Kitchener? No – We don’t need you says Green Party

Andrew Cooper

Andrew Cooper

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Lord Kitchener, the great World War I recruiter, is to be the new face of the £2 coin.

Andrew Cooper of Yorkshire and the Humber Green Party said: “Like so many of the statues of military men to be found around Westminster, Kitchener is a reminder of the days of industrial warfare and of the military and political leaders who made huge blunders costing millions of lives.

“This was a case of ‘lions led by donkeys’ as has been described by several historians of World War One.

“Shouldn’t 2014 be about remembering the monumental folly of war?

“A different, progressive choice for the £2 coin could have been a war poet, Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves, or Siegfried Sassoon. Or better still Vera Brittain, showing the female side of service and loss and working for a better world.

“Instead they chose Kitchener – a man whose driving force was putting a million men more in the field than the enemy – knowing they were machine gun fodder and regardless of how many came back.

“We really ought to be commemorating the end of World War One not the beginning.”

* Wilfred Owen - wrote Dulce et Decorum Est . Had always wanted to be a poet, signed up in 1915 after propaganda pressure. He was blown up and hospitalised. After recovering, was sent back and won the MC for capturing a German machine gun and killing a number of Germans. He was shot dead on 4th Nov 1918.

* Robert von Ranke Graves - London-born of a German mother, joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers, was a friend of fellow poets Owen and Sassoon, was invalided out in 1916. He went on to become Oxford Professor of Poetry and wrote I Claudius.

* Siegfried Sassoon, joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers, and met Graves. Armed with grenades he scattered 60 German soldiers: He went over with bombs in daylight, under covering fire from a couple of rifles, and scared away the occupants. A pointless feat, since instead of signalling for reinforcements, he sat down in the German trench and began reading a book of poems which he had brought with him. When he went back he did not even report. Colonel Stockwell, then in command, raged at him. The attack on Mametz Wood had been delayed for two hours because British patrols were still reported to be out. “British patrols” were Siegfried and his book of poems. “I’d have got you a D.S.O., if you’d only shown more sense,” stormed Stockwell.

* Vera Brittain - worked as a VAD nurse looking after wounded German prisoners. Over time, she was moved to the verge of a nervous breakdown by her experiences in the war and the loss of a close friend, her fiancé and brother. Most famous for her Testament of Youth, to record the effect of the war on her generation. Her interest in politics led her to join the Peace Pledge Union.

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