Category: wednesdaywisdom

“God save the king. Gott strafe England, God t…

save the king. Gott strafe England, God this, God that and God the other thing. Good God!
said God, I’ve got my work cut out!”

WW1, British Poet J. C. Squire humorous verse making fun of the Germans’ “May God Punish England” – Photo: WW1, British humor at the front: in Sorny, France, a British heavy battery installed beneath a German “Gott strafe England“ sign, meaning “May God punish England”.

                                   ‘You know, …

                                   ‘You know, it doesn’t
do to take this war too seriously

was a great saying, a philosophy which had kept men sane. Without laughter,
somehow, anyhow, by any old jokes, we should have lost the war
long ago. The only way to avoid deadly depression was to keep smiling. And so, for laughter’s sake and to keep normal in abnormal ways of life, there was a great
unconscious conspiracy of cheerfulness among men.”

The 54th Infantry Brigade, 1914-1918: Some Records of Battle
and Laughter in France
– Photo: WW1, in Bazentin-le-Petit, Northern France, British soldiers’ big smile.

“Every man gets atta, dal and vegetables, as m…

man gets atta, dal and vegetables, as much as he wants.
and other things: four annas worth of ghee, and fruit of every kind; three
ounces of sugar, and of cigarettes as many as he likes; eight ounces of wheat, two onces of wine. But don’t you think that, simply
because it is to be had, Ram Carup Singh eats or drinks these things. Not
at all.”

England, Ram Carup Singh, a British Indian soldier’s letter home to India – Indian Voices of the Great War: Soldiers’ Letters, 1914–18
Photo WW1 Indian Soldiers preparing a meal. From the British Library awesome

                        “We are living like pa…

                        “We are living like paleozoic monsters, in a world
of muck and slime”

“September 11 1918 – Our headquarters are at Hamonville, not far from Seicheprey where the
26th Division had played a savage game of give and take with the Germans last Spring.The men are encamped in a forest of low trees,
a most miserable spot. It has been showering and wet all the week and we are
living like paleozoic monsters, in a world of muck and slime. The forest roads
are all plowed by the wagon wheels, and the whole place was really a swamp. I
made my rounds during the afternoon and got the men together for what I call a
silent prayer meeting. I told them how easy it was to set themselves right with
God, suggesting an extra prayer for a serene mind and a stout heart in time of
danger; and then they stood around me in a rough semicircle, caps in hand and
heads bowed, each man saying his prayers in his own way. I find this simple
ceremony much more effective than formal preaching.”

Father Duffy, chaplain attached to the Rainbow division, comforting his men before the Battle of Saint Mihiel.

Father Duffy Father Duffy’s Story: A Tale of Humor and Heroism, of Life
and Death With the Fighting Sixty-Nint
h – Photo: 1918, France, Rainbow
Division’s trucks in the mud. Missouri Over There

See National Archives
OFFENSIVE, SEPT. 10-25, 1918”

‘The company kitchen we see well-hidden is one…

‘The company kitchen we see well-hidden is one of hundreds through these
woods, each kitchen set up to feed scores of men. And these men, eating here in
the shaddow of French forests, represent every state and city, almost every town
and village and cross-road of the United State of America. Never before in the
history of our nation was such a representative, homogenaous gathering of
Americans as there. North and South, East and West, are welded together in the
fight for democracy.’

1918, the Keystone View Company – Photo: August 1918, American field kitchen in the woods of Alsace, France.

“These dear old peasants will never forget our…

“These dear old peasants will never forget our help in cutting up
beets for their stock, threshing out their grain, cutting their wood and cleaning the streets … Nor will we forget these
kind people, and the sacrifices they made for us every day.”

WW1, Meuse, France, American soldier’s
memoir – History of the Seventh Field Artillery (First Division, A.E.F.) – Photo: Harvest time
in the Meuse, France – Smoke break for American soldiers and French peasants
gathering the harvest together. La Contemporaine

“Happy! So happy to see trees again and shade …

“Happy! So happy to see
trees again and shade – The sector is calm, and picturesque with all these
trees, fresh water springs, and abandoned vegetable gardens where the men pick
tons and tons of good things!”

WW1 French soldier’s memoir – 1914-1918, quatre années sur le front: carnets d’un combatant
Photo : August 15 1918, French soldiers walking through the Ribecourt
sector that the German just abandoned. La Contemporaine

Note: on
August 14-15 1918, the important capture of Ribecourt, six
miles southwest of Noyon, brought the French to the
gates of Lassigny. Through Ribecourt lies an open
route up the Oise valley to Noyon—a route by
railroad & Canal. The French
& allies now have almost entire control of the Thiescourt plateau. Map of this area.

“Maybe cats do not die then, they say they hav…

cats do not die then, they say they
have nine lives, I do not know… but most men die like animals, not men.”

From Ernest Hemingways short story “A Natural History of the Dead” a cynical
and poignant recollection of his time as an Ambulance driver & journalist on
the Italian front in WW1

‘Our cat was struck by a shell-fragment—fairly…

‘Our cat was struck by a
shell-fragment—fairly and squarely wounded in action; so the men marked a wound
chevron with indelible ink on puss’s shoulder, and are doubly proud of their

August 1918, France – The 55th Artillery in the
American Expeditionary Forces, France, 1918
– Photo: 1918.  American officers
holding a kitty in Cateau-Cambresy, Somme,
France. The pictorial record of the 27th division

“We all looked at one another, someone laughed…

“We all looked at
one another, someone laughed, and we all joined! There are occasions in life
when it is wise to laugh.”

WW1 British
Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse in France – Olive Dent, A VAD in France – Photo:
WW1 British VAD nurses laughing. The St Edmundsbury Chronicle