The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

In Remembrance of Corporal Willy McHardy

Coen van Wyk

Posted on November 10, 2018 14:19

0 user

On Remembrance Day I want to remember my great uncle who rests close to his enemies, victims of a forgotten battle, a forgotten war. A war that looks futile today, when politicians once again seem bent on a nationalistic frenzy such as had led to two World Wars.

A respected athlete, Willy “Mac” McHardy abandoned a budding career with the East Rand Proprietary Mines in South Africa to answer the call to arms. Sent with the 4th South African Horse to fight the German forces in Tanganjika, he died on 25 October 1916 during the battle for Iringa, an important transport hub in the erstwhile German East Africa.

An end

He was probably shot by an Askari, one of the German Colonial troops, who fought determinedly for a colony that would win independence fifty years later, and for whom no cemetery has been kept. Or by one of the German soldiers, some of whom now lie in the same tranquil cemetery.

German memorial at iringa Caligula/Flickr

Did he, at his death, cry out for his father, an immigrant from Scotland, a journalist who had been interned by the British with his family during the Anglo-Boer war for refusing to reveal his sources? Did he cry out for his mother or three sisters who adored him? Or for the unknown girl who wrote to his mother to ask for her ring back? 

His death looks so futile now, fifty years after the independence of Tanzania. As futile as that of the 70 000 whose names are enshrined at Thiepval, but whose remains have never been found. The War to End All Wars cost 40 million lives,  and set the scene for the Second World War, another war to assuage the spirit of nationalism, to satisfy short-sighted political agendas.

Let us remember Kaizer Wilhelm who wanted “a place in the sun” for Germany, and his cousin, Tsar Nicolas II who refused to stop Russian mobilisation. General Haig who, despite the massacre of the Battle of the Somme, insisted on doing the same, only bigger. Gabriele d'Annunzio, Kitchener, Churchill, and many others who postured, fomented nationalists, who urged young men to enlist.


 
There has been no European wars since the European Union project has exchanged death, destruction and economic disaster for fifty years of prosperity and cooperation. Perhaps these deaths laid some foundation for the present peace.
 
Let us honour those who answered the call to serve. But let us examine with care the motives of those who issue the call to service. Was the British Empire worth dying for? Was Apartheid? Is Saudi domination of Yemen worth sending people to their deaths? Were the results of the wars in Iraq worth the lives lost? Vietnam?

What would they have given, had they lived? War Graves Commission


At the setting of the sun, let us remember. Let us also remember those politicians who will make solemn speeches extolling the sacrifices made, while planning to break down the stability that has brought peace, and to sacrifice more lives for equally frivolous causes.

 

Coen van Wyk

Posted on November 10, 2018 14:19

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Source: Yahoo Sports
2

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will request permission from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, for...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest