It was the poetry that came out of the First World War that first got me interested in that catastrophe. It spoke of a profound and absurd waste of life. That war was the first in which modern weaponry and in which mass destruction were implemented. To me, as I'm sure to others, it's the saddest of wars.
More recently, I've got interested in the Second World War. Perhaps because it was the war my parents' generation endured, or perhaps because its mechanization reduced its participants to data, I'd not felt it to be as aching as the First.
But my feeling has changed. Any war is bad news. In any war there's ridiculous suffering. There can be no such thing as a necessary war. To think that any of us has to have war as their life experience is to me horrendous...war does nothing but destroy humanity; its purpose opposes what we're really meant to be doing.
Reading John Verney's account ( Going to the Wars ) - he with such a light, humane, candid touch - I know now that being caught up in that war would have been ineffably painful. This post honours all who suffered in it. My excuse for posting it here is that, to me, gardening, as an act of constructiveness and peace, of continuity and well-being, challenges and resists futility.
For anyone interested, John Verney's obituary in The Independent is excellent. He is described there as a "painter, writer and illustrator," a man devoted to his wife and children, and to his friends.
Sir John Verney ( 30/09/1913 - 02/02/1993 ) wrote, in this, "one of the best memoirs of the Second World War."