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phil andrade
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...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/7/2017 6:36:48 AM
To all my pals on MHO.....would you think me presumptuous if I invited you to take two minutes to read Act 4 Scene 4 of Hamlet ?

If ever there was a passage of literature that speaks about the folly of war, this was it.

The fact that the play was written by Shakespeare at the beginning of the seventeenth century ( 1601 ) makes its impact all the more pertinent and enduring.

It alludes to some long forgotten warfare in the Baltic...perhaps Kai, being Norwegian, can throw some light on the ancient feuds between Scandinavians and Poles.

But, heck, what Hamlet hears and says could apply to Verdun, Stalingrad, or - I daresay - Mosul or Raqqa.


This really rings down the ages....forgive the cliché, but it applies.

Please share your comments and thoughts,

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

kaii
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/7/2017 6:07:35 PM

Quote:

It alludes to some long forgotten warfare in the Baltic...perhaps Kai, being Norwegian, can throw some light on the ancient feuds between Scandinavians and Poles.


--phil andrade


The Vikings used to raid the Baltic Sea every summer ("raiding season"), mostly the Swedes and Danes I should add (the Norwegians mostly went West, especially after 789.)
They often came in contact with Poles and Lithuanians along the coast of course. The Danes fought battles in the Baltic in the 1200's, and even had their flag fall from the sky (apparently) in 1219 during a battle right outside modern day Tallinn.

If I remember correctly, this scene in Hamlet is about the Norwegian army that is crossing Denmark to attack a small part of Poland (?).

Conflicts with the Poles are not particularly prominent in historical sources as far as I know, but one thing that springs to mind is that King Erik III of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, was both born and buried in Poland (Pommerania) and did engage in some minor warfare in Poland in connection with family feuds etc in the early 1400's or so. Perhaps that is the inspiration for Hamlet?

In general though, the Swedes have been at war with Poland-Lithuania, mostly, whereas Denmark-Norway mostly was allied with the Poles I think.

Now, the character of Fortinbras, the Norwegian prince with a suspiciously French sounding name, is worth a PhD in itself (and I am sure many have been written allready...).


Thanks for posting Phil. You are quite right that the end note of Scene 4, with the monologue about the futility of fighting over something that is essentially worthless, resonates through the ages right up to our own time.

K
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BWilson

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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/8/2017 1:27:01 AM
Kai,

 You're correct, it is suspicious. The freakin' French fortin' around in a Scandinavian palace ... and the ham let it happen.

 The Swedes came through Poland on big campaigns but I think that postdates Hamlet.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/8/2017 3:53:43 AM

Quote:
If ever there was a passage of literature that speaks about the folly of war, this was it.


Having read the Intro- I get the impression that the ensuing thread has to do with warfare and it's human cost. For whatever reason that mankind has decided to take up arms-is ultimately fruitless and is only hallmarked by those who perished in that conflict. eg Passchendaele where a quarter of a million died minimum- for a piece of ground that was never used. Sheer Folly in my book.

Regards

Jim

---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/8/2017 5:18:54 AM
There was a terrific battle at Visby in 1361 ( ? ) fought between Scandinavian hosts.

An archeological excavation six hundred years later revealed how gruesome the battle must have been.

A famous photo of a skull with mail armour adorned the cover of John Keegan's ground breaking book The Face of Battle.

This scene in Hamlet makes comments about warfare that are redolent of a modern perception of war : perhaps the medieval allegiances were giving way to the notion of the nation sate by the time that Shakespeare wrote the play......... Something is rotten in the state of Denmark .

When circumstances allow, I'll revisit the passage and make some more comments.

Jim is right to mention Passchendaele : that rivals Verdun as the modern European example of the things Hamlet dwells on.

More to come.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/8/2017 7:20:58 AM
Another military blunder was the Boer War of 1899--1902 when the British Empire thought the Boers were getting too "uppity" by declaring an Orange Free State; and went to war quite unprepared for what was to come. Although the Brits weathered the Boer's accurate rifle fire- they did sort of win-but by sticking all the Boer women and children into Concentration Camps.

