Unfinished Business

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It may be me. Perhaps I am getting older and the policemen younger, but wars seem to be lasting a lot longer these days.
A century ago this month, the armies of many nations across Europe marched off to war all expecting to be home by Christmas. Four years later, what was left of them, crawled, limped and stumbled back home.

Of course, it had been the war “to end all wars” but unbeknown to most people the treaties and settlements made at the end battle-of-the-sommeof that conflict laid the seeds for the next World War and most of the ailments of the Middle East that we see today.

So now the jets are in the air again over Iraq, this time to hold back the advance of a bunch of maroarding savages that are rampaging across a country, itself an invention of the First World War; rushing into a political vacuum created by one of the longest and most idiotic conflicts this century. A conflict started by buffoonery and arrogance, based on lies, misinformation and vested interests much like the first Great War.

When George W Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” on a war ship in the Persian gulf, he was merely announcing ag-cvr-080501-mission-10a.grid-6x2 tea-break, because the Iraq war will be rumbling on for some years yet.

There have been about 48 significant wars fought in the last century that have dragged on too long; there was the Vietnam war at 9 years, the Israeli – Palestinian conflict 63 years, the Afghan Civil war at 13 years and lest not forget the Cold War that lasted 45 long desolate years. We won’t even mention the war on drugs or Terrorism.

If you have to have wars, and many people believe that you do, then can’t we make them quick ones? It is possible. It’s been done before. I don’t mean the Six Day war between Israel and Egypt, Syria & Jordan.

No!    It was the Anglo- Zanzibar War, a fight between the British and the Sultanate of Zanzibar that broke out on the morning of the 27th August 1896. Zanzibar is a small island nation off the East coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean and strategically of importance to the British Empire..

The immediate cause of the war was the death of the pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini on 25 August 1896 and the subsequent succession of Sultan Khalid bin Barghash. The British authorities preferred Hamud bin Muhammed, who was

Sultan Hamud bin Muhammed

Sultan Hamud bin Muhammed

more favorable to British interests, as sultan. In accordance with a treaty singed 10 years earlier, (I hope you are keeping up with this) a condition for accession to the sultanate was that the contender obtain the permission of the British consul, something that Khalid had failed to do.

The British delivered an ultimatum to the Sultan’s Palace – stand aside in favour of Hamud bin Muhammed or face the consequences. The ultimatum expired at 09.00 that morning, and it was clear that a state of war existed; Khalid bin Barghash had hunkered down in his Palace with his Palace Guard and several hundred servants and slaves armed with a couple of machine guns and a canon, two Dow boats and a Royal Yacht.

The Sultan's Palace after 40 minutes of war

The Sultan’s Palace after 40 minutes of war

At 09.04 the British began their assault on the Palace, they fired from two navy vessels in the harbour and immediately disabled the Sultan’s guns, and sunk the Royal Yacht, then the British land forces did the rest. At 09.40 the shortest war in history was over, the Sultan Barghash was granted safe passage to German East Africa, and by lunchtime the Sultan Hamud bin Muhammed was installed in the ruins of the Palace.

As far as I can research, our two countries have been friends ever since. That is my preferred kind of war. There was no “unfinished business” afterwards, no historical fault lines left in the sand that would, in the late 20th century, come back to haunt us.    Goodness knows, we are dealing with enough of those fault lines recently and probably will be for years to come. So it is comforting that know that one bit of that unfinished business was finally taken care of this week.

There’s nothing more British than the sound of “Leather on Willow” as cricket is being played in the month of August on the village green.

It is Sunday August 3rd 1914. The Lee Cricket Club are playing the local Manor House Team from nearby Missendon. But just as it looked like the game was to reach it’s conclusion, typically for an English summers’ day, the clouds appeared from nowhere and rain stopped play. Manor House Captain Ivor Stewart-Liberty, son of Sir Arthur Liberty, founder of Liberty’s of London and opposing Captain, fast bowler Albert Phillips, swore that they would finish the match at the next opportunity.

The following day Britain declared war on Germany and all concerns about unfinished cricket matches were quickly extinguished.Cricket_Ground,_Harborne
Neither man returned from the war. Along with 30 other people from that small English village they perished in the trenches..

Then as now, cricket had its superstars and the David Beckham of the early 20th century was W.C.Grace, considered the greatest cricketer of all time. He availed himself to the War Office to help in the urgent recruitment drive for volunteers to replace the fallen in the trenches.

