Museum volunteer Ian Gregory explores Buxton’s military past using a postcard from the museum collection:
Several of the postcards we have at the Buxton Museum show military scenes. One that caught my eye shows soldiers marching on Terrace Road in Buxton. They wear khaki uniforms and carry rifles over their shoulders. Kit bags swing from their hips. The postcard dates from 1910. It is addressed to a Mrs. K Morgan in Gloucester.
As I pore over this image, I think about the wider picture. When this photo was taken, Britain controlled a vast empire. Today this is controversial, but it cannot be changed now. There was a widespread feeling of national pride according to some, arrogance according to others. Four years later, when the First World War started, many British people expected a swift victory. After the conflict ended, it was described as the “war to end all wars”. Many were now shaken and disillusioned by the scale of loses and difficulty in securing victory. Perhaps Mrs. K Morgan had been on that emotional rollercoaster. Did she lose a loved one? If not, did she endure years of anxiety on account of a husband, brother or son?
There is a parallel here with our time, when the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991, some predicted that Russia and the west would become friends and allies. There were even some claims that we had come to the end of history. As I write, it is evident that things didn’t work out as hoped.
One hundred years ago, people hoped they had seen the end of war, but they hadn’t. Thirty years ago similar hoped were raised, now they too have been dashed. In many respects our lives are very different to those of our ancestors, yet some things haven’t changed much.