WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY

July 1918

TISBURY AND THE GREAT WAR

David Childs

July was the month in which the tide finally turned. The Marne Offensive (15 July - 5 August 1918) became the last German advance of the war. It was intended as a diversionary attack either side of Reims to cross the river Marne and draw the Allied reserves away from Flanders, where Ludendorff was planning to make another attack to break through the Allied line once and for all. The advance east of Reims was blocked by the French defence on the first day. The attack west of Reims did succeed in crossing the Marne river but, on 18 July, an Allied counter-attack, comprising French, British, American and Italian troops, pushed the German forces back and this would be their direction of travel for the final hundred days.
Further east, on 16 July, the Czar and his family were murdered and another dictatorship that would last some seventy years came into being.

We will remember them

June and July's casualty lists contained no Tisbury names. But the war had not finished with the village: as it drew towards its conclusion five more lads would lay down their lives.

POEM FOR JULY

In July Wilfred Owen, who had but a short time left to live, wrote what I believe to be the finest of his war poems and, thus, one of the most moving of all such poetry. It is a skilful sonnet not least because it runs for the traditional fourteen lines and then has a devastating codicil attached to it.

The Parable of the Old Men and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

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