Tag Archives: world war 1

Baroness Sal Brinton writes…How Gallipoli marked one young life forever

2nd Lt "Mary" Coningham of 32 Squadron, The Somme, 1917Today marks one hundred years since Gallipoli and my brother and I will be at the Cenotaph to mark this special ANZAC day, as my grandfather, Arthur Coningham, a very young New Zealander, was there and survived. We never knew him because he died in an air accident in the Bermuda Triangle in 1948 but we know from family that his experience in the Dardenelles affected him greatly.

Arthur Coningham later went on to join the embryonic Royal Flying Corps (where he was known as Mary, thought to be a distortion of Maori), and became a fighter pilot. However, he nearly didn’t make it because of his early experiences as an ANZAC.

He was born in Australia in 1895, and after his parents’ notorious behaviour in a celebrated court case they moved to New Zealand where he grew up. His parents subsequently divorced, especially outrageous in the early 20th Century, and the whole family really suffered, with all the children being bullied and humiliated. His mother was a hairdresser, doing her best to keep herself and her three children. He went to Wellington College on a Junior Free Place, where he excelled at sports, but wasn’t at all academic. When he left, he went to work on a sheep farm as he had no idea of what he might do.

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Opinion: We shouldn’t talk about soldiers ‘giving’ their lives in WW1

ww1Much of the news recently has focused on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. Rightly so, too. It changed the course of history and approximately sixteen million people died during it.

But there is something that sits very uneasily with me about the way it has been covered. When discussing it, many will refer to how many people ‘gave their lives’ during the conflict. ‘Giving’ is a selfless deed, and it is one that is done voluntarily. One shouldn’t have to ‘give’ out of obligation, nor as a result of being misled. It is here that I have a problem with this phrase. Did those millions of people on both sides of the war really believe that the loss of their life was justified in the grander scheme of things? Did they, in their final moments, feel a sense of patriotic pride in having done something wonderful for their country? Or would they have cursed the futility of mass loss of life on such an unfathomable scale? It is difficult to say for sure, but we can all hazard our own guesses.

Posted in Op-eds | 40 Comments

Opinion: In every conflict, there is always more than one side to the story

Protests in UkraineIt is always tempting to view the world in black and white. When Good is pitted against Evil, who in their right minds would want Evil to succeed? We can all happily unite behind Good and therefore feel Good about that ourselves.

Sadly, the world isn’t like this. This may seem like an outrageously obvious statement, but it is not intended to be patronising. Reactions from various politicians to recent events have given the impression that many political conflicts are indeed black and white.

When the Arab Spring began over 3 …

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Opinion: A letter to Michael Gove

Dear Michael,

I hope this finds you well.

A confession.

Unlike Paxman, I’m a fan.

You’re an unusual Tory with unusual origins. And your passion to change education is laudable.

The 1960s Crosland reforms, implemented by your mentor Mrs Thatcher, were supposed to promote social mobility. The reality is mixed. Overall literacy and numeracy have improved. Higher education has become more accessible across class, gender and race.

But this has come at a cost. Some think general mediocrity is better than a few attaining excellence while the majority attain little. I think it’s still mediocrity. Employers lament school-leavers’ inadequate skills. Our performance in the Pisa education …

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