Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

H.M. Tomlinson Describes a "World War", c.1914/15

Soldiers from New Zealand Seize German Samoa, 1914

Russians were hurling Kurds from the slopes of Mount Ararat. And at Basra, that port for which Sinbad had set sail, Sikhs had arrived from the Punjab, and Gurkhas from the Himalayas; and these men, moved by the new zeal which would free us from the tyranny of obsolete and ruinous dogmas, and led by young men from English public schools, marched to dislodge Ottomans who were entrenched in the Garden of Eden. The coconut groves of New Guinea were stormed by Australians. In those days, while steaming at sunset under the snows of the Andes, British ships were sunk by their foes; who, but little later, were sunk by British warships off the Falkland Islands. Merchant vessels and their cargoes foundered in the Bay of Bengal and off the Cape of Good Hope through the explosions of torpedoes. It might have been thought that Penang, that city of light and colour with its smell of spices, would have remained inviolate, if only because it was on the Strait of Malacca, yet a German cruiser appeared there one day, scattered its anchorage with smoking wreckage, and vanished again, leaving on the waters the bodies of a number of Japanese girls, which had floated out of a sunken Russian cruiser. . .It was already becoming clear for the first time to many onlookers that the earth was not two hemispheres as we had thought, but one simple and responsive ball, and that happenings on the shores of the Yellow Sea and elsewhere may cause disturbing noises even in Washington. [pp. 340–341]

From: All Our Yesterdays, H.M. Tomlinson; quoted in "The First World War as a Global War," Hew Strachan, First World War Studies, Vol 1. Number 1.

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