As with plenty of battles, when the fighting dies down and shooting stops, the reasons for starting the conflict in the first place seem to get lost amid the thunder flashes and wiz-bangs.

In the war of words between Education Secretary Michael Gove and Baldrick, the conflict will probably be short lived, certainly over by next Christmas, but then they always say that.

Michael Gove fired the first salvo, you might recall, when he called on schools to stop using ‘left wing’ propaganda to explain the causes and battle strategies of the First World War and, well, blame Germany. In his essay he pointed to the practice in some schools of showing episodes of the successful BBC trenches comedy series Black Adder Goes Forth to help pupils understand the four-year-long war that claimed some 15 million lives.

With its emphasis on bungling generals and silly toffs and the attempts by the series’ anti-hero played by Rowen Atkinson to avoid going over the top at all costs, the programme presented a skewed, left-wing, picture of a war that was in fact necessary, said Mr Gove, to prevent a brutal, totalitarian Germany from conquering all of Europe.

It didn’t take long for the show’s other huge star – the rat-like Baldrick with his famous ‘I have a cunning plan’ catchphrase played by Tony Robinson – to return fire, claiming the programme was fitting fodder for the young troops.

Now Sir Tony, the presenter of Time Team, Labour activist and all-round funny bloke, felt Mr Gove was turning his big guns on the wrong targets. He was quickly supported by Labour’s opposition spokesman for Education the oh-so-young Tristram Hunt, who more or less said the Germans had received a bad press and Britain was as much to blame as anyone else in what was a toffs versus toffs blood-letting where the little people paid the price for the greed, ambition and sheer folly of the European upper classes.

The question of who was responsible for starting the war, what would have happened if Britain had sat by when neutral Belgium was invaded, and could the battles have been fought without so much loss of life, have troubled historians and politicians for a 100 years, of course.

My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that Germany must take the lion’s share of the blame, that the image of the brave British Tommy being a lion led by officer class donkeys is tripe

A British general died at the front for every week of the war. More officers were killed as a percentage of fighters due to the fact they led from the front with little more than a whistle and a revolver. We should be wary of looking back at decisions and actions taken a century ago with modern eyes and the benefit of hindsight.

Certainly my own Tommy grandfather, who was shot cutting the wires for an assault in Flanders aged just 19, survived to name his son Douglas after his commanding officer, Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig who he was proud to serve under. It’s why my middle name is Douglas also.

Granddad was a tough cookie who worked as an engineer on the Midland Red busses after the war, served as a fire warden during the Second World War, and did not suffer fools gladly, as they say. He had no love of the upper classes, but never spoke ill of his officers, those in the trenches or back at headquarters, in all the years I knew him. His generation had no doubts the Germans were a foe that had to be beaten.

But the guns will continue to roar on the subject.

What appears to be lost in the smoke of battle, however, is the question more pertinent to us today: what are our schools doing using TV comedy programmes to teach children the facts about historic events?

Are we really to understand that instead of sticking to historical records, where naturally there is some interpretation to be made, students are researching how life went on in the trenches by sitting in front of videos of Rowen Atkinson and Baldrick hatching plans to outwit the witless Captain Darling? It seems so, as no one as yet has come forward to refute this part of Mr Gove’s concerns.

Perhaps this is now the norm. No doubt, as one wag here in the office suggested, lessons on the American Civil War are based on screenings of Gone With the Wind. Perhaps studies of life in ancient Rome include screenings of the sit-com Plebs or Up Pompeii?

And if history, then why not other subjects? The Big Bang Theory would make a fine substitute for science classes, An Idiot Abroad to replace geography, and what better way to study business than a series of Only Fools and Horses?

In the current war of words, however, I’m putting my money on Blackadder. He may not have a cunning plan for victory, but when it comes to going over the top too many of us today see the chap who sits back in the trenches as the hero and wish to forget the heroic sacrifices made by those who died to keep us free to watch whatever sit-com we wish.