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those, from Burpham and Jacobs Well who gave their lives in the 1914-1918 war

‘Burpham Will Remember Them’

In the early 1900s Burpham was in the Parish of Worplesdon and together with Jacob’s Well was essentially one large, scattered, community.

‘The War to End All Wars’ - Part 1: The Tensions in Europe

On July 28th 1914 the continent of Europe was at peace, though riven with tensions between the great powers (Germany, Russia, France, Austria-Hungary and Britain). That Sunday morning, however, a sniper, probably a Serbian activist, shot and killed the Archduke Ferdinand of Bosnia-Herzegovina outside Sarajevo railway station.

For a month Europe held its breath as diplomats and politicians from the major nations went into crisis mode. Those involved mostly knew each other - in fact, several were related. Kaiser Wilhehn II of Germany, after all, was a grandson of Queen Victoria! Yet long-standing feuds in the Balkans, fierce  nationalism, new 'Ententes' between some of the powers, swollen arsenals of weapons and - perhaps most of all - fear of one another paralysed their approach. July passed, and with it the hope of peace.

No one knew, of course, what dark and appalling forces they were about to unleash, but on August 4th the most terrible war of European history erupted.

Not surprisingly it has become known simply as the 'Great War'. By the time it ended four years later it had involved 65 million troops, brought about the deaths of twenty million soldiers and civilians, and injured another 21 million people. It's a truism to say that it changed history, but a glance at any war memorial in Britain is a constant reminder of its cruel cost in human terms.

Many villages lost almost all their young men. Families were decimated, children lost fathers, women lost their boy friends. Those who lived through it - my parents' generation - would never forget its consequences.

Throughout this year the story of that dreadful conflict will be re-told as we mark the centenary of its outbreak. It's surely pointless, so long after the event, to attempt to apportion blame.

Thoughts of military conflict between the nation-states involved seem remote and ridiculous today. Yet whatever its immediate trigger, that War, and its strange child, the Second World War, have shaped the modern world.

It must all seem a long while ago now to schoolchildren studying it as history, but for many of us older people it was a conflict that involved our parents or grandparents, and changed their lives for ever.

My father enlisted in 1914. He and millions like him had been told they were fighting 'the war to end all wars'. Sadly, it wasn't.

David Winter


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