We should all learn about horrors of First World War

COMMENT: All agencies must to held to account for Anne Savidge’s tragic death

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I sat rather uneasily on my comfy sofa, watching on my flat screen TV as the story of The Great War unfolded.

Jeremy Paxman is presenting a four-part series as the centenary approaches of what should have been the war to end all wars.

It is hard to believe what life in Britain in 1914, now virtually beyond living memory, was like.

Things had not changed much since Victorian times. The Downton Abbey-type life continued.

Stiff upper lips, respect, religion and order ruled the day. For the working class, it was no holidays, church and the pub.

The world was unimaginably big. Going as far as Southampton would have been seen as an adventure.

The German army was two million strong, well-trained and well-equipped. The British army, 200,000 strong, was used to winning but was totally naive.

It wasn’t long after the first epic battle at Mons that we were in retreat.

As Lord Kitchener demanded a huge army to take on the Germans, millions of men volunteered.

The rich, the poor. Aristocracy and poverty joined side by side.

National pride, camaraderie, peer pressure or guilt made men join the most brutal war of all time.

By 1916, you had no choice. You were conscripted and had to fight for your country. Cowards were shamed on the street, sent to the trenches to carry the wounded, or prison.

I cannot imagine what this must have been like for millions of families. Men from Portsmouth may never have even been to London before, let alone Belgium.

Then they were faced with such atrocity. In many ways, ignorance was bliss. Imagine tomorrow being told you were being sent to Afghanistan or Syria to fight on the streets?

But for these men, stories and rumour were how information was passed. Terror would have filled their hearts as their call -up letter landed on the doormat.

After watching the first episode, I thank my lucky stars for the life we all lead today.

This is why we should all learn about the horrors of the First World War and never be allowed to forget.