Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Lest we forget

The use of chemical weapoins in war is clearly abhorrent and the issue is once again attracting world attention due to the recent events in Syria. I am also aware that there has been and is genuine discussion as to who exactly has been responsible for the release of such chemicals in that conflict. Is it the Assad government or is it agents of other powers who wish to discredit the authorities in Damascus?

In its current response the US, the UK and the G7 together can sound very high minded - and doubtless think themselves so to be - but before we all get too self-righteous a few little history lessons might be worthwhile.

There is an apparently evenhanded background article on the use of such weaponry down to the present day which also shows how widespread it has been and which can be seen here

I understand that one reason given that the Germans did not use chemical weapons in the Second World War was the fact thet they were still heavily dependent on horses as draught animals - and getting horses to wear gas mask is more difficult than it is for humans.

From that a quick search on the Internet about one champion of freedom who was not squeamish at all about such methods yields the following posts about Winston Churchill's attitude.

Winston Churchill's shocking use of chemical weapons is from The Guardian in 2013 and is linked to Winston Churchill's shocking use of chemical weapons from  thetruthseeker.co.uk in April  2016.

Alleged British use of chemical weapons in Mesopotamia in 1920 is from Wikipedia, hile from the Daily Telegraph there is Winston Churchill 'authorised use of chemical weapons' about the anti-Bolshevik campaign in Russia in 1920

The Independent has Like-Assad-Churchill-liked-to-stockpile-poison-gas
What is described by its publisher as Winston Churchill's Secret PoisonGas Memo can be read  here.From a US Right wing source there is also  The Allies And The Use Of Gas In WWII - rense.com

Churchill is defended from the charges brought in the original Guardian article, not that successfully I think, by Richard M. Langworth in Leading Myths: “Churchill Advocated the First Use of Lethal Gas”

The same author, who is an American Churchill scholar, writes on similar lineson his blog athttps://richardlangworth.com/poisongas

Now hindsight is, I know, on occasion, a dangerous thing - but it can also be a corrective to collective complacency about ourselves and our past.


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