The 70th anniversity of D-Day the centenary of the First World War pinpoint 2014 as a year of wartime nostalgia. Amongst fabulous stories of rebel veterans absconding from their care homes to Normandy and colourful re-enactment celebrations, one of the quieter questions being bartered around is 'do kids really know what's going on?.'
Before the Great War, Armed Forces rugby had to fight against the success of soccer - in 1906 the Army and Navy had 758 'Association' teams. A rugby Challenge match first held in 1878 was revived in 1905, became 'Official' in 1907 and an annual fixture in 1909, endorsed by no less than Admiral Lord Jellicoe...
In the 19th century the very British game of rugby football was adopted successfully throughout her Dominions; by 1906, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were regularly beating us at our own game. In the years preceding the First World War, rugby tried to conquer territories closer to home with expeditionary forays into Continental Europe.
Much recent writing on the Great War has veered between the highest-ranked and the humble: a determined rehabilitation of Haig at one end, with plain-spoken voices from the ranks at the other, whether individual Tommies who survived to tell their story, or whole battalions of 'Pals'. Lost in all this has been the story of the men arguably most responsible for British obduracy and eventual success - the officers of the line.
It began with a missing war memorial at a rugby club. Rosslyn Park, founded in 1879 had a clubhouse plaque to those killed in the 'Second Great War', including Prince Obolensky, England's Russian winger who crashed his RAF Hurricane in 1940. Nothing existed for the first Great War, 1914-18. Why no memorial to them?
Like smoke drifting across no man's land as the sound of the guns and the mortar finally fell quiet, the Christmas truce of 1914 has been shrouded by the mists of time. A historical event which occurred early in the First World War and one many of us are familiar with; yet it has the feel and texture of legend as much as fact.
World War Two has become an epic of nostalgia entirely disconnected from the cause of anti-fascism, the sacrifices made by the Red Army on the Eastern Front once again hidden from history. Stalingrad, forgotten, scarcely meriting a mention in the mainstream media despite its fixation with all things WW2.
Despite opposition to the Afghanistan mission, the public holds their Armed Forces in high esteem and understands what is potentially at stake in the campaign. We can therefore be fairly confident that on this Remembrance Sunday, the efforts of the UK's Armed Forces troops, and those we have lost, will continue to be warmly remembered, and appreciated, by the British public.
It's impossible to know even a fraction of the personal stories, or the tales of individual acts of patriotism and valour that went on in those four horrendous years, and with the death of Harry Patch in 2009, the First World War has now all but passed out of living memory. But that doesn't mean that we can't be grateful for the collective, incalculable sacrifice that was made so that we've got freedom now.