December 1915


David Childs


Christmas 1915 did not see the fraternisation of the troops on the Western Front as had happened in 1914 but December did see the start of the evacuation of Gallipoli: the first occasion when the Government acknowledged that continuing slaughter with no gain was a moral madness. The evacuation was a complete success. There were no casualties for the Turks were never aware of the withdrawal from the beaches. However, south of Baghdad, following their victory in the Battle of Ctesiphon, the Turks began a siege of the British Army which had retreated to Kut. The most significant event on the Western Front was the resignation of the lack lustre Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal French and his replacement by Douglas Haig. On a lighter note on Lake Tanganyika the delightfully named gunboats HMS Mini and Toutou captured the German gunboat Kingari, in a campaign that formed the background to the classic film, The African Queen.


Vera Brittan lost both her fiancé and her brother during the war, recording her experiences in her classic Testament of Youth. This poem, one of the most poignant accounts of personal loss, recalls the death through wounds of her fiancé, Roland Aubrey Leighton, on 23 December 1915.-


Perhaps someday the sun will shine again,
And I shall see that still the skies are blue,
And feel once more I do not live in vain,
Although bereft of You.

Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
Will make the sunny hours of spring seem gay,
And I shall find the white May-blossoms sweet,
Though You have passed away.

Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright,
And crimson roses once again be fair,
And autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
Although You are not there.

Perhaps someday I shall not shrink in pain
To see the passing of the dying year,
And listen to Christmas songs again,
Although You cannot hear.

But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.

©  Tisbury History Society
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