WHILE walking through Notre Dame cathedral in Paris last week, I stopped to read a small memorial on one of the pillars. It read, 'To the glory of God and to the memory of one million dead of the British Empire who fell in the Great War, 1914-1918 and of whom the greater part rest in France.'
And since it's Remembrance Sunday tomorrow, I thought the words were worth sharing.
I've found myself thinking quite a lot about the war lately. My favourite war - the one I spent chunks of my childhood re-enacting with other boys - was always World War II.
This was entirely normal for the 1970s, when all small boys used to subscribe to Battle Picture Weekly and sundry other comics that were devoted to the importance of killing. My own favourite was The Victor, which charted the exploits of Hun-slaying heroes like Joe Bones the Human Fly, a young soldier who could scale any cliff (but only in his bare feet, peculiarly). Then there was Braddock VC, a maverick bomber pilot who was never happier than when dodging angry swarms of Focke-Wulf 190s over the Ruhr in his Lancaster. And who can forget - not I, for one - Lieutenant Commander 'Killer' Kennedy?
But the heroes of The Victor were shandy-drinking bed- wetters compared to those who bestrode the pages of Warlord, which was my brother's comic of choice. The eponymous hero, Lord Peter Flint, was Britain's top secret agent (codename: Warlord). But even he couldn't match the heroics of Union Jack Jackson. UJJ, as he was known to us and his comrades-in-arms, was a tea-drinking British soldier who fought with the US Marines in the Pacific. …