The Communication Trench

27 Mar

In a bid to keep things hopping here, I shall periodically have cause to turn to the excellent work of Will R. Bird, one of Canada’s most active veterans of the war and an heroic friend to the veterans’ movement in this country in the decades after.  While he is now best-remembered for his remarkable memoirs (including Ghosts Have Warm Hands), his unflagging efforts — both literary and practical — in the 1930s, 40s and 50s helped ensure that the sacrifices offered up by so many of those in his generation would not be forgotten by those to come.

From 1933 onward, Bird produced a series of regular features for various magazines that recounted interesting anecdotes and provided fascinating statistics from throughout the war.  The following is fairly emblematic of the former; when next I turn to bird, it will be for an example of the latter.

In the meantime:

In those last, chilling, sloppy days of March, ’17, a draft came to us at Dumbell Camp, and with them was the most doleful, cheerless young man I saw in the army.  He was so dispirited that he never tried for an extra issue of hot tea, or cared where he slept.  The sergeant, after vain attempts at rousing him, told our officer about hm, and that worthy came in the morning as the dismal lad sat outside his crowded bivvy in a fine drizzle.

“Come, come, my boy,” said the officer after several fruitless attempts to gain interest, “Tell me what you were before you enlisted?”

The boy raised slowly his saddened features.

“I was ‘appy, sir,” he croaked.

More to come later.


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