Never forget

In 2018 I contributed to a Doctor Who charity anthology, Time Shadows Second Nature. This week three separate things reminded me of this. The most recent Doctor Who episode is, like the story, set during the Crimean War. Secondly, I was revising my biography of William Onion, who joined the Marines when they were fighting in the Crimea. The third was Remembrance Day.

11 November commemorates Armistice Day for the First World War but is also an opportunity to remember all those who gave their lives in battle before and since. The Crimea War developed the use of trench warfare as a great European army fought an alliance of other states. Less than fifty years later, the sides and scale changed.

William Onion lived to see the start of the First World War, with a reputation for patriotic poetry during the Boer War and other campaigns. Whilst his work has largely been forgotten because of the more sombre and critical verses of the great war poets, we should never forget that the British Army alone lost an estimated 39,000 soldiers in battle between 1856 and 1914.

Paul Williams is a writer of fiction and non-fiction best known for his Jack the Ripper Suspects: The Definitive Guide and Encyclopedia.

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