Tag Archives: World War II

European Overpasses


Good morning Everyone!

Belgian Countryside

Belgian Countryside

One hundred years ago, Europe was enjoying one of the most splendid summers it had ever seen. None of the countries then in Europe could have imagined that in less than four months, they would be involved in the bloodiest slaughter of men ever up until that time, the First World War. Of course, since no-one gave these countries a memo in advance about World War II, at the time they called the war “The Great World War” or “The War to End All Wars.” The Great War began with Germany invading neutral Belgium in order to reach France under what was called the Schlieffen Plan. Because tiny Belgium had the gall to resist this infringement on its sovereignty (and even to hold back the German army for a small period of time), Germany exacted a heavy price from it both during the battle for and the occupation of Belgium. Another country, Poland – which did not then exist, having been apportioned between the Powers That Be – became the main land over which the Eastern Front of the Great War was fought. It too suffered terribly during the war.

Schlieffen Plan

Schlieffen Plan
(Public Domain)

On September 1, 1939, a scant 20 to 21 years after the end of the Great World War, World War II began with Hitler’s Germany’s unprovoked invasion of Poland.  Once again, German occupation caused Poland and its citizens great suffering. On May 10, 1940, tiny Belgium, which in 1936 had officially declared itself neutral in the event of a second general European war, was again overrun by Germany. It was forced to surrender in 18 days. As before, it suffered great loss of life and economic prosperity, and had hundreds of thousands of its citizens drafted into forced labor in Germany.

Polish Cavalry Fighting the Battle of Bzura in World War II (Public Domain)

Polish Cavalry Fighting the Battle of Bzura in World War II (Public Domain)

Now Russia under Putin has started to ease its toe into the waters of expansionism and radical nationalism, starting with Ukraine and possibly Georgia (remember the argument over natural gas/oil no one showed up for?). If I were Poland and Belgium, I’d hire every road builder in the United States and Europe and build a huge overpass across the length of my country suitable for armies to travel over without harming the country below. If the third general war ever breaks out, and against all probability it stays conventional, that’s their best bet for minimal harm.

Overpass

Overpass
by chuyu@123rf.com

And on that uncharacteristic note, I still hope that each of you have a good day!

Nancy

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Bibliophilic Friday: R. F. Delderfield’s To Serve Them All My Days


Good morning Everyone!

R.F. Delderfield To Serve Them All My Days

It’s 1918, and on the Western Front in Europe, millions of men are engaged in life and death struggles in the most brutal of conditions for only inches of territory.  But in the uplands of England, an elderly station master gently awakens a solitary soldier as his train pulls into the station.

With that, you have the beginning of R. F. Delderfield’s To Serve Them All My Days, an intimate fictional portrait of the inter-war career of one David Powlett-Jones, a Welsh miner’s son who obtains a position teaching history at a private school in England named “Bamfylde” after he was wounded on the front during World War I.

This book is one of my all-time favorites, a book that I have literally “read to pieces.”  The first version I owned was a paperback, which these days is growing harder and harder to hold together because I have read it so much.  I bought it in Kindle format a couple of years ago, which I suspect has greatly increased the paperback version’s longevity.

The fascination in the book lies in many different aspects.  First, there is David Powlett-Jones himself,  intense, likable, intelligent and dedicated, his growing family  and the growth he experiences throughout the book through cycles of tragedy and healing.  Second, there are the boys at the school and their relationship with David Powlett-Jones.  Who can’t love a book with characters such as Winterbourne, the millionaire’s son who paints water colors and has his own private campground on the moor to escape to when things get to be too much or Chad Boyer, who introduces himself to David in their  first class together with a fake epileptic fit.  Third, the other teachers in the school are characters in their own rights, including the headmaster, Algy Herries, who has built the life up on the moor into a vibrant world of its own, irascible Howarth, amiable and erudite Barnaby and a French master with the carefully hidden first name of “Aloysius” to name just a few.  Finally, there is the story itself, an intimate history of a man that also provides a panoramic view of the times he lived in.

One of the thrills of reading is the way it can carry you into other times, places and minds.  To Serve Them All My Days does so effortlessly, providing you with an entertaining, satisfying story that leaves you, at the end, with new friends that live in on in your imagination long after the pages are closed.

Try it sometime!  You’ll like it.

Have a great weekend!

Nancy

P.S.  If you do read the book, I’d love to hear from you to learn what you thought about it!