The angel of death has been abroad throughout the land.

This from Vaughan Williams cantata ‘Dona nobis pacem’ from 1936, when the fear of renewed war was becoming apparent…using phrases from the speech in Parliament of the radical M.P. John Bright pleading with the government of the time to arrange honest peace terms rather than continue with a war in the Crimea which would cost the lives of many on both sides.

In earlier phases of the cantata Williams uses poems of Walt Whitman… for example, ‘Reconciliation’…’ For my enemy is dead—a man divine as myself is dead; ‘

Here, in 2019, is another eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…though in the U.K. the commemmoration has been moved to the Sunday previous so as not to disturb daily life.

It should disturb daily life that we permit governments to send our friends, family and, increasingly, mercenaries, to war…to kill or be killed, to maim or be maimed ,whether physically or mentally, in anything other than the utmost need to protect our own people, our own culture.

Where are the six uncles that I would have known had they not perished in the Great War…their children who would have been my cousins?

Did their deaths secure peace?


The Versailles agreement brought renewed war inevitably in its wake.

As my father so often said

If the politicians want war let them get into the arena and fight it out.

The result…no more war

27 thoughts on “The angel of death has been abroad throughout the land.”

  1. As an old ‘Tom’ who has seen and done some of this shit (there is no other word) it really hacks me off to see and hear all the nasty, stupid, jingoistic, nationalistic crap that goes the rounds. There are even prats from the dis-UK using social media and thanking serving and ex-service personnel for ‘your service’ for god’s sake! They are even proud enough to brag about special forces in Syria quite unaware that they are there illegally and involved in war crimes. There is no bloody hope for peace or humanity.

  2. I agree with you Helen, it would be better if the Hawks went at each other somewhere and left the Doves to concentrate on a lasting peace. We have to stop getting involved in foreign wars unless we or our allies are at direct risk by which I do not mean protecting a very poor Government from the retribution of a cheated people.
    Our troops are in Syria illegally but they won’t know that so I do thank therm for their service and sacrifice.If we started holding politicians responsible for the messes they get us involved in, maybe they’d think twice.
    Huge Hugs

  3. Human nature being what it is these things will continue until the end.
    Which may be quite near…
    MacMillan, Churchill and Hitler had both served in the front line.
    Blair, Cameron and Boris could never do so.
    MacMillan and Churchill were less keen to send men to war, knowing the cost.
    Adolf was slightly mad of course.
    Those who have seen war are less keen on it, Atlee for instance supported having a ‘Bomb’ but only because the other had it. Sensible precautions as he understood human nature. He was at Gallipoli.
    Boris and Trump appear willing to take the Russian shilling, whatever the cost…

    1. As far as I can see the U.S. administration is intent on bringing on Armageddon any day now…
      Boris in the front line? Only when the goodies are being handed out…
      And the worst thing is that the shilling isn’t even hidden in a glass of beer.

    1. i watc.hed the ceremony at the Cenotaph on the box today…mother was marching there into her nineties and it hit me how much I miss her caustic remarks…on the marching style of the Roysl Navy…on the bowler hats of the Royal British Legion bigwigs…and the cackle and the cry of ‘creepers’ at the advent of the Chelsea Pensioners.
      Her army days were very special for her…a Guardsman friend said after her funeral that he was half expecting her to jump out of the box shouting ‘take one with you!’, as the training sergeant instructed the women of the ATS when an invasion was felt to be imminent.

    1. I will have to delve in the innards of WordPress and see if this template has that possibility.
      Luckily those who comment here are fairly robust characters, so I won;t have to look for a jazz hands plug in…

  4. I never knew my grandfather my own father never knew his father because if that wretched war . I’m sure Charles enlisted in the hope that he would make a difference to the world, but no. From his enlisting in 1914 to his untimely death 6 months later he made a difference to his beloved family. I cannot help but wonder how things would have been if he had stayed in his job, not profession. It does not bear thinking about.

    1. My mother’s parents met through the Great War…my father’s parents lost their other sons in it…
      It was part of living history for me as a child = the men in their invalid carrriages, the blind with white sticks still to be seen on the streets.

    1. Yes, once you get past face to face encounters it becomes too easy….
      We could learn from dogs, working out which is top dog and leaving things there…..which conjors up Trump and Putin circling each other and taking a crafty smiff at each other’s posterior regions……
      I think I had better stop there…

        1. We can be….I think often we are….but our fighting forces are no longer the servants of the state, there to preserve the liberty of the citizens, but state paid mercenaries in the interests of the oilmen.
          Shame on our governments who have reduced gallant members of the armed forces to this…

  5. Widows and orphans know the sadness of the day. Gratitude for service, though? We are turning young men and women into fodder.

    1. Our armed forces are not fighting to preserve and protect the way of life of their and our families….that we can understand and honour.
      They are being used as state paid mercenaries of the oil business – and we should rise up and prevent this.

  6. Indeed, we allow governments to declare wars and send thousands or even millions of people to their death, sometimes for a justified cause but more often not. My mother’s brother Stanley was a Spitfire pilot in WW2. One night he and his plane disappeared and he was never heard of again. I think my mother grieved till her death for her missing brother.

  7. Portly generals rock on their heels as they swill their brandy and puff their cigars, resplendent in their military uniforms, bums warmed by a roaring log fire.

    Better send in a few thousand more, the last lot weren’t up to much.

    If dulce et decorum est, then why aren’t the generals out there?

    Such a pointless waste of young lives for the glorification of their country, and plumping of the coffers of the gleeful armament manufacturers.

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