“ Mud mud glorious mud,
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood,
So follow me follow me down, to the hollow,
And we will wallow in glorious mud,” sang Hector,
as he jumped into the muddy puddles, splashing Felix and Innis with filthy puddle mud as they waited by the curb, for the boy’s great grandfather to unlock the mini.
“So you like mud do you, I’m going to show you mud!” announced the old man, frowning at the children’s dirty clothes.
“Oh dear,” said Innis, her voice full of trepidation.
“I don’t like the sound of that.”
They all scampered into the car, followed by Holly the dog and Marmalade, Innis’s cat from next door.
“Push 1914 one of you,” ordered Gramps, the name the children called the old man.
“Og og inim og they chanted. The familiar swishing and flashing lights didn’t last too long; yet everything was gloomy , it was almost night. and they began to feel cold.
The whicker basket was opened and thick coats and sturdy boots were found, together with strange face masks, each one, resembling out of space mad elephants, sporting breathing trunks. “What are these for?” enquired Innis as she tried hers on.
“Gas masks,” Gramps replied. “ Luckily we won’t need them, it seems the soldiers have gone as has the mustard gas, let’s go,” said the old man.
Out they all stepped into a foot of thick mud, surrounded on all sides, walls of earth, lining these open passages were sandbags piled high to stop the sodden earth from caving in.
“I told you I would find mud for you, can you imagine thousands of soldiers, on both sides of the war, living for months on end in trenches of mud. Trench warfare lasted throughout the war of four years.”
“Oh look there is a canary fallen from his perch, must be dead,” exclaimed Felix. “ what is a caged bird doing here?”
“I know” answered Hector, “they were used to detect gas, they were also used down the coal mines they would be the first to feel the effects of gas.”
“ We must save the poor little bird,” cried Innis.
Gramps opened the cage and retrieved the cannery he stepped back into Mini, he gently stroked the birds chest and in no time the bird was chirping. The mini had worked its magic.
“How wonderful, you have brought him back to life, can we keep him” asked Innis.”I can’t think of a reason not to” replied Gramps.
It was grey and cold they could just see over the top of the trench. There standing over them stood very quietly a rather damp donkey. Beyond him a sea of desolation, as far as they could see, grey mud and broken black trees.
“Don’t ask me if we can take him too,” smiled Gramps,” someone will run back and collect him, he is a vital part of the army as he and other donkeys, mules horses even elephants and camels were used to bring equipment to the front, for the fighting soldiers. It was now dark, but a strange light could be seen from a glass jar stuck inside the wall between the sand bags. “ glow worms, look at them, giving light so the men could read and write their letters home.”informed the old man.
“ Has anyone seen Holly and Marmalade, they seem to have gone, “ said Felix, who began calling them.
“They are probably chasing rats, did you know dogs and cats also were part of the army, very important as they kept the rats at bay.” announced Gramps. “The trenches were full of these vermin.”
“I’m cold and hungry,”said Felix,” “me too,” said Innis.
“Let’s have a picnic and eat what the soldiers eat, it seems they have left some tins for us,” exclaimed Gramps, who started opening them, “ looks like corned beef and spam, not very exciting, and a couple of tins of plumb and apple jam. Oh look, here are some biscuits only now damp and green. The soldiers were hungry and would eat these; perhaps you would prefer to have supper at home.”
“Why was there a 1914 -18 world war asked Hector.”
“That question is still being debated to this day. Hungary- Austria declared war on Serbia.
It was a foolish and unnecessary war, as most are, if you go into the car you will see a note on the side; Mini Memo Nerdy Notes you can read up about it.” said their great grandfather.
Then, Germany declared war on France and invaded Belgium.
“ It all kicked off with the murder of Archduke Ferdinand of the Austria-Hungary Empire, this empire of many squabbling countries, although an empire, it was hardly united, Bosnia wanted its independence away from the dominance of The Empire and Germany. As I said it all started when the heir to the throne and his wife Sofia who was expecting a baby were murdered, shot. The murderer
was a Bosnian .
Through history nations have fought for land and weapons, I think nations are like quibbling children, but on a terrible scale.
Strange to think only a few years ago, that whole region of The Balkan’s, was called Yugoslavia.
“Listen” cried Felix I can hear, I think an aeroplane.”
“Flatten yourselves against the wall, it’s a German plane. Mustn’t see us as the soldiers may come back.” The look out plane disappeared not having spotted them.
Later, light aircraft on both sides were armed with guns.”
“Oh dear,” cried Hector “my feet are sinking and so am I.”
Sure enough the boy’s body was slowly and surely disappearing into the thick mud. They all grabbed his arms and pulled him out minus his boots. Hector’s legs were as black as coal.
“I have gangrene, I don’t want my legs cut off!” cried the shocked boy.
“ You haven’t been exposed to cold and damp for long enough, it’s just mud.” reassured the old man.
“Please let’s leave this dismal place and see something beautiful,” pleaded Innis.
“Ok,” replied Gramps, “let’s go.” They quickly piled into the car.
He gently touched the gold button, they moved slightly, the history panel displayed 1945.
It was a warm late Spring day they had landed in a sea of scarlet flowers, poppies.
“ We are in the middle of the fields of Flanders, Belgium, after the war, these flowers grew, and ever after we remember the fallen soldiers with each poppy.The poppy a symbol of remembrance.” Gramps informed them
“They are copied and sold, the money going to charity to help those injured in the armed forces, isn’t that right?”
asked Innis. Gramps nodded.
“Let’s go forward in time, to 2014.”
In a moment they were back in London looking at the amazing display of ceramic poppies in the moat of The Tower of London. They were all mesmerised at the river of red before them.
“ I have written a poem about this display and Hector has just painted a picture of the poppies of Flanders.”
“That was quick Mini magic ” murmured Felix.
“How wonderful this display is exclaimed Innis, “ they are beautiful I will never forget this incredible sight. ” “ neither will I” said Hector, Felix nodded in agreement.
“ If only we would learn from history, we ignore what has happened in the past at our peril, said Gramps with passion. “ let’s go.”
“Go go mini go” they all chanted; and off they went back home to the future and supper.
Countries at war. Great Britain France Italy Romania USA Russia Japan
Against Germany, Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria.
The zigzagging trenches on both sides stretched from The North Sea through Belgium and France.
Tanks came into the War in 1916
A British soldier would spend eight days on the front line, in the trench, four in the reserve line, then four days away on the rest line, for a rest.
47% of a soldiers time as a soldier would be spent in the trenches.
Amputations of feet and legs were carried out due to gangrene: fleas, and body lice, were the norm. Drinking contaminated water caused sever gastric conditions. Mustard gas used by the enemy caused sever burns and blindness. One in ten men died in the trenches.
After the war, Europe was divided up between the allies.
In 1991, the Soviet Union broke up, following a referendum in The Ukraine 90% wanted independence from Russia. The countries of The Balkan’s where the war began, gained their own independence from the Soviet Block.
1914-1918 The Great War, in memory
A great sea of crimson, swirls around ancient walls.
Erect as a soldier that each one depicts.
Proud and beautiful as that young soul
Who died to save others, a hundred years ago.
Over eight hundred and eighty eight thousand,
Lovingly crafted and placed in the tower’s moat.
A tribute to the memory, of mistaken young men,
Who thought the Great War, would end all wars.
Like the aspirations, of our lost youth that once flourished;
These blood red blooms were systematically removed;
Each one sold, giving hope, to unfortunate others,
Who in conflict, through generations, are brothers.
End of The War 11 am, the 11th of the eleventh month November 1918
Nearly one million British and Empire servicemen were killed between 1914 and 1918.