The butchers bill for this fiasco was over 20,000 Rritish soldiers lost against 6500 Boers-there were however civilian casualties of 5000 Boer women and children who died of disease and bad treatments for the plutocrats in the wings What a Triumph!!! Over 30,000 dead for absolutely nothing--well perhaps- that is not absolutely accurate-there were gold and diamond mining rights for the plutocrats waiting in the wings.That was the real reason for that conflict.

Regards

Jim
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George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/8/2017 8:00:49 AM
I have to do this Jim. It was our first foreign military action since Confederation in 1867.

Don't forget the colonials.

Boer War

89 Canadians were killed in action, 135 died of sickness or injuries and 252 were injured.

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/8/2017 8:58:17 AM
Tempus Fugit George-one lives and hopefully one learns; and it is my opinion today that it was not a well intentioned war by any stretch of the imagination.
It was Cecil Rhodes-the political schemer and high powered financier who was one of the orchestraters of that war.

Regards

Jim
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George
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/8/2017 10:31:06 AM
Jim, as I recall there was considerable outrage in Canada once news of the mistreatment of civilians was reported.

Outrage was doubled when it was reported that Canadian soldiers had participated in the torching of Boer villages and had escorted women and children to filthy concentration camps.

But others chose to ignore the atrocities and simply demonstrated pride in the Canadian soldiers. Praise and criticism could be divided along ethnic lines.

There was plenty of praise for the fighting ability of the Canadians in combat but sullied by participation in actions against civilians.

I have read that the reluctance of French Canadians to fight in the two world wars was partly attributed to outrage over the Boer War.

Henri Bourassa, Quebec politician campaigned against participation in a war of British imperialism.


Note that John McCrae of "In Flanders Fields" fame enlisted and fought in the Boer War as an artillery lieutenant.

The son of future PM Robert Borden, Frederick, was killed in the Boer War.


anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/8/2017 11:36:16 AM
Much appreciate your interest George.I have to agree that Herbert Kitchener's idea of introducing Concentration Camps to incarcerate Boer women and children to bring brother Boer to heel- is not war in my book either.

Truth to tell though as I have said- it was a trumped up accusation- sheltering greedy men's aspirations; which brought about this,dare I say,shabby conflict-- with it's duite unnecessary human cost.

Regards

Jim
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George
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/8/2017 12:25:27 PM

Quote:
Of thinking too precisely on th' event—
A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom
And ever three parts coward—I do not know
Why yet I live to say “This thing’s to do,”
Sith I have cause and will and strength and means
To do ’t. Examples gross as earth exhort me.
Witness this army of such mass and charge
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit with divine ambition puffed
Makes mouths at the invisible event,
Exposing what is mortal and unsure
To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,
Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honor’s at the stake. How stand I then,
That have a father killed, a mother stained,
Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep—while, to my shame, I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men,
That for a fantasy and trick of fame
Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain? Oh, from this time forth,
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!


Hamlet has experienced every provocation that would lead him to go to war and yet he speaks of the,


Quote:
The imminent death of twenty thousand men,
That for a fantasy and trick of fame
Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain


So how many of our wars have been fought for honour alone or for fame and on a little piece of land not big enough to bury all those who will die in battle?

I think that it takes a rather mature person to ignore the provocations of other men or nations and not to go to war just to restore honour.

And yes I think that we may be witnessing a little of that in Korea right now.



Quote:
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth


Is Hamlet trying to convince himself that he must ignore those pangs of conscience that are telling him to hesitate?

That is worrisome.

I recall the Cuban Missile Crisis in which two men, JFK and the oft maligned Nikita Khrushchev ignored the bluster and rhetoric and restored sanity to the situation. Honour was at stake however and both nations had to give a little in order to withdraw with honour intact.

It could have been much worse, I think.



Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/8/2017 1:09:51 PM
[Quote]So how many of our wars have been fought for honour alone or for fame and on a little piece of land not big enough to bury all those who will die in battle?[/Quote]

Tough on that George-Perhaps the Peninsular War of 1807-1814 in Spain/Portugal against the "would be Alexander"-Napoleon Bonaparte-who was,at the time; posing a genuine threat to our sovereignty.There were a myriad of Battles ,Actions and Sieges scattered all over the countryside-all commanded by Wellington-Napoleon's "bete noir".I thought Napoleon eccentric to say the least-- like all of history's world beaters

Following this long war which saw Napoleon driven back into France in disgrace where he was sent into exile on the island of Elba,from which he escaped ,rallied his army and fought Wellington for the last time at Waterloo and was with help from Blucher beat again; but it was a close run thing

The allied loss in the Peninsular war was about 5,000, the French 3,000. Thus, in the last great battle of the war, the courage and resolution of the soldiers of the Peninsular army were conspicuously illustrated.

PS A really honourable battle on a small piece of land I will think on that

Regards

jim
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phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/8/2017 3:16:39 PM

Quote:
Another military blunder was the Boer War of 1899--1902 when the British Empire thought the Boers were getting too "uppity" by declaring an Orange Free State; and went to war quite unprepared for what was to come. Although the Brits weathered the Boer's accurate rifle fire- they did sort of win-but by sticking all the Boer women and children into Concentration Camps.

The butchers bill for this fiasco was over 20,000 Rritish soldiers lost against 6500 Boers-there were however civilian casualties of 5000 Boer women and children who died of disease and bad treatments for the plutocrats in the wings What a Triumph!!! Over 30,000 dead for absolutely nothing--well perhaps- that is not absolutely accurate-there were gold and diamond mining rights for the plutocrats waiting in the wings.That was the real reason for that conflict.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


A war which still makes British people feel uncomfortable : it reflected little credit on either British arms or British policy...and as for the death rate in the concentration camps, Jim , I think your five thousand is a fraction of the true toll...twenty six thousand being the figure that comes to my mind, preponderantly women and children.

And yet, and yet...this tawdry war, which unsettled the British people even at the time, was, in a sense, astonishingly successful. It brought the immense mineral wealth of South Africa to the British Empire, and, amazing to behold, kept the Afrikaner population largely on the British side barely a decade later...some of the Boer leaders taking up arms against the Germans. It makes you wonder, doesn't it ?

As for what Hamlet's witnessing, things could hardly be more different....

The Prince,, in the scene we're discussing is watching the Norwegian troops of Fortinbras deploy through Denmark, seeking permission to make a foray against the Poles. He asks a Norwegian captain what's going on, and is told that we're fighting for a piece of ground that's absolutely worthless...I wouldn't pay tuppence to farm it, and it'll be worth sweet FA to the Poles or the Norwegians ! . Hamlet remarks that surely the Poles will not bother defending it.... Yes, it's already garrisoned , the captain tells him.

Then Hamlet says something that really demands contemplation :

This is th' imposthume of much wealth and peace,
That inward breaks, and shows no cause without
Why the man dies...


That's extraordinary...he's saying, I think, that this is what comes from too much wealth and peace, it's like an abscess that bursts and kills a man, but shows no outward cause of death.

Too much wealth and peace ?

I'm getting bogged down in this.

I must get down and dirty with the history of the actual battles and wars.

Regards, Phil


---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 4:44:38 AM
The War of the Roses was fought b the Royal Houses of York and Lancaster for the right to wear the English crown.It was a series of battles spread over the period c 1457--70. The Battle of Towton in Yorkshire was the bloodiest battle in English history

The Yorkist Army led by Edward IV was about 30,00 and the Lancasrians led by Richard III was perhaps 32,00o. Both had a relatively small cavalry contingent of nobles.The main body of each army was made up of loyal peasantry armed with whatever they could lay their hands on eg knives,axes,rough spears,etc.

