I would first like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2014.
I also thank you all for your support for this fantastic Association, I know that John Giles and John Terraine, to name only two, would be most proud of all that has been achieved.
The Association grows in strength both in the UK and around the world, due in no small part to the dedication of a small but growing band of volunteers that are the branch Chairmen. It is their dedication and time that they give that allows us the opportunity to join together and both be entertained and informed at branch meetings all around the globe. Thank you to all of you.
As we move ever closer to 2014 I am acutely aware that those of us that have had the chance and the honour to meet veterans of 1914 1918 owe them a great debt, in as much as they were willing to tell us what it really was like, and how they coped afterwards was tremendous.
That link, between living history and all of us, has now passed. It is now our task to inform and educate the general population, and particularly certain politicians, that the war these men fought was won by their great determination and skill, and that this was probably the best army that Britain has ever sent abroad, and the British and our Allies defeated the German equivalent. We have made great progress in this field thanks to Peter Simkins, Gary Sheffield and John Bourne, and many more besides, for their determined campaign to get the correct recognition of "The Hundred Days" and to help the Centenary Committee formed by the UK government to understand the significance and how important this is. The WFA will continue to liaise and work with all organisations with an interest in this period so important to our history
I am sure that, if the WFA could produce a device to stop us all throwing things at the TV ever time we hear a comment that relates back to the "Lions led By Donkeys" era, we would make a fortune. But despite what is produced for TV and all other media, I can assure you that the WFA will continue to do what it always has, in supporting those who strive to tell the correct story of what happened and why. Most importantly, we will "Remember".
I would like to close with quotes from John Terraine, and a Sergeant Bill Wilson 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, as found in "Cheerful Sacrifice" the great book on the battle of Arras by Jonathan Nicholls.
Sergeant Bill Wilson:
Let sleeping dogs lie. The Generals are all now dead and it is noticeable how most critics waited until they were dead before tearing them to pieces. I believe that our Generals were the best and did their job to the best of their ability. After all, we did win the War, didn't we?
It is a simple historical fact that the British Generals of the First World War, whatever their faults, did not fail in their duty.
It was not a British delegation that crossed the lines with a white flag in November 1918.
No German Army of occupation was stationed on the Thames, the Humber or the Tees.
No British Government was forced to sign a humiliating peace treaty. The British generals had done their duty. Their army and their country were on the winning side. That is the only point for examination of their quality.
(The Smoke And The Fire p 214)
Chairman, The Western Frobt Association