Monday, January 29, 2007

Great War Monuments in London

Here's a sight no Brit wants to see...

Classic Game Room Invades London

Arrhhg! Americans!

My wife and I invaded... I mean, visited England back in October of 2005. At that time I knew that I would be working on World War 1 - American Legacy and decided to seek out some Great War Monuments while I was in London. I did not know as much then as I do now about the war or England's involvement, but the statues in London were very moving.

Great War Artillery

I did not have my Canon XTi back then with the wide angle lens, but this is a snapshot I took with my Canon Powershot of the famous Cenotaph in the center of London inscribed with "The Glorious Dead" honoring those who died in World War I.

World War I Artillery

Me standing in front of another impressive monument to those in the Great War. Inscribed on this massive state are the words "IN PROUD REMEMBRANCE OF THE FORTY NINE THOUSAND & SEVENTY SIX OF ALL RANKS OF THE ROYAL REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR KING AND COUNTRY IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1919" You can read a bit about it HERE.

WW1 Artillery

I can only imagine how many more statues and monuments we missed because we had not done any research on them prior to our visit, we merely kept an eye out for Great War monuments while walking London. This next photo is one of the most amazing things that we saw because I never imagined that I would see damage from WW1 in a major city, its just not something you see over here. But as my wife and I were looking at Cleopatra's Needle on the Thames I read the plaque on the Sphinx next to it:

World War 1 Damage

Since then I've read many WW1 books and have seen the movies like All Quiet on the Western Front and read Charley's War . When working on my film I read through the war years of Leslie's and Harpers Weekly, the English newspapers, the French L'Illustration magazines and gazed at the pictures in German books. I have come to some understanding of what England, Germany and France went through in that war. To actually see just a little fragment of it, in 2005, was something else.

WW1 Damage Next to Cleopatra's Needle

I believe strongly that as Americans it is our duty to learn about the history of our country and the world at large and view the direction that we as a country are headed with an educated viewpoint... I'll leave that up to you of course. Learning about the Great War years is an important part of that.

Now back to the fun stuff.... All work and no play makes Mark a dull boy.

After touring London for a few days the weather decided to really punish us Americans by pouring bucket loads of rain on us. However, we're from Pittsburgh. We're used to lousy weather. Regardless, I rarely need an excuse to duck into a warm pub but rain gave us the perfect opportunity to leap into the Green Man and French Horn somewhere near Trafalgar Square. There was no Green Man or French Horn to be found...

Green Man and French Horn

Now this is what I call a PUB!

It was an amazing experience visiting England. Here in the 'states we think stuff that dates back to 1890 is pretty old. In England we visited cathedrals, castles and buildings that dated back to the 10th century and earlier. Much of what we saw was built way before The United States even existed. Its quite an experience for Americans like us and one that we're looking forward to experiencing again. Seeing the Cathedral in York was worth the trip alone. So was pulling my own pint of cask conditioned ale at the Samuel Smith Brewery in Tadcaster.

Theakston's Old Peculier

Cheers to England! I had 3 of these and then walked straight into a phone pole. Mmmm... Old Peculier... one of my favorites (right up there with Samuel Smith, more on that later)

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