The battle was fought on 30 December 1461 in fields near Towton in a snowstorm.The fighting was furious until the Lancastrian van of cavalry was soundly beaten by the Yorkist Van of cavalry This single action signalled the end; for panic set in among the Lancastrians and they started to retreat which eventually turned into a rout Edward who had ordered No Quarter led to a fearful slaughter by the Yorkist peasantry who killed and mutilated 20,00o Lancastrian peasants

All told 28.000 dead were left unhidden on the bloody Field of Towton. Edward rode off to London to claim the crown.

The field of Towton was known as the Bloody Meadow, with good reason. On April 7, Bishop Neville of Exeter wrote to the bishop of Teramo in Flanders. He reported the events of the six weeks that had just passed, including the slaughter at Towton, where he estimated that 28,000 men had been killed. “Alas!” he wrote, “we are a race deserving of pity even from the French.”

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 6:10:00 AM
Armageddon--The Battle of Okinawa 1945
An enormous story-hereunder salient points


[Read More]

541,000 in Tenth Army
183,000 combat troops rising to c. 250,000 versus76,000 Japanese soldiers,20,000 Okinawan conscripts

Casualties and losses
United States American Personnel:
20,195 dead
12,520 killed in action

55,162 wounded

Material:
12 destroyers sunk
15 amphibious ships sunk
9 other ships sunk
386 ships damaged
763-768 aircraft
225 tanks

Japanese Personnel:
From 77,166 killed to 110,000 killed (US estimate)
More than 7,000 captured

Material:
1 battleship sunk
1 light cruiser sunk
5 destroyers sunk
9 other warships sunk
1,430 aircraft lost
27 tanks destroyed
743 artillery pieces, anti-tank guns, and anti-aircraft guns

40,000–150,000 civilians killed out of some est.300,000

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 7:13:15 AM
Jim,

How much credence should we place on that 28,000 claim for Towton ?

These medieval chroniclers were notoriously fast and loose with their statistics.

I'm trying to get my head round what the size of the English population was in those days....less than one tenth what it is today, I would have thought.

Try and imagine a proportionate loss of life in a single day of battle in today's population....that would equate to three hundred thousand men killed.

It's quite a stretch.

And yet, there was a massacre there ; and an especially atrocious one too, judging by the wounds that were apparent on skeletal remains excavated from Towton recently. An archer had been mutilated and tortured before having his head smashed in with a spiked hammer....people didn't like archers, they were too effective and a special vengeance was meted out on them.

So, while I'm circumspect about that figure of 28,000, I must not be too dismissive.

Populations were smaller, and armies correspondingly so, but up close and personal battle was more deadly and proportionately bloodier than even Okinawa, I daresay.

I wonder what lengths the warriors of the medieval battles went to to hide the slain .

I imagine the dead being left to rot...but perhaps there was a concerted effort to inter them.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

BWilson

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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 7:28:33 AM
I imagine the dead being left to rot...but perhaps there was a concerted effort to inter them.

 A lot of flies and disease would have come from that. But I'll never forget a French museum owner telling me how, after the battle, the ground in the area of Falaise was black -- crawling with a "bounty harvest" of flies that followed their feasting on the dead men and horses.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
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Posts: 1901

Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 7:38:01 AM

Quote:
Jim,

How much credence should we place on that 28,000 claim for Towton ?

These medieval chroniclers were notoriously fast and loose with their statistics.

I'm trying to get my head round what the size of the English population was in those days....less than one tenth what it is today, I would have thought.

Try and imagine a proportionate loss of life in a single day of battle in today's population....that would equate to three hundred thousand men killed.

It's quite a stretch.

And yet, there was a massacre there ; and an especially atrocious one too, judging by the wounds that were apparent on skeletal remains excavated from Towton recently. An archer had been mutilated and tortured before having his head smashed in with a spiked hammer....people didn't like archers, they were too effective and a special vengeance was meted out on them.

So, while I'm circumspect about that figure of 28,000, I must not be too dismissive.

