By November 11, 1918, the First World War had been raging for over four years. Germany’s militarism had pulled Britain into a European cataclysm that tore the heart out of European civilisation which had reached its apogee at the turn of the 20th century as described in Margaret Macmillan’s The War that Ended Peace. Four years was all it took to ravage British society from top to bottom. Nearly a million dead, the uncounted wounded, in mind and in body.

 

The toll on all levels of society was immense. Through the ‘pals’ volunteer battalions, the working classes had been hard hit. Entire streets were killed. The middle classes, who had provided many of the more junior officers, were also ravaged; the life expectancy of a 2nd Lieutenant on the Western Front was measured in weeks. Those in the ruling and gentry classes arguably felt the continuing, aching absence of those gone from this world in a different fashion. An entire class, an entire social structure that presumed to rule had the heart torn out of it in bloody Flanders fields. It never fully recovered, neither its moral or civil authority. 

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