I have been reading Pat Barker's book, Regeneration. I saw the film with Jonathon Pryce and James Wilby several years ago. It is set in 1917 in an army mental hospital outside Edinburgh. Siegfried Sassoon, the war poet, has been sent there after making a protest against the continuation of the war. He comes under the care of Major Rivers, a gentle psychiatrist with an FRS for his studies on anthropology made in the South pacific. We meet several patients, among them Wilfred Owen, and explore their neuroses, all derived from the horrors of the front.
I was brought up on the war poets. They describe the horrors perfectly. I suppose you could ask why anybody is concerned about the 70 British soldiers killed this year in Afghanistan when in September 1917 102,000 British soldiers were killed on the Western Front. As I was reading the book I tried to think of what good came out of the first world war. I suppose you could say that the war poetry was one good thing.
Of course, many effective weapons first appeared or were significantly developed during this period: airplanes, tanks, bombing from the air, submarines and so on. But you could hardly think of these as great benefits for mankind. There were great advances in medicine, but proper blood transfusion and antibiotics had to wait for the second conflagration.
I've tried to think what good did arise. Here is my list.
Recognition that women could do the same sorts of jobs as men.
Social changes that made votes for women a reality.
The beginning of the end of the class system.
The recognition that war is hell.
Perhaps you, dear reader, can think of others.