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August 14 : The departure
Scenes from the frontline and the from the back of the front
Soldiers on leave and the civil world
At all costs ...
The anguish
The pain and the horror
The Victory
Back to the Front


Among the authors listed in my bibliography, some engraved in my memory sentences that I will never forget. Others left an athmosphere, a diffuse but very personal feeling. Lastly, there are beautiful literature phrases, or descriptions which seemed particularly right to me.

Creating this site is for me an occasion to go back and browse quickly my WW1 books collection, and I must admit that very often I could not prevent myself from entirely read again some of those works. During those lectures, I collected the following quotations, hoping that some of them will be able to move your soul as deeply as they did to mine, or at least will give you the desire to read the book from which they are taken.

August 14 : The departure

If there is just one – short – period for which all the witnesses are unanimous, it undoubtly the first days of the conflict. The majority of the belligerents took the way of the war 'A flower in the gun of their rifle', the head full glorious dreams and adventure. Rush at the defaitists ! Rush at the pacifist ! Death for Jaurès... But a few ones, more lucid, smelled in the air, something like an odor of drama.

"And late in the night, thinking of all these boys who buckled their bag, with all these moms cooking hard-boiled eggs, I felt asleep, eyes full of tears, as Lucien who was to awake as a philosopher".

"L’Humaniste à la Guerre" (August 1914 in Autun - Burgundy) - Paul Cazin

They said to the German: 'Leave, for the fresh and merry war! Nach Paris and God mit uns, for Gross Deutschland' And the heavy peaceful German, who takes all with a serious mind, shook up for the conquest, changed themselves into wild animals.

They said to the French 'We’re under attack. This is the war of the Right and the Revenge. To Berlin !' And the peaceful French, the French who take nothing with a serious mind, stopped their little stock-holders dreamings to go to fight. (...) Twenty million, all of them with sincere faith, all in agreement with their God and their Prince... Twenty million imbeciles... Just like me !"

(...) Vingt millions, tous de bonne foi, tous d'accord avec Dieu et leur Prince... Vingt millions d'imbéciles... Comme moi !"

!" "La Peur" (August 14) - Gabriel Chevallier

"It all starts just like a feast."

"La Peur" (August 14) - Gabriel Chevallier

"We all know well that no other war was presented to us under more happy premices (...). If we had the quarrelsome heart, if we were not deeply attached to the cause of civilization and peace, if we were not the people who is always dreaming not to spread the devastation in Europe, but to propagate the happiness, how wouldn't we test the powerful temptation of the war? (...) If it comes, we will greet it with an immense hope."

"Le Matin" (Newspaper), August 2, 1914

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Scenes from the frontline and the from the back of the front

Between two fights, or two periods on the frontline, the life was made of in long transfers, exhausting stages, boring exercises, unpopular inspections, uninteresting drudgeries, visits to the cabaret or the brothel, idle days... It is sometimes hard to imagine that for the majority of the actors of this war, there was really few attacks with bayonnets, but much more time awaiting for the relief in the mud of a shelter, sinking under the shells, or on relief in second line or even on the back of the front.

"The train was still running, carting to the war a new mouthful of men"

"La Percée" - Jean Bernier

"And the regiment limped along, leaving ‘Poilus’ in the ditches. The soldier, before renouncing, throws a shout of spite, an insult; the officers, exhausted, have no more courage to make remarks. They turn their anxious eyes towards their troops that are melted and disbanded.

This is not a military formation anymore, this is a pitiful caravan that trails its great misery. A fine rain falls, weighing down the clothing, the bags and the haversacks."

"Les Suppliciés" - Naegelen

"Spoon grenades were distributed to them at the last hour. No officer knew their operation."

" Les Suppliciés " (September 26, 1915 on the Souain Hill) - Naegelen

"Then, (the bombers) had brought their gun. It was a very respectable museum piece, a kind of a small bronze mortar that carried, engraved on its belly clamping plate, its dates and places of birth : 1848, French Republic, Toulouse.

(...) It made a terrible noise and, having fired, the mortar jumped of fear. One saw the whirling ball describing an immense parabola and it fell where it wanted, into the wood, acclaimed by the ‘boches’ (jerries) who, I really think, shouted ‘Bravo !’. It sometimes bursted.

(...) (the bombers) had gone, leaving us with their wonderful mess and a baroque and inoffensive weapon, a kind of a large sling or balista made with tire rubbers and wood levers. With this instrument one could launch grenades : the first who tested it had died of it."

