It was the first Great War, the war to end all wars. The fight against an evil militarism that had taken hold in Germany, so they said. This was to be a biblical battle of Good against Evil to be fought at the end of Time.
It began on 4 August 1914 and ended on 11 November 1918. After four years it was all over. Some 18 million were dead and 23 million wounded.
There have been many World War One tours by guides over the last four years. This is the last one and the last word, on the centenary of the Armistice, and it’s by Ed Glinert, Manchester’s most prolific guide, whose relatives fought on both sides.
Here are the many Manchester connections, examining the deepest and most memorable angles, including the tragedy of the Salford Pals, the Manchester Guardian’s pacificism, the Pankhursts’ split affiliations, and of course the sad demise of the Lancashire Regiment Lieutenant who wrote the most chilling War poetry.
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs.