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Simply put, it’s amazing how ingnorant one can be, when you’re fourteen and more concerned with buying heavy metal records with skulls on the cover. Europe is a place that teems with history, both ancient and recent, which is something that, if one were to exclude the history of native poplulations, America and Canada doesn’t readily have. It’s also interesting that, in the conscious of many, World War 1 has sort of faded in public consciousness. After all, WW2 had the hallochaust, the nuclear bomb, and widespread devastation. That’s not to diminish WW1 at all, but in terms of American memory, “The Greatest Generation,” as coined by Tom Brokaw, seems remembered more today than that generation’s fathers. Perhaps, one might argue, it is because WW2 resulted, basically, from the diplomatic and other failures coming at the end of the previous war.

At anyrate, I just stumbled on on some interesting history I didn’t know before. Mons, Belgium, saw one of the first battles of the first World War:

The first battle fought by the British Army against the Germans came about simply because pre-war plans had placed the British Expeditionary Force in the way of the German advance towards Paris. This position had been agreed during pre-war discussions between the British and French Armies.

 

German troops entered Luxemburg on 2 August and moved into Belgium near Liege next day. The British Government declared war on 4 August 1914, and by 22 August the four infantry divisions and one cavalry division of the BEF had disembarked in France and taken up their positions just across the Belgian border, some miles south of Mons, on the extreme left of the Allied line.

It’s interesting, partly, because Mons, decades later, would be come the home of NATO’s military headquarters, SHAPE.

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