"Les Croix de Bois" (the beginnings of the crapouillots - 1915) - Dorgelès

"They know, those bitches, that the ‘Poilus’, the real poilus from the trenches, are good customers, while the intendance shirkers, pioneers and headquarters members, confined in Châlons, come to the brothel to see and laugh only. (...) The prostitute has no more reason, now that he is trapped, to stay with this man for a long time, this poor devil who did without bad wine and cigarettes for entire weeks, in order to be able to possess her body a few seconds.

She does not show any feeling anymore, she takes back all the ‘mon chou’, ‘mon chéri’, and all the kisses. Other customers are waiting for their time to come, so she gets rid of him hastily. His love hunger so quickly alleviated, Jacques is disappointed and sad."

" Les Suppliciés " (back of the front 1915) - Naegelen

"And that night, while thousands of tortured men whimper, Montmartre sparks. The orchestra starts a languorous tango, the couples entwin, the champagne bottles joyfullly explode, while, over there, a small urchin from the class 1915 beseeches for a little bit of water and a wounded soldier painfully crawls to a 150 mm shell hole to grab some greenish water.

Paris lightens, but near the Ladies’ Way, the invisible sky goes down on the men and seems to crush them."

" Les Suppliciés " (April 16, 1917 on the Aisne) - Naegelen

Troupes d'assaut occupant un entonnoir de mine, près de Ripont en Champagne - 1917

"One distinguishes fragments of lines made of these human points, which, leaving the hollow lines, move on the open country in front of the horrible unchained sky.

One can hardly believe that each one of these tiny spots is a human being of shivering and fragile flesh, infinitely disarmed in the space, full with soul, full with memories, and full with a crowd of images; one is dazzled by this cloud of men as small as the stars in the sky. Poor men like us, you unknown poor, it is your turn to give !

Another time it will be ours. Our turn tomorrow, perhaps, to feel the skies burst on our heads or the earth open under our feet, to be attacked by the extraordinary army of the projectiles, and to be swept by breaths of hurricane a hundred and thousand times stronger than the hurricane."

"Le Feu" (May 1915 in Artois) - Barbusse

"A british aircraft felt in the No Man's Land. Winterbourne saw the pilot who was still alive trying to escape from the remains. An enemy machine-gun was turned on him and he felt down flask on the edge of the fuselage. The English heavy artillery put into parts the remainders of the machine to prevent the enemy from copying its model."

"Death of a Hero" (On the front in Artois - 1918) - Aldington

"This very new trench was bordered with fresh earth, like a common grave. It was perhaps to save time that one had put us in it alive."

"Les Croix de Bois" (Before the attack - 1915) - Dorgelès

"Shit ! to dig again, always dig. Make your hole, dig your tomb a hundred times. Your skin, you have to defend it night and day. All the forces of destruction are combine to assassinate you : chemists composing new crafty and deadly gases ; pioneers preparing mines; aviators seeking your gatherings and your lines shooting or announcing them to the batteries; artillery men bent on harming you.

Your skin, you have to defend it from the shells that pursue you on the counterslopes, from the machine-guns that kill you by whole columns, from the sky even that spits iron and fire. Dig, my comrades, no rest for you, not respite for you, not sleep before the one that awaits you, rigid, cold, eternal."

"Les Suppliciés" (The Somme 1916) - Naegelen

"Obviously, there is nearly a thousand men taking shelter in this cave that defies the largest shells. And the oozing water, the urine, the excrements, all that constitutes this wretched mud in which they splash and flounder, and in which perhaps, resigned, they will lie down very soon. With the smell of this ordure, adds the pharmaceutical odor of the bandagings.

But anyway ! under the tunnel, we feel protected and the noise of the gunning comes deafened."

"Les Suppliciés" (Verdun 1916, the Tunnel of Tavannes) - Naegelen

"The true soldier will always take more merit for having lasted than being a hero (...) He knows the price of tiredness, and that he has often more merit to station than to go forward; to be crushed than to break a barrier. Question him, you will see, even in his rare minutes of fever, when he is finding in him a little of that old heroism, how little he is mistaken by himself :

- What sublime feeling agitated you while going up to the attack ?

- I only thought of removing my legs from this mud where they sunk.

- What heroic cry did you shout when you regained the hill ?