He appealed to the cricketers of the nation and they joined up in droves, many never to return. He wrote in the Sportsman newspaper “The time has arrived when the county cricket season should be closed,” he wrote. “It is not fitting at a time like this that able-bodied men should be playing day after day, and pleasure seekers look on.    There are so many who are young and able, and still hanging back.

G W Grace

G W Grace

I should like to see all first-class cricketers of suitable age set a good example, and come to the aid of their country without delay in its hour of need.”

The unfinished business was concluded last week when the two crickets teams, Manor House and Lee Cricket Club played out the unfinished game from 100 years ago. I wont bother you with the score, as it is completely unfathomable to me what the numbers mean.

Again under the threat of rain stopping play in the impending wake of the remnants of Hurricane Bertha that hit our shores, a truncated game was played. Liz Stewart-Liberty, who married Ivor’s son Arthur and is the Club’s life president, read a couple of poems at lunch. Teenage club members read out the names of those lost to the village and a one minute’s silence was held followed by the last post.

If only all the unfinished business from a century ago could be so easily dispatched what a better world this would be.

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About Bill Hayes

I have a very large sea shell collection; it's too big to keep at home, so I have left the collection scattered on various beaches around the world. Perhaps you've seen some it.
This entry was posted in History, Politics, Uncategorized, War & Peace and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Unfinished Business

  1. john zande says:

    I like your thinking.

    Just a note: Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech was delivered on the Abraham Lincoln which was sitting just off the coast of San Diego, making the whole event even more pathetic.

    • Bill Hayes says:

      Ooops, thank you for the correction. Yes, even more pathetic. I always assumed he put himself in harms way to make that speech. Later the White House claimed that Bush didn’t even know that banner was there and the ship’s company had erected it. some Tea-break.

      • john zande says:

        I remember that excuse, something about the ship’s company celebrating the end of something or another… Nothing to do with Iraq, oh no.

        Short wars though, I love the idea. Time-limited conflicts.

  2. reasonablyliberal1 says:

    I think things COULD have been different and gone even worse. The Iraq war could have been a thirty-years war. It still could, if others were in power. I don’t think Obama wants it.

  3. Vikas says:

    Good going Bill!

  4. Thanks Bill, another great observation

  5. janets123 says:

    Just a minute observation of my own, after reading your post. If crazy terrorist groups like Hamaas had any sense, they would not start wars with guys with big guns, or if they did make such a mistake, would quickly realize they are out-gunned and give up. Like the silly sultan in your example, they don’t know when they are defeated. They have to be annihilated and I don’t suppose that time has yet arrived. Agree with you–I am sick and tired of our many involvements in the Middle East!

  6. John says:

    Wars are not only lasting longer, there seems to be an ever-increasing number of them. I remember President Eisenhower’s warnings against the encroaching “Military/Industrial Complex.” Now I suspect that wars might be fought more for bottom line profits than for ideological agendas.

    Look at how far over this globe our forces are spread today and tell me that it isn’t going to get a lot worse before it gets any better.

    This ISIS thing has me up a wall with concern. What is going to happen with that? And what about the new Russian incursions? Is that a territorial grab or what? That looks to me like a potential for a third world war if everybody isn’t very careful.

    • Bill Hayes says:

      Thanks for dropping by. Actually if you do a google search you’ll find that over the last 100 years the frequency of wars has been about constant.

      As for ISIS they do present an enormous problem in the middle east, but any notion that they are massing on the US boarders and are coming up through the drains in London is ludicrous. yes they may set off some bombs. In WW2 40,000 Londoners were killed in the blitz and over a million homes destroyed. We are still here.

  7. Read an article somewhere describing the next major superpower conflict. The winner will be the one with the cleverest bots, disabling infrastructure and missile guidance systems without a shot being fired.

    • Bill Hayes says:

      Yes, well of course, I am still waiting for my Robot. I am still doing the dishes, and taking out the rubbish. I was promised this would be all done by machines.

      Mind you I am very impressed with Drone bombers. Did you know they only ever kill terrorists? Amazing how they work. Thanks for dropping by again.

    • My EMP is faster’n your goofy bots …. Nani nani boo boo 😀 Mwahaha (that is supposed to be evil laughter)

  8. Over By Christmas http://www.williamdaysh.com/ Author a friend of mine. The book is historically well researched, all historical references are correct and documented. The fiction story line is well done and loosely follows an actual family. Bill is an ex-pat living in Spain.

  9. I enjoyed the cricket episode…though the appropriateness of those excused boots exhorting others to join up has always been questionable.

    As to wars….the EU and USA would do well not to encourage Ukraine to annoy Putin….

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