We are told that President Jean-Claude Juncker, currently top shape shifter, of the European Commission, instructs those in favour of Leave in the Referendum on Europe, should visit war graves because it would change our minds.
The inference is that any Leave voter is ignorant of the sweep of European history, I suspect that this is far from being the case. My own may not be entirely typical but there are certainly many, very many, in favour of Leave who are better informed than he thinks and perhaps than he is.
The Memorial above is at Thiepval. There are remembered and buried many of my grandfather's comrades who fell in The Battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916, good decent working men. I knew him well, he survived, just, but could not know them, but I did know some of their widows and other family. I have been there and to many other War Grave locations.
Also, I have read through many of the War Diaries of the units in question as well as formal study of the War and its consequences. There is nothing like the detail and the primary sources to make sure that you understand the bigger picture and can judge what later historians and people have to say.
As for the Second World War, well, I was there, albeit huddled in the air raid shelters. Not only were a number of close family involved, but some, much loved and respected, lost. For a time, a mile away, we welcomed the US 82nd Airborne Division, including the man who hung from the spire at St. Mere Eglise on 6 June 1944, along with Polish airmen, paratroops and army.
Later, for a short time I was part of the Army of Occupation before we became guests of Germany in 1955. I was on the General's staff of the Desert Rats, 7 Armd Div, working for men who won good M.C.'s in the war. My second General commanded a Brigade at Arnhem, and dear old Monty, courteous to a fault, pitched up once for a chat where my job was to deal with the files.
Before and after that I was doing History, European and International, an interest maintained. I fear my reading of the past differs strongly from that of the President. Then there is the longer past, one trip made was to follow Wellington's line of march in the Peninsular War. We must never forget Napoleon, even if the President has.
For me many wars occur because power comes into the hands of unchecked and arrogant men who blunder about, lie, deceive, do not go carefully into that dark night of war and seek to hold or gain more power by inflicting damage and misery on untold numbers of others. All too often, once embarked on their mission of land, wealth and power seeking war becomes inevitable.
In short, systems of rule and authority all too like that of the EU of the present, a corrupt governing authority that does not account for its spending and costs, brooks no opposition, relentlessly interferes where it should not and listens only to the major power and money brokers, many of whom are criminal and few honest.
The President is a fantasist, who with others at his side believes in the strange unreal world that has been created out of the weakness and division of others. What I see is a Europe in decline, in hock to others who do not like us and open to others who hate us.
Unluckily, in the UK we have some leading politicians who are attracted by the fantasies and believe that they and their financial minders will gain by it and are unworried by who will be the losers and to what extent.
Empires, history tells us, rise and fall. Some last long others do not. Normally, long periods of conflict and war, chaos, poverty, disease and misery follow collapse.
Perhaps, the President during his tour of war graves, might take in Poitiers, Crecy and above all Agincourt and then finish at Waterloo, close to home. We were there.