“After that battle, America led every big Allied campaign of the Second World War. Rommel’s defeat in the desert was the last time when the British army masterminded a military endeavour of historic proportions”.
The occassion marked 70-years since the Battle of El Alamein in the western Egyptian desert and Mr. Peter Watson, at 92, is the only British veteran to have shown up for the rememberance ceremony. I recall that 75-years was the last commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg by the veterans who actually fought there (1938), so age and human frailty now makes any subsequent event for the veterans of El Alamein seem unlikely. Of the 120,000 British, Commonwealth, and imperial soldiers who fought there, they are now almost all gone. The torch has been passed and one only wonders if the sons and daughters of those men will continue to mark the occassion.
The preceding comment made me sit back and think a bit. Britain won the war, but lost its empire along with much of its power and influence. In less than 20-years, the British Empire, largest in the world, upon which the sun famously never set, was over; swept away by the Winds of Change. Of course India and Pakistan departed the British Empire in 1947, but it was British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan who delivered the famous address now known simply as the “Winds of Change” speech that in February 1960 signalled Britain’s intention to cast off the remainder of its empire. The majority of it was gone by the late 1960’s. Rhodesia, it’s last significant mainland territory, was gone in 1980. The last jewel in the imperial crown, Hong-Kong, was handed back to China in 1997. So in less than 70-years since Britain emerged victorious from the war, its Empire is now reduced to a few acres in the Carribbean, Bermuda, and some scattered rocks in the world’s seas. Some would argue that it is reduced to the home counties surrounding London.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
The Linked article:
Source: The Daily Telegraph (U.K.)