- We ressuscited Cambronne’s one (‘Merde’) because we thought we were done.

- Which impression of power did you feel after having controlled the enemy ?

- We groused, because the grub would not go up and that we would remain several days without wine.

- Isn't your first gesture to kiss each other and thank God ?

- We isolated to finally satisfy our nature."

"Verdun" (on the Mort Homme 1916) - Jubert

"They were young, strong, cheered up again by this life of movement and in clean air, and their desire for living was exasperated with the thinking of a possible death, perhaps very close; Pushing back this idea, they took the practice to enjoy the present, to benefit from every little rest, from every little happiness like a gift; They rediscovered simple pleasures that nobody thinks about anymore : to eat to satisfy their hunger, to drink to end their thirst, to sleep because of the tiredness of the day.

The hearts were satisfied with the most modest fortunes : a nice potato and herrings salade, a pan of hot wine, a rabbit that the section bought with their common money to put in stew, that was happiness for a whole day, happiness so full that I still feel it after thirteen years."

"Souvenirs du Temps des Morts" (Rest in Alsace) - A. Bridoux

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Soldiers on leave and the civil world

The short leaves... rare and so awaited moments where the soldier finds for a few days his yesterday environment and his family, or at least changes his mind during a short stay downtown. But the shift between the daily horror of the front and the civil life that was not continuing too badly hurted more than one fighter. And at the return to the frontline, a very surprising bitterness often accompanied a much more foreseeable sad nostalgia

"The eyes of his family members claimed to the public, by their glare: "Look at him, he has been made by us !" And thus, they had their share of the monstrous cake of glory towards which tended, frantic, and more especially for those who had tasted the less the war, the excited appetites of all the French."

"La Percée" - Jean Bernier

"However, broken down, I think : my sweetie, is it possible that, transposed by your poor small brain, the formidable earthquake that just shook up the old world is reduced to this cackling ! So you do not know that this hell is only at one hour of car drive from here, in the campaigns where we walked together, and that I arrive from there, and that I will return there ?

I have pictures in my head that could make you fall down in faint, memories to go insane. I have seen my opened comrades smoking in the air beside me. I have charged, death in my mouth, with this single thought: that something must be smashed, them or me, their mass or my flesh ! And here we go ! And burst those fucking eyes, hit those bastards with the heels, gun those rotten bellies and throw that stick in their bloody faces ...

I want to tell you that. I want to, in your pretty morning-room"

"La Guerre, Madame" - Paul Géraldy

" "The soldier raises his head. They are there, upright in front of him, a bit older. They look at him just as if they had lost him, as if they would like to make up for the lost time, to abolish the present. A marvellous flame lights their wet eyes. Does Jacques feel that he will never be able to return to them such a huge love ? Something strange and very sweet goes down in him, impregnating him to the bone ; He is not the glorious warrior anymore, he is just a child... Daddy, daddy ?" "

"Les Suppliciés" (First leave with family) - Naegelen

"The sun had gone, a black shadow expands in the house, it sweeps their happiness. They just have a little piece of blue sky left. The same apprehension hurts them, they spy eachother, they guess eachother without however acknowledging their common anguishes. In vain, they try to escape from the atrocious obsession of the departure.

The departure ! Jacques, it is for tomorrow.

He dares not look at his poor old mum and dad, fearing to see their sorrow. They mask their grief in an effort that crushes his heart."

"Les Suppliciés" (end of the first leave) - Naegelen

"He must leave... Will he come back ? He’s going to the death, and his mother is letting him go..."

"Les Suppliciés" (end of the first leave) - Naegelen

"- By the way, what is this red ribbon on your arm? Vaccination?
- No, company scout.
- What’s a company scout ? Not a decampor, I hope?
And Mr. Tubbe marks with a quiet laughter and shakings of head his satisfaction of this spiritual joke. Winterbourne does not smile.
I say, in some circumstances, we could very well decamp décamperait, if only we knew which way to go."

." "Death of a hero" (in short leave 1917) - Aldington

"- Don’t worry, we do not flee at war. we cannot...

- Ah! they cannot... But if they could ?

They look at me. I make a quick turn of their eyes.

- If we could ? Everybody would clear out ! (...) All, without exception, the French, the German, the Austrian, the Belgian, the Japanese, the Turkish, the African... All of them... If we could ? You may speak about an offensive to the rear, about a great ‘Charleroi’ in all the directions, in all the countries, all the languages... Quicker, at the head ! All, I tell you, all !"

