Battle of Verdun World War I 755,000–976,000 1916
Battle of Asiago World War I 250,000 1916
Brusilov Offensive World War I 1,600,000 1916
Battle of the Somme World War I 1,120,000–1,215,000 1916
When the figures roll by your eyes, it is indeed difficult for people who have never experienced true fear or exposure to terror or war; to comprehend the nature of the facts as reported. The numbers given above are casualty lists, for both Allied and German sides, of a random selection of battles and offensives fought to a bloody stalemate during 1916. Apart from the Luftwaffe’s Blitz; along with the murderous attentions of the IRA, mainly within the Province of Northern Ireland but with some deadly incursions on to the mainland such as Manchester and the Hyde Park bombings, totalling some 3,000 over a ten-year period: the only truly successful recent enemy activity against Britain was from the muslim murderers who blasted their way to their idea of glory with the death of 52 tube and bus passengers on the 7th July 2005.
When the guns and howitzers finally fell silent in November 1918, and when the Nation took stock of its losses, the figures stood at 660,000 dead; with many, many, thousands of wounded. The scale, the sheer magnitude of the dead, which hit the cities, towns, villages down to the smallest hamlet, with their sons and husbands never coming home, forced the Government into two actions: firstly the planning and implementation of a single National Memorial, peopled by the corpse of the Unknown Soldier; and then the building of countless memorials throughout the land, where the names of those sacrificed by a bunch of crazed politicians who signed their respective nations up to interlinked treaties without any thought to the future were engraved, to last as a symbol of the awesome sacrifice laid down in the dust, mud and blood of a thousand futile battles.
These British War memorials, with the family names, some of which stretch back into the shades of our history have been the focus of countless ceremonies, of music both sad and martial; are as pages of our history: with the men and boys who left off their civilian pursuits, raised their rifles and bayonets, strapped on their webbing, and marched towards the sound of the gunfire. The names which were added after 1945 were remarkably similar to the lists chiselled in 1920, needing only a smaller stretch of granite or marble, for the numbers were indeed smaller. The Allies are remembered in places such as the American Cemetery near Duxford in Cambridgeshire; but all these places, from the smallest village memorial to the majesty of the Cenotaph, are but repositories of the bravery and sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of British and Allied servicemen and women who were simply doing their duty.
Which is why I believe that Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc of the reconstituted and severely-dessicated Top Gear team ought to be prosecuted in the same manner as Charlie Gilmour was, as their actions showed that they neither knew nor cared that the Cenotaph; focus of a Nation’s memories, along with the Memorial to the Women of WW2, were only yards away from their stupid antics with a screaming souped-up sports car!