The Guns of August

On 28 June 1914, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist. On 31 July 1914, as discussed yesterday, Jean Jaurès was assassinated in Paris by a French nationalist. Exactly one hundred years ago, the great powers of Europe were beginning their mobilisation for war. Austria declared war on Serbia on 28 July, Russia and Germany declared war on each other on 1 August, Germany and France, ditto, on 3 August, and Britain entered the war the following day.

Attention is rightly focused right now on the start of the war, but my post here concerns its end. The photograph [EDIT: no longer available on this site], taken from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, is of my great-uncle Lt. Leonard Stopford Brooke‘s grave in Bad Bergzabern cemetery. He served in the RAF, and was reported missing on 25 September 1918, a few weeks before the Armistice in November. He was 23 when he died. I think he is one of only a very small number of British casualties from the war to be buried in German soil.

Brooke’s grave is the one on the left; next to him is 2nd Lt. Alexander Provan, from Glasgow, who was also in the RAF, and who was 19 when he was killed.

3 thoughts on “The Guns of August”

  1. my great great uncle was Alexander Provan from Yoker Clydebank have been looking for more info on him recently

  2. I had been searching for information about my great uncle, Alexander Provan many years ago. It was lovely to read your article and find out that he served with your great uncle. It sounds that they were in action in the same aircraft and they share an unusual resting place in a civilian cemetery. I have a very vague memory of a photograph of his headstone which my mother had. Unfortunately, I no longer have the photograph, but from memory the headstone looked different to the one which is there now. It maybe that the commonwealth graves commission replaced the original headstone with their standard ones.

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