"La Peur" " (near a nurse during convalescence 1915) - G. Chevalier

"- How irritating you are ! Please answer. We ask you what you did at war ?

- Yes ?... Er, well, I walked day and night, without knowing where I went. I made the exercice, passed the reviews, trenched, transported iron wires, earth bags, sentineled on the crenel. I was hungry having nothing to eat, thirsty having nothing to drink, sleepy not being able to sleep, cold not being able to warm my body, and had lice not always being able to scrape me... That’s it !

- Is that all ?

- Yes, that’s all... Or let’s say that’s nothing. I will tell you the great occupation of the war, the only one which counts : I HAVE BEEN SCARED."

"La Peur" (near a nurse during convalescence 1915) - G. Chevalier

"- Do you have good times, up there?

Suffocated, I look at this old pale clot. But I answer quickly, with blandness :

- Oh! yes, Sir...

His face opens out. I’m sure he’s about to exclaim : : "Ah! these good ‘Poilus’ !"

Then I add :

-... We have a lot of fun : every evening we bury our friends !"

"La Peur" (on short leave) - G. Chevalier

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"At all costs ..."

1914 had been an hecatomb. The vain offensives of 1915 sacrificed to the greedy 'communiqué' hundreds of thousands of young lives for tiny conquests too often measured in meters. The need for holding on at all costs in the volcanoes of 1916 that were Verdun and the Somme ended to consolidate the fighters with their idea that their life was sacrificed for the glory of the headquarters. And when 1917 drowned in blood the hopes of breaking the front on the Ladie’s Way and in Passchendaele, the despair was complete, and prepared the ground for the mutinies.

"In this colorless earth,
Under this colorless sky,
That watered the silhouettes,
It was necessary to attack

At three thirty.
"At three thirty,
the troops, at all costs..."
At all costs !
General, what did that cost to you ?"

"La Percée" - Jean Bernier

"I nibble at them...."

Maréchal Foch - 1915

"But, let me say, these deaths were not to die; France had nothing to do with to only make of their demise. But who, among the Heads, sunk in the gray trenches ?"

"La Percée" - Jean Bernier

"... because we do not want a victory that would suck the deaths as the mud of the battle fields."

"La Percée" - Jean Bernier

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The anguish

Every of the men that you can see on this terrible period old photographs, every of those who rest either in the earth of a common grave, immense military cemeteries or the humus of a humid wood was a unique human being with his thoughts, his memories, his emotions, his defects, his qualities. Confronted with the probability of their violent death in a wild and unhealthy environment, these twenty years old children underwent a terrible moral torture which was well the terrible physical sufferings inflicted to some of them. .

"Violent and violet night and dark and full of gold in some moments
Night of the men only
Night of September
Tomorrow the assault
Violent night ô night whose terrible deep cry
Was becoming more intense minute by minute
Nuit that shouted like a woman giving birth
Night of the men only"

"Désir" - Guillaume Appolinaire - 1915

"What ? So this would be war ? To await in a hole for an absurd death ?"

"Les Suppliciés" (First fight) - Naegelen

"In the morning, it was a premonition, an interior distress that awoke us. There was no noise anymore : a tragic silence, on the contrary. The section, dumb, was terrified, leant on Bréval who was listening, stretched out at its full length. Sitted on our litter, we looked at them.

– “What happens ?”, whispered Demachy..

– “They do not knock any more !... they must be stuffing the mine”.

My heart stopped suddenly, as if somebody had taken it in his hand. I felt something like a shiver. It was true, we could not hear them digging anymore, It was the end.".

"Les Croix de Bois" (Mine war in Berry-au-Bac - 1915) - Dorgelès

"Is this autumn or spring ? We walk on humid leafs. The white trunks of the birches tangle up with pleasure in front of us. The undergrowths tripped us up. We will never leave this wood.

It is raining, iron is raining. Each detonation is dreadful; each cry that follows it is dreadful; but the most dreadful is the second of silence during which I await this cry. Because there will be a cry, I know this. It is certain that somebody shouts under this blow....

And the cry goes up through the branches from which cold water drops are raining, dull or heart-rending, wild or plaintive, full with revolt or with reproach...

Where are we ? What time is it ? Is this the evening or the morning ? Is this spring or autumn ? I open my mouth as if the cry were to leave my chest. But in my chest, there is no heart anymore, I only have one handle of these rotted sheets on which we walk, we walk... but never leave this wood."