Populations were smaller, and armies correspondingly so, but up close and personal battle was more deadly and proportionately bloodier than even Okinawa, I daresay.

I wonder what lengths the warriors of the medieval battles went to to hide the slain .

I imagine the dead being left to rot...but perhaps there was a concerted effort to inter them.

Regards, Phil
--Phil andrade


Phil, I believe the figure often quoted is that the 28,000 dead at Towton would represent 1% of the entire population in Britain at the time - i.e. if true it would be a massive blow not only to the armies involved, but to the economy as such. Imagine losing 600,000 men in one battle today.

K

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Phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 7:49:50 AM
Today the Times newspaper featured a very unsettling report of a British ISIS fighter - an Anglo Pakistani barrister who relinquished his career to volunteer for Daesh.

By his account, the unburied dead in Raqqa are so numerous that cats and dogs have literally grown fat feasting on the corpses.

The European Wars of Religion - contemporaneous with Shakespeare's life - rent this continent in much the same way as the Middle East is being torn now.

You could almost equate the several centuries that lapsed between the establishment of Christianity and Islam with the time gulf between those European wars and the current events in Syria and Iraq.

If a Hamlet were to walk the stage now, and comment on the deployment of more troops to Afghanistan , I wonder what he'd say.


Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 7:51:01 AM
Phil- According to the Demography of England it was 3.2 million in 1460.

The Death Toll at Towton was 8000 Yorkists and 20,00 Lancastrians (mostly peasants)-do remember it was a unrestricted slaughter of all runaways including the wounded by half crazed men with a blood lust-it was blood fest by ignorant men killing and mutilating for the hell of it.

These bodies would- I have no doubt-have been left to rot after the ghouls had been and gone

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 8:06:56 AM

Quote:
Phil- According to the Demography of England it was 3.2 million in 1460.

The Death Toll at Towton was 8000 Yorkists and 20,00 Lancastrians (mostly peasants)-do remember it was a unrestricted slaughter of all runaways including the wounded by half crazed men with a blood lust-it was blood fest by ignorant men killing and mutilating for the hell of it.

These bodies would- I have no doubt-have been left to rot after the ghouls had been and gone

Regards

Jim
--anemone



You're right, Jim, I'm sure, about the nature of this fight.

This figure of 28,000 would represent, as Kai points out, close to one per cent of the entire English population . Bear in mind that these would have been males of military age, who, by rule of thumb, account for one fifth of the entire population . That would mean, if my sums are correct, that one in twenty of all the men of military age in the entire realm would have been wiped out in a single day. In the years 1914-18, it took four years to destroy one tenth of British military manhood ; to contemplate half that toll being attributed to a single day is absolutely mind boggling.

In a subsistence economy, which relies on manual labour to work the land, the implications of such a catastrophe are hard to imagine.

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 8:24:47 AM
George,

You ask whether Hamlet is trying to convince himself that he must ignore those pangs of conscience that are telling him to hesitate .

In my reckoning, Hamlet is essentially a warrior - like his dad - albeit wrapped up in the philosopher's cloak.

He likes a fight.

He hesitates, ponders, and then suddenly discards restraint and gets stuck in.

Look at what he does to Polonius.

When he's grappling with Laertes in Ophelia's grave, he warns the young nobleman that, though he's not splenative or rash, he has in himself something dangerous which one must beware of.

He wins the fencing contest with Laertes.

He even - if I understand correctly - suggests that too much wealth and peace has had a potentially lethal effect on the body politic.

The last words of the play Go, bid the soldiers shoot are a fitting epitaph.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 8:27:44 AM

Quote:
Bear in mind that these would have been males of military age, who, by rule of thumb, account for one fifth of the entire population


I don't think so Phil-there would have been many boys who had followed their fathers on this great crusade to serve their champion-such were the times.

