Category: war is hell

                    “For one mad moment the wh…

                    “For one mad
moment the whole slaughter whirls like a circus around me“

“We had fancied our task would be different, only to find we were to be trained for heroism as
though we were circus ponies.”

All Quiet on the Western Front – A must-read
novel about WW1 German soldiers by German soldier and writer Erich Maria
– Illustration: symbolic illustration depicting German soldiers in a sad & grotesque circus procession; the front being a cage, and,
just like circus animals, the trapped soldiers having little
control over their life. @

                     ‘The spire of the cathedr…

spire of the cathedral, a wonderful thing of delicate lines and love’

we would cross the river and look back at the cathedral, high and beautiful
above the huddle of old, old houses on the quayside, with a faint light on its
pinnacle and buttresses and immense blackness beyond them.

builders of France loved their work,” said Palmer. “There was always war about
the walls of this cathedral, but they went on with it, stone by stone, without

stood there in a long silence, many times, and out of those little streets
below the cathedral of Amiens came the spirit of history to teach us the
nobility and the brutality of men, and their incurable folly, and their
patience with tyranny.

“When is it all going to end, Palmer, old man?”

“The war, or the folly of men?”

“The war. This cursed war. This bloody war.”

“Something will
break one day, on our side or the other. Those who hold out longest and have
the best reserves of man-power.”’

That day came
indeed on August 8 1918, a
black day of the German Army’, when for the first time, the coalition of
Allied nations fought under one strategic command, using tanks and air power to
push forward.

Text: 1918, British
reporter Philip Gibbs in Amiens – Now It Can Be Told – Photo: Amiens, a view of the
Cathedral from the river.

See all the international commemoration events in France @The United States WW1
Centennial Commission,
also on Facebook & Twitter

“Tuesday, July 23 1918 – This morning on…

“Tuesday, July 23 1918 – This morning one car had a narrow escape. A
shell fell just in front of it and a large éclat passed between the heads of
the driver and the assis seated beside him and entered the small window in the
front panel. The shell struck a wounded doughboy’s head as he lay on the
top stretcher. The driver and the assis were severely shell shocked. They sat huddled up next the wall of the dressing
station. They shuddered and trembled like leaves continually and when a gun shot or someone spoke
sharply to them they jumped as tho pricked with a pin.”

ambulance driver in the Chateau-Thierry sector, France – The Compensations of
–  Photo: 1918, an American medic
and a shell-shocked soldier at a
first aid station in France @  National Museum of Health and Medicine Archives


                                            “You’ve left the earth you knew for the moon”

road I took led me across a great plateau, the first part of which had been given
up in the great German retreat of last spring – the open country shows like a
pockmarked land. Nothing remains. You’ve left the earth you knew, for the moon.”

Waldo Peirce’s letter – Photo: 1918, Champagne region, France, aerial view of the
pockmarked land. La contemporaine.

“Couldn’t you give me something to relieve my …

“Couldn’t you give me something to relieve my pain? Just to relieve
my pain.”
There was always the same anxious whisper: “Oh, give me something
to relieve my pain.”

July 1918, France, American medic tending to wounded soldiers
The AEF in Print: An Anthology of American Journalism in World War I
Photo: July 19-20 1918, First Aid Post, Batlle of Soissons sector, American medic tending to
a wounded soldier.


                                            “A prisoner looks like such a harmless

 "There had been an attack and we saw 300
German prisoners brought in and taken to the General to inspect. I have to
confess to a feeling of irrational pity for these chaps. A prisoner looks like
such a harmless thing.“

July 1918, American Ambulance driver’s diary in France – Photo: July
1918,  France, a powerful photo of a wounded German prisoner. Text &
Photo @ the Amherst Black Cats’ Twitter feed

I want to go home. I don’t want to go to…

I want to go home.
I don’t want to go to the trenches no more,
Where the Whizz-bangs and Johnsons do rattle and roar.
Take me right over the sea,
Where the Allemands can’t bayonet me.
Oh, my!
I don’t want to die,
I want to go home.

Text: An Onlooker in France, 1917-1919 By Sir William Orpen

About this photo @ La contemporaine: this iconic and powerful photo was
taken on July 10th 1918, at the Ferme des Loges, Oise, France. But the
French government did not like it and censored it. Indeed,
this photo showed too much despair and exhaustion, feelings widely shared amongst
the French soldiers who had been fighting in this terrible war for almost 4 years.
This unforgettable photo and other WW1 censored photos were recently
featured in a superb exhibition & a book: “Images
interdites de la Grande Guerre” –

“Monday, july 8 1918 – Out to Maison For…

july 8 1918 – Out to Maison Forestière where the
Germans have been using considerable quantities of gas. The gas was mostly directed against the batteries in
the woods behind us and by the number of soldiers groping
blindly about the dressing station at Maison Forestière, it
was bad.

is an amassing of troops &
enormous amount of artillery being brought which
seems to indicate an attack on a large scale.”

American ambulance driver’s diary in Maison Forestière, Dampleux, in the Villers-Cotterêts sector, Aisne-Marne region, FranceThe Compensations of War – Photo: Summer 1918, North East France, American medic giving water to a gassed soldier.

Here, a very informative PDF document with great photos “American Operations in the Aisne-Marne Region,” from May to
August 1918.


                                                                 And I said a little prayer

Bill said: “as
soon as you pass the bridge go like the devil. It’s
hell on that road they’re shelling hell out of it.”
— Comforting words these and
my spirits rose accordingly. I hurriedly cranked my car saying a little
prayer that I would have the guts to go thru with it. As we left the poste we
could see them breaking on both sides of the bridge, sending up big clouds of
dust & smoke. I saw them but somehow
they didn’t seem to register on my brain. I saw them &
that was all. The road surely was being shelled. Shell holes,
branches & wires littered the road. Despite this, from the time I
said my prayer,
I had

the most peculiar feeling almost
of abstraction, the shells didn’t worry me in the least because something
inside me kept saying “you’re safe” “they won’t hit you” “don’t be afraid”. As
we dashed along the road, it seemed that I was
merely driving along a country road at home. A most peculiar feeling and I can’t
express just exactly what it was…

Friday, June 14 1918, near the front in Northern France, American ambulance driver’s diary – The Compensations of War. Photo: 1918, France, American ambulance dashing along the road.


                                          ‘Giant arms of electric light, searching the foe’

“Saturday, June 8 1918 – Last week
Paris has lived through seven frightening daysBig Bertha dropping shells on
the city daily and Gothas dropping bombs almost nightly. The other night as I
stood at my window, pieces of exploded French
shrapnel fell on the street below with the sharp, crackling noise of hail striking the pavement. Overhead the blackness of the night was pierced here and there by giant arms of electric light, French lights searching the foe. And
everywhere the firmament became incessantly illuminated by the sudden twinkling
of little stars—as the shells burst in the dark
night. And when the shell bursts its hundreds of bullets
and pieces scatter over a widespread area with sufficient
force to kill anyone they hit. From the ledge of my
window I gathered up a handful of shrapnel pieces varying in size from a .44 caliber cartridge to a pigeon
egg; and then I hurried into bed, in a corner of the room as far
from the window as possible. The fire of the French
barrage made sleep difficult so I read until 1am when the
Berloque announced that the air battle was over.”

American diplomat in Paris – The War Diary
of a Diplomat
– Illustration: 1918, Paris Under Fire