The experiences of a pacifist in the Royal Garrison Artillery.
even assert that the army was not so bad after all. A slight deficiency in the rations would arouse fierce indignation and mutinous utterances. An extra pot of jam in the tent ration-bag would fill us with the spirit of loyalty and patriotism. If an officer used harsh, brutal words we would loathe him and meditate vengeance. But if an officer spoke to us kindly or did us some slight service we would call him a "brick," a "toff," or a "sport," and overflow with sentimental devotion. It was not difficult to please us, indeed it was often touching to observe for how small a thing the men would show the most ardent gratitude and work enthusiastically so as to show their appreciation. If those with high authority in the army had only realized the tremendous influence just a little kindness and consideration had on the morale of the troops, much hatred and misunderstanding, much useless suffering and humiliation would have been avoided.
Not that the officer was any worse than the common soldier. In fact, he was
This is an amazing book. Why isn't it famous? For a book published in 1920 it is an extremely graphic depiction of what life was really like on the Western Front in the First World War. The author pulls no punches. The dialogue is realistic. The part that really hit me was the description of the field hospitals where the staff have become so blasé about amputating endless numbers of limbs, etc., that they do so while laughing and joking and looking forward to more exdtreme or interesting wounds to deal with.