NB. At Agincourt cowardly Frenchmen had murdered all the baggage boysand this had so incensed Henry V that he too had ordered -No Quarter

Been trying to find out how Okinaea was cleaned up and the myriad of bodies disposed of -dead soldiers of one US Infantry Division were burned.However I suspect that the Japaese dead were buried en masse in bulldozed pits.This time the dead have to be hidden

Regards

Jim .
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 10:56:11 AM
The Rape of Nanking December 1037-February 1938-Sino/Nipponese War

Though the Japanese initially agreed to respect the Nanking Safety Zone, ultimately not even these refugees were safe from the vicious attacks.

In January 1938, the Japanese declared that order had been restored in the city, and dismantled the safety zone; killings continued until the first week of February.

A puppet government was installed, which would rule Nanking until the end of World War II.

There are no official numbers for the death toll in the Nanking Massacre, though estimates range from 200,000 to 300,000 people.

NB.No hiding place for the slain here

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 11:05:53 AM
The equivalent to the Rape of Nanking - in Shakespeare's times - might have been the sacking of Magdeburg in 1631 - that's thirty years after Hamlet was staged, so I use artistic licence .

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 11:21:58 AM
The Siege of Magdeburg Another Nightmare of Man's Inhumanity to Man

The remnants of those who were badly burned and crushed by
falling walls had to be cleared away with pitchforks. Hence, no one can know the total figure of the dead.

In general, however, it is reckoned that, including the two suburbs and those killed by the Imperial cavalry – who not only took part in the storming of the city but later searched around in the cellars and houses – some 20,000 persons, old and young, lost their lives through such sufferings or in other ways.

The dead bodies in front of the watergate that had been carried into
the Elbe could not float away because there was no ripple or eddy there to move them. Many also bobbed around there for a long time, some with their heads out of the water, some with their hands stretched to the heavens, giving onlookers quite a horrid spectacle.

This sight gave rise to much babbling, just as if the dead were still praying, singing, and crying to God for vengeance. People will gossip about visions, apparitions, and other such things, but no one wants to affirm the truth of them.

Regards

Jim
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BWilson

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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 2:09:47 PM
Been trying to find out how Okinaea was cleaned up and the myriad of bodies disposed of -dead soldiers of one US Infantry Division were burned.However I suspect that the Japaese dead were buried en masse in bulldozed pits.

Jim,

 I have doubts about the claim of U.S. dead being burned, unless it was the Japanese forces doing it. The official history volume for Quartermaster Corps operations in the Pacific Theater makes no mention of such practice. The volume can be read at [Read More], approx. pages 249-257 address the challenges faced by the graves registration personnel, and Okinawa is mentioned as an instance in which the allocation of graves registration personnel was especially high. The disposal of U.S. bodies on Okinawa mentioned is burial in temporary cemeteries.

Cheers

BW

---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/9/2017 2:54:53 PM
Lurid claims about the burning of battlefield dead were extant in WW1 : in the opening battles, it has been claimed, the Germans resorted to cremation of their dead as a means of sustaining the momentum of their advance. This doesn't seem feasible to me....burning dead bodies is hard work, and distinctly deleterious to the morale of soldiers who still cherished notions of Christian burial, especially if they were Catholic. But the stories won't go away, and have been endorsed by high calibre military historians : one of them, the late Richard Holmes, being quite emphatic in his description of the battle of Mons that the Germans were burning hetacombs of their own dead along the canal bank. I would guess that these might have been horses, not men. The Germans went to great lengths to recover and inter the dead, even those of their enemies. Witness the story of Pheasant Wood at Fromelles. The stories reached their apogee in the propaganda regarding the German corpse factories, where dead soldiers were said to be melted down and used to provide fats and tallow.

At Gallipoli, however, there can be no doubt that cremation was practiced , and on a significant scale, too.

The fighting there does not compare in scale with the gigantic battles on the Western Front, but , as a killing ground, the place was as bad as it gets. Worse still, the compressed and craggy terraine and the heat combined to make it unspeakably revolting, with terrifically intense fighting at very close quarters raging over a thoroughly putrid battlefield . And it was here, at Gallipoli, in August 1915, that an allusion was made that brings Hamlet to mind. In that month alone, at least 45,000 Allied soldiers and an equal number of Turks were killed and wounded fighting to wrest control of - in General Godley's words - five hundred acres of very bad grazing ground .

