The final casualty

Today is the one hundredth anniversary of the end of fighting in the First World War.

A few miles from my family home in south Wales is a small village with the seemingly unpronounceable name of Kilgwrrwg. Just outside the village is a tiny church. You can’t reach it by road, but have to brave the sheep and molehills and trudge several hundred yards through a typically wet and muddy Welsh field to get there. When you do, you find a little piece of British history. For outside the church is the grave of Able Seaman Richard Morgan, who died 100 years ago today on the morning of 11 November 1918.


We know little of Richard Morgan, other than that he was a woodcutter who volunteered for service in 1916. No photograph of him survives. He drowned after the small boat he was on capsized. It is believed that he was the last British serviceman to die prior to the armistice which brought fighting in the First World War to an end. He was, therefore, the final casualty in what most now believe was an utterly futile war. So, if you’re ever in the region, perhaps consider taking a short hike across the fields to Kilgwrrwg church, pay homage to Richard Morgan, and contemplate the folly of man.

Kilgwrrwg church



11 thoughts on “The final casualty”

  1. “…and contemplate the folly of man”

    Meh. This is, perhaps, a category mistake. I believe societies should be viewed as a life form, with its own evolution and patterns of behavior, independent from its elementary parts (men) with all their follies and their wisdom. Empires tend to expand, and therefore, their environment being limited to this small planet, they tend to fight other empires.


  2. For me and for most of other Russians this day is not important – it simply fails to register in our common national conscience, even despite numerous attempts and ceaseless efforts to “raise the awareness” of the dark masses, about how it was jolly super plus good for us, to pay with our blood for the interests of the “allies”. Besides – for us nothing was over, and wouldn’t be till at least 1921.

    In the West it’s A Big Deal:

    Pathos reeking speeches and op-eds by politicians and intellectuals that appeared for the last week, an appropriate spin and biases aligning in accordance to ones political views – they are not important. President of France Macron made me smile today, issuing a warning against the “demons of nationalism”, as if the War had been waged against them.

    If he really believes in that, then he’s an idiot. For the true winner of the Great War was the Nationalism, feasting on the carcasses of several empires. American’s constant harping about the right of the nations on the self-determination (bennies for the nations with significant diaspora lobbies in the US) made the idea handshakable.
    ^Nationalism was okay-ish not only for the Entente. SUGS!

    The refusal of the triumphant victors to recognize the other side of the developed nationalism in their own countries, namely the anti-colonialism, exacerbated it greatly, speedruning the maturing of the national conciseness among their colonial subjects. Finally, both pillars of the “Western Democracies”, the UK and France, were simultaneously enormously debt ridden and dispirited, while trying to forge a new international world order “for the good guys only” – a “values based system”, that, therefore, tolerated numerous limitrophe states run by rabid, yet ridiculously petty nationalists.

    Let us mourn something else worth mourning, namely – the Razzle Dazzle camo pattern, that served with destinction in the WWI only to be killed by the radar years later.

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  3. I was born in Flanders. So Flanders’ fields are home, where I used to ride my bike to visit relatives 15-20 km away and would pass numerous British, Canadian and German cemeteries. We would go by some of them, sometimes, because the peaceful nature and the (rare) pieces of nature (the Polygon ‘woods’, and then the huge area in Passendale) would mean they would be like a park for us to visit.
    Lyttenburg, I used to visit them also with Russian friends. And invariably, they would be amazed at the folly of war in general, at the hypocrisy of shouting out loud ‘no more war’ or ‘never again’ on the cemeteries, (shouting it out by the monuments and by the money put into the upkeep of these hundreds of cemeteries) yet be witness to yet another empire-like war being fought because ‘their values’ were better than those ‘other ones’.
    I cringe at the red poppy being used as another bumper sticker to ‘support our troops’. Because when one studies the origins of WW1, the process, and the eventual end with its ludicrous Versailles treaty, it is easier to see the seeds of the next war than to see the true understanding that peace should be the overaching principle, that war kills and empoverishes more people than any diplomacy ever did. I understand those who came up with the white poppy years ago. Because I fear that 100 years on, we are much, much further from peace and much close to war addiction than at that time.


  4. Futile it was, but it was also the most colossally stupid war in human history. Stupid in that it destroyed the four major monarchies who waged it, marked the beginning of the end of the British Empire, fractured France psychologically so badly that when the Germans came-a-knocking again 20 years later it utterly collapsed, and set Germany and Italy on the road to fascism, all the while laying the seeds for the greater conflict to come.

    As for the U.S., the damage was more insidious. Though the American people once again turned against “foreign entanglements” in its wake, the Wilsonian notion of “liberal interventionism” became fashionable among our elite classes and would eventually become a big justification for many of American most heinous and destructive mass war crimes, from Korea and Vietnam down through the Gulf and Iraq Wars. Taking the long view, the seeds for the eventual destruction of the American Empire were, like the others, planted during that time.


  5. Macron what an absolute clown.

    He was talking about the need for a European army on the eve of this remembrance; showing that elites like him remember nothing and learn nothing.


  6. on a humourous note – old but good – world war one as a bar fight

    Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of a pub when Serbia bumps into Austria and spills Austria’s pint. Austria demands Serbia buy it a complete new suit because there are splashes on its trouser leg. Germany expresses its support for Austria’s point of view. Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit.

    Serbia points out that it can’t afford a whole suit, but offers to pay for the cleaning of Austria’s trousers. Russia and Serbia look at Austria. Austria asks Serbia who it’s looking at. Russia suggests that Austria should leave its little brother alone. Austria inquires as to whose army will assist Russia in compelling it to do so. Germany appeals to Britain that France has been looking at it, and that this is sufficiently out of order that Britain should not intervene. Britain replies that France can look at who it wants to, that Britain is looking at Germany too, and what is Germany going to do about it?

    Germany tells Russia to stop looking at Austria, or Germany will render Russia incapable of such action. Britain and France ask Germany whether it’s looking at Belgium. Turkey and Germany go off into a corner and whisper.

    When they come back, Turkey makes a show of not looking at anyone. Germany rolls up its sleeves, looks at France, and punches Belgium. France and Britain punch Germany. Austria punches Russia. Germany punches Britain and France with one hand and Russia with the other. Russia throws a punch at Germany, but misses and nearly falls over. Japan calls over from the other side of the room that it’s on Britain’s side, but stays there. Italy surprises everyone by punching Austria.

    Australia punches Turkey, and gets punched back. There are no hard feelings because Britain made Australia do it. France gets thrown through a plate glass window, but gets back up and carries on fighting. Russia gets thrown through another one, gets knocked out, suffers brain damage, and wakes up with a complete personality change. Italy throws a punch at Austria and misses, but Austria falls over anyway.

    Italy raises both fists in the air and runs round the room chanting. America waits till Germany is about to fall over from sustained punching from Britain and France, then walks over and smashes it with a bar stool, then pretends it won the fight all by itself. By now all the chairs are broken and the big mirror over the bar is shattered. Britain, France and America agree that Germany threw the first punch, so the whole thing is Germany’s fault. While Germany is still unconscious, they go through its pockets, steal its wallet, and buy drinks for all their friends

    Liked by 1 person

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