still very happy to talk about their parents/grandparents and their part in the war, bringing out memorabilia of all sorts.

 

I'm afraid I watched this programme with increasing annoyance.  Yes, it is very sad that the service given  by the Chinese Labour Corps in the Great War is perhaps not getting the recognition it deserves today, but judging the treatment that they received back then by today's 'politically correct' standards - that's how it came across to me - is not helpful.  Although shots of headstones & cemeteries were shown, no mention was made of the fact  that some 2067 of it members  are officially commemorated by the CWGC on its roll of honour and through headstones and memorials etc.   Doubtless there will be the 'forgotten' that aren't (or at least until their details are discovered) included, but this is no different from any other section of the British Empire's Great War forces, and  I doubt very much that there were deliberate omissions made as an act of 'airbrushing'

 

NigelS

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NRP.HKP

I suppose you could put into the same context the thousands of native carriers (tenga-tenga) who served and died in East and Central Africa during the Great War.No memorials for them either.Or films.

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Wexflyer

Based on the thread title I expected this to be something quite different - a list of now forgotten platitudes used during the Great War. Expressions such as:

Jolly good show,

Spiffing time,

 etc, etc.

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phil andrade
5 hours ago, NRP.HKP said:

I suppose you could put into the same context the thousands of native carriers (tenga-tenga) who served and died in East and Central Africa during the Great War.No memorials for them either.Or films.

 

There is a memorial to the native carriers in the Seychelles.

 

A namesake of mine ( shared the same Portuguese surname ) is commemorated there.

 

You've got me thinking now....I'll investigate.

 

Phil

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Perth Digger

I thought the same, Wexflyer. 

 

Splendid was a very army word.

 

"Missing" is a word that often irritates me now, mainly because it is wrongly used, or, at least, used only in Fabian Ware's sense. Shell shock is another popular platitude, but at least there are some very good recent works that try to define it more carefully. Not that they will affect popular usage.

 

Mike

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Harper
On 13/11/2017 at 13:19, NigelS said:

 

 

I'm afraid I watched this programme with increasing annoyance.  Yes, it is very sad that the service given  by the Chinese Labour Corps in the Great War is perhaps not getting the recognition it deserves today, but judging the treatment that they received back then by today's 'politically correct' standards - that's how it came across to me - is not helpful.  Although shots of headstones & cemeteries were shown, no mention was made of the fact  that some 2067 of it members  are officially commemorated by the CWGC on its roll of honour and through headstones and memorials etc.   Doubtless there will be the 'forgotten' that aren't (or at least until their details are discovered) included, but this is no different from any other section of the British Empire's Great War forces, and  I doubt very much that there were deliberate omissions made as an act of 'airbrushing'

 

NigelS

There is also a recent podcast on the Chinese Labour Corp on the BBC History Magazine website:

http://www.historyextra.com/podcast/international-history/britains-chinese-army-first-world-war-forgotten-allied-forces

 

There seem to be at least 3 threads about the Chinese Labour Corps, so I'll copy this message on those other threads.

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Interested

Just read a book review: "Words and the First world War" by Julian Walker; I bet it is full of forgotten platitudes from WW1 but is apparently mostly slang words; it gives a few examples - scarper,  Blighty, cushy, dekko, etc etc.

Might put it on my Christmas list.

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Eastindia

And what about the Egyptians drafted into labour corps in their thousands of whom so far as I know countless were killed or died in service?. The promise to the Arabs that they would become free of foreign rule which, I believe, the Egyptians thought would be their reward for their own huge sacrifice was not honoured so far as they were concerned, and moves to secure an independent Egypt were suppressed, until Farouk was deposed.

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trajan

One bright light on the horizon! The GW is not exactly forgotten here - yet! My 11 years old is doing it as a reading project in his school, although as he is in the 'International set', he is not allowed to look at the Ottoman side of this... No, don't ask me why, too complicated to explain... Anyway, I did - for once - greatly enjoy helping him with his homework!

 

Trajan

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phil andrade
22 hours ago, Interested said:

Just read a book review: "Words and the First world War" by Julian Walker; I bet it is full of forgotten platitudes from WW1 but is apparently mostly slang words; it gives a few examples - scarper,  Blighty, cushy, dekko, etc etc.

Might put it on my Christmas list.

 

Forgive me for being a bit picky, but shouldn’t that “ scarper “ be scapa i.e. Scapa Flow = go ?

 

Phil

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John_Hartley
58 minutes ago, phil andrade said:

“ scarper “ be scapa i.e. Scapa Flow = go ?

Only if you reckon the ordinary punter who might write the word, would know how Scapa is pronounced.

 

In truth, I don't think I can recall hearing the word pronounced and have always assumed, as I'm a northerner, that it would be a " short hard a" as Scappa Flow, not a southern "long soft a" as  Scarper Flow.

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QGE

I suspect Scarper and Scapa both come from the vulgar Italian scappare which in turn comes from latin 'escappare'  - 'to flee' and is the origin of the English word "escape."

Edited by QGE

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voltaire60
1 hour ago, QGE said:

I suspect Scarper and Scapa both come from the vulgar Italian scappare which in turn comes from latin 'escappare'  - 'to flee' and is the origin of the English word "escape."

 

The name Scapa Flow comes from the Old Norse Skalpaflói, meaning 'bay of the long isthmus', which refers to the thin strip of land between Scapa Bay and the town of Kirkwall. Scapa Flow has been used as a harbour since Viking times, the nameSkalpaflói being given to it by the Vikings.

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Steven Broomfield
On 11/14/2017 at 05:52, Perth Digger said:

 

Splendid was a very army word.

 

 

I use it often: a work colleague once said I was the only person she'd ever heard who used the word. Splendid.

On 12/3/2017 at 17:22, Interested said:

Just read a book review: "Words and the First world War" by Julian Walker; I bet it is full of forgotten platitudes from WW1 but is apparently mostly slang words; it gives a few examples - scarper,  Blighty, cushy, dekko, etc etc.

Might put it on my Christmas list.

 

I saw the reviews in the grown-up papers, too. Looks interesting.

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Perth Digger

Showing my age here, but I still use the word "scarper", spelt that way and with pronounced with a long 'a'. But I'm originally from Bethnal Green so this will all be wrong.

 

The letters from COs to bereaved parents/wives are full of the word "splendid", normally in the phrase 'splendid work'.

 

Mike

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Ken Wayman

On a slightly different tack, the word that serially irritates me in respect of the Great War and its numerous battles is 'futile'. Any and every unsuccessful attack seems to have been 'futile', costly offensives were similarly 'futile'. I've even seen reference to the 'futile' war.

Since we all die sometime, isn't life itself 'futile'....

But the aspect I find most upsetting is the implied slight to the men who took part - thus a 'futile' death. That must hurt those left behind.

A happy start to the day!!

 

Ken

Edited by Ken Wayman

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