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/10/2017 5:54:24 AM
Forcing the Dardanelles by naval power was the key to the overall success of the Turkish venture

However the Turks were aware that an Allied naval attack on the strait was a strong possibility, and with German help, had greatly improved their defenses in the region.

Though the Allies had bombarded and destroyed the Turkish forts near the entrance to the Dardanelles in the days leading up to the attack, the water was heavily mined, forcing the Allied navy to sweep the area before its fleet could set forth.

However, the minesweepers (conscripted fishing trawlers) did not manage to clear the area completely: Three of the 10 Allied battleships (Britain’s Irresistible and Ocean, and France’s Bouvet) were sunk, and two more were badly damaged. With half the fleet out of commission, the remaining ships were pulled back.

Though Churchill argued for the attack to be renewed the next day, claiming, erroneously as it turned out, that the Turks were running low on munitions.

The Allied war command opted to delay the naval attack at the Dardanelles and combine it with a ground invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula, which bordered the northern side of the strait.This was folly of the highest magnitude.Time was the one thong they did not have.--

"Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action."


Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/11/2017 6:40:10 AM
The Falaise Gap Battle-12--21 August 1944

General Eisenhower recorded that:


Quote:
The battlefield at Falaise was unquestionably one of the greatest "killing fields" of any of the war areas. Forty-eight hours after the closing of the gap I was conducted through it on foot, to encounter scenes that could be described only by Dante. It was literally possible to walk for hundreds of yards at a time, stepping on nothing but dead and decaying flesh.

— Eisenhower

Fear of infection from the rancid conditions-thousands of German dead and wounded said to be 59,000- led the Allies to declare the area an "unhealthy zone".

Clearing the area was a low priority though, and went on until well into November. Many swollen bodies had to be shot to expunge gasses within them before they could be burnt, and bulldozers were used to clear the area of dead animals.No hiding of the slain here then.



[Read More]

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Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/11/2017 8:47:39 AM
Jim,

Your Hamlet quote was perfect at the end of the Dardanelles narrative.

Was the expedition sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought , or was it catastrophically flawed by an insufficiency of thought, rather than an excess of it ?

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/11/2017 9:23:08 AM
Alas, poor Yorick !

Think of those moments when soldiers have crossed over - or bivouacked on - an old battlefield , and have contemplated the fate that befell their predecessors, and would likely face themselves on the morrow.

Early May, 1864, and the Yankee soldiers prepare for battle in the Wilderness, spending the night on the field of Chancellorsville , surrounded by the skulls of those who perished there exactly one year earlier.

How many of those American citizen soldiers, do you think, would have been sufficiently versed in the tradition of Shakespeare to reflect on that speech from Hamlet when they surveyed their macabre surroundings ?

This must have happened so often in the fields of France and Flanders half a century later.

Hamlet encountered Yorick's skull during a session of banter with a ribald gravedigger .....he wasn't on a battlefield, although he was clearly all too aware of his own peril.

I can think of few things more damaging to the morale of soldiers than the countenance of their long dead and unburied comrades, especially on the eve of battle.

Battlefield clearance was essential, not only for reasons of hygiene, but also to protect the morale of combatants .

Monty was very aware of this, and was determined that every effort be made in WW2 to avoid the gruesome spectacle that had afflicted the generation of 1914-18.

Some generals have appreciated how potent a weapon this spectacle can be, and insisted that the enemy be made to endure the experience. Such was the case on the Eastern Front in 1916, during the " Kowel Massacres " , when the Russians were launching repeated frontal assaults against the German positions in the August heat. The German commander refused to allow a truce to bury the dead, because he realised how demoralising it was for the Russians to advance over the decomposed bodies of their comrades.

