World War 1 & World War 2

Here at Beauty and the Beastly Truth we want to take a look at World Wars 1 and 2 for various reasons - not least to record history, the memories and the impressions of ordinary people. We hope that many people will send in their family history - short fragments - long biographies - anything - and we will publish them here.


What impact did the wars have upon our society? Rosie was talking to David, telling him that she thinks that people forgot how to talk to one another - that nothing difficult can be addressed, nothing said - and so problems grow and grow until something small becomes something huge. That this has resulted in much unhappiness and family breakdown - and that if we as a nation recognise where this silence comes from, if the BBC were ever to become constructive and on the side of the British people, that much could be achieved and some of the terrible divisions in today’s society could be repaired.


As it happened, David was organising a public viewing of the film “Oh What a Lovely War” and the final sequence of the film has this song:


“And when they ask us, how dangerous it was,

Oh, we'll never tell them, no, we'll never tell them”


The final 7 minutes of the film:
















Here is David’s introduction to the film - we hope it will inspire you to watch the full movie.


A movie that was first released fifty years ago.

But the songs around which it was written were sung a hundred years ago.

I think it is for this reason that it has stood the test of time.

The men who wrote these songs and sang them were there in what must be one of the most horrific conflicts in recent history. They heard the bullets and the shells. They were part of the carnage.

Yet it is funny, satirical and ultimately moving and humbling. When it was made in 1968, many people who witnessed the war were still alive. And still they didn’t talk about it.

Most of it was filmed in and around Brighton and much on Brighton’s famous Pier which, I think, emphasises the remoteness from the troops of the generals and politicians as they watched the scoreboard, clicking round, adding up the dead.

We say it is a ‘star-studded cast’ and though many are now dead, for those Downton Abbey fans the sight of a very young and slender Dowager Duchess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) strutting her stuff on stage is a sight to remember.

Star-Studded it is. It gives you a cross section of the greatest acting talent of the time and I think why it is a wonderful film is due in part to the fact it is about the most poignant period in our history; that changed our history.

How was it that so many millions of young men went off to be slaughtered in the trenches, scarcely protesting, how did that happen, have we ever recovered from that?  Grass and crops grow over the fields where the trenches were but I think its legacy is now part of our national psyche.

It also depicts the wonderful British spirit of good humour, resignation and cynicism. Let’s hope we never lose that.


The Queen's Christmas Message 2018

“For many, the service of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, is when Christmas begins. Listened to by millions of people around the world, it starts with a chorister singing the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City.

“The priest who introduced this service to King’s College chapel, exactly one hundred years ago, was Eric Milner-White. He had served as a military chaplain in the First World War. Just six weeks after the Armistice, he wanted a new kind of service which, with its message of peace and goodwill, spoke to the needs of the times.

“Twenty eighteen has been a year of centenaries. The Royal Air Force celebrated its 100th anniversary with a memorable fly-past demonstrating a thrilling unity of purpose and execution. We owe them and all our Armed Services our deepest gratitude.

“My father served in the Royal Navy during the First World War. He was a midshipman in HMS Collingwood at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. The British fleet lost 14 ships and 6,000 men in that engagement. My father wrote in a letter: ‘How and why we were not hit beats me’. Like others, he lost friends in the war.

“At Christmas, we become keenly aware of loved ones who have died, whatever the circumstances. But, of course, we would not grieve if we did not love."