I was recently reading Richard Holmes book “Soldier“. I came across this small gem which I thought was sobering.
“Nevertheless, for many men of 1914, military service represented, as it has since 1660, a real improvement on the lives they left behind. Adrian Gregory is right to observe, in his important study of British Society in war, that “No view of the horrors of the First World War can be complete without a sense of the horrors of the pre-war peace”. The death rate amongst the children of the “generally sober, thrifty and generally employed” working-class families was one in four, and this was “roughly double the death rate of adult males in the armed forces 1914 – 1918″. The mining village of Sengennydd lost 440 men and boys almost 10 percent of its population, in a pit disaster in 1913. No British community suffered loss on this scale during the war”.