“Downton Abbey” — 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month

The war ended last week on “Downton Abbey.”  Like many of you, I was questioned about the war with friends mostly asking, “Is that what the trenches were really like?”

Yes, sometimes they looked like this:

Waiting to go over the top.

But sometimes they looked like this:

British trench in the snow.

Or this:

Up to their knees in water.

Or this:

Rats, lice, decomposing remains — we can argue that this was PBS and not HBO, and the story mostly took place on the homefront. But here’s what they left out of the story on homefront:

One night during the time my brother was serving in Vietnam, my parents gave a dinner party. The guests had all arrived, everyone was chatting, and then the doorbell rang. My father says he could not bring himself to touch the doorknob. He is not a fanciful man, yet he says he felt so strongly that there was death on the other side, that if he opened the door, he would see a man in uniform come to tell him that his oldest boy had been killed.

British families lived with that sickening dread for 4-1/2 years. Every knock at the door, every time the phone rang, a telegram — some women never opened The Telegram. Families found them later tucked behind His Picture on the mantel.

The terrible fear, and the terrible cost. That’s what “Downtown Abbey” was missing.


2 thoughts on ““Downton Abbey” — 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month

  1. Your photos and explanation put the trench scenes nicely into context, Susan. I thought the trenches were a little antiseptic, myself (no rats or knee-deep water). Not a bad job, though.


  2. hell on earth is about as good as the description gets……………………it must have been awful…….no wonder the likes of hitler and his generation were insane………………….family members of mine were killed during the somme offensive………….obviosly id never met them…………….but i remember them in anycase……………..i feel the world in general has not learned the lesson as they do not know what ww1 really was and what it means……….which means they are doomed to do it again..


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