Regards , Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/11/2017 9:31:33 AM

Quote:
Catastrophically flawed by an insufficiency of thought, rather than an excess of it ?


Absolutely Phil-it was completely fouled up by poorly defined objectives eg.scaling precipices-the direct result of pathetically poor planning with inaccurate maps-the whole bloody mess bring exacerbated by an obvious insufficiency of artillery.

There were far too many inexperienced troops eg. the Norfolks who got lost and got dead,poor intelligence not helped by overconfidence and thus poor tactics,quite inadequate equipment and logistics-well what can I say-I doubt whether the top brass could spell that word.

Phil-in my opinion the whole venture was appalling.

Regards

Jim


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Phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/11/2017 11:46:07 AM
Jim,

Gallipoli has this special notoriety .

It exemplifies a classic foul up.

And yet, it has an enormous flavour of might have been .

There was a hubristic aspect to it.

I wonder if I might find some passage from Hamlet that I could apply to the Dardanelles !

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/11/2017 12:03:26 PM
At the risk of being boring here it is again

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.


Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/11/2017 12:18:48 PM
The implication being that the Dardanelles foray was an enterprise of great pith and moment, that was subverted by lack of resolve and a tendency to dither ?

Read thus, it's an endorsement of Churchill's view.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/11/2017 12:42:38 PM
Exactly Phil-did not know that it endorses Churchill's view.

PS I am keen; but not at all sure that I want to do El Alamein a la Shakespeare-I do believe that I have neither the wit nor the words to accomplish this piece well enough- not for anyone else; but for myself.
How about you starting the piece and telling me briefly what to say-Huh??



Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/11/2017 1:00:33 PM
The Battle of Flodden Field 1513

This battle was fought about 7 miles south of Berwick on Tweed between the Scots and yje English.It was a decisive victory for the English-the Scots losing their king and the Flower of Scotland 10-12,000 nobles ad men


[Read More]

Regards

Jim
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phil andrade
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/11/2017 1:35:16 PM

Quote:
At the risk of being boring here it is again

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.


Regards

Jim
--anemone


Jim,

That passage yields some wonderful quotes. A line or two before those that you cite above, he says;

Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death....makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of ?


Let me pair that with a quote from an English soldier who enlisted to escape the life of an agricultural labourer. He certainly knew what it was to bear fardels and grunt and sweat under a weary life.

He was interviewed about his memories of serving on the Gallipoli peninsula...

I want to say this simply as a fact, that village people in Suffolk in my day were worked to death. It literally happened. It is not a figure of speech. I was worked mercilessly.

He recalled one of the first things he saw after disembarking on the peninsula : a " big marquee".

It didn't make me think of the military but of the village fetes. Other people must have thought like this because I remember how we all rushed up to it, like boys getting into a circus, and then found it all laced up. We unlaced it and rushed in. It was full of corpses. Dead Englishmen, lines and lines of them, with their eyes wide open. We all stopped talking. I'd never seen a dead man before and here I was looking at two or three hundred of them. It was our first fear. Nobody had mentioned this. I was very shocked. I thought of Suffolk and it seemed a happy place for the first time.

So here we are then, a failed attempt " to hide the slain " and the impact that this had on impressionable young soldiers.

Thanks for staying with me on this, Jim : I realise that this has become another Andrade - Anenome duet, and I fear that I might be guilty of flogging a dead horse if I persist in indulging my love of Hamlet !

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Posts: 6033
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Re: ...to hide the slain...
Posted on: 10/11/2017 1:54:24 PM
Phil-you could not be more mistaken-even with "one foot in the grave" this has been an education for me-and I am grateful for it-being no academic; but technocrat.

So let us once more unto the breech my friend


Flodden is my favourite battle;more or less on my birth place's doorstep and much is written about it- including poetry and song-we are sure to find a Hamlet quote to fit.


"I’ve heard the lilting, at the yowe-milking,
Lassies a-lilting before dawn o’ day;
But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning;
The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away”

Regards

Jim
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