"L'Humaniste à la Guerre" (avril 1914 - "le Brûlé" wood) - Paul Cazin

"We enter in angony."

The attack is certain (...). Above all, I should not think... What could I consider ? To die ? I do not want to consider it. To kill ? It is the unknown, and I do not want to kill anybody. Glory ? You do not acquire any glory here, it is better to be behind the front. To advance one hundred, two hundreds, three hundred meters in the German positions ? I saw too much of that, changing nothing to the events. I have no hate, no ambition, no mobile. However I must attack (...).

I remember that I am twenty years old, the age that the poets are singing... "

"La Peur" (Before the attack) - G. Chevalier

"We drink alcohol, insipid for our taste like blood, burning the stomach like an acid. It is a repugnant chloroform to anaesthetize our spirit, which undergoes the torments of the apprehension, while waiting for the torments of the bodies, the autopsy by the sharp, the notched scalpels of the cast iron.

(...) Our future is in front of us, on this plowed and sterile ground where we will run, with our chest, our belly offered...

... We wait for the hour, where we will be nailed on the cross, abandoned by God, condemned by the men."

"La Peur" (Before the attack) - G. Chevalier

"A blast rushed on us again... I had gathered myself, the head between my knees, the body curled up, teeth tighten. My face contracted, my eyes half closed, I waited... The shells followed and followed, precipitated, but they were not heard, it was too near, it was too strong. With each blow, the dislocated heart jumps, the head, the bowels, everything jumps. We would like to make ourselves small, smaller, each part of us frightens, the members retract, the head, humming and empty, wants to enter in the torso, we are afraid, finally, atrociously scared... Under this thundering death, we are nothing more but one trembling heap, one ear watching for, one heart fearing...."

"Les Croix de Bois" (under a bombing in Artois - 1915) - Dorgelès

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The pain and the horror

The crosses and the stones of the military cemeteries are clean, the monuments well maintained. How to imagine the horror that these places commemorate ? Let us now hear the witnesses speak, let us listen to the survivors telling the inexpressible, and greet with respect and compassion the considerable effort that they had to make on themselves to live with these memories, or even worse, to tell them.

"...I died in Hell
(they called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight
and I was hobbling back; and then a shell.
burst slick upon the duckboards; so I fell
into the bottomless mud, and lost the light"

Siegfried Sassoon

"I come to you still trembling, like the blind man I was in the viscous trenches of the Hurlus, with a blind terror to decipher in the earth walls the pieces of bone, the crumpled skin, flowing as if leaving a bath, of these cold fists of the deads with which the ground was armoured, keeping us while we were awaiting our turn. .

Ô start of my flesh which hated to believe that it was a hand !

! Negation of my feet which brutally refused to walk on these stiff necks, these faces of swimmers turned on their back, where the curiosity, balancing the terror, hung this glued moustache, these sticky eyes, these two blue eyes."

"La Percée" - Jean Bernier

"Mothers, who always remind every shiver, every complaint of your small children, died in some fever ! how could you be satisfied with these explanations : "Died on the field of honor", "France" ?

How could you be so little curious about our angonies !

So, I tell you, you’re crying because of absences, not because of deaths; and the mud of the first winter, sea of pus, sticky quicklime that could corrode a corpse in one hour and digest it in one day, is a famous Léthé.

It is so necessary that they know that."

"La Percée" - Jean Bernier

"They said to me that my company had been removed. I went down to the second line shelters, accompanied by a wounded man and a drummer. People deviated in front of us. Several ones gave us something to drink. I saw some of our men, while passing, that the grave-diggers came to seek. I had no force left to feel sorry for them. But in front of the one I was steppin over, before leaving the last communication trench, I felt a malediction flame igniting in me.

The projectile had entered in this head and had worked there until it doubled its volume; then the shell splinters had gone out, carrying the two eyes with them, and leaving on the inflated cheeks cracks like stars. I knelt to tear off a scrap of hood from him and to cover this. But I thought that it was better that the sun saw that, and I would have liked to have arms strong enough raise him to the sky, and to show him to the universe."

"L'Humaniste à la Guerre" (avril 1915- Ailly wood) - Paul Cazin

"The deaths that they’re crying for, the mourning people did not see them dying; they did not hear their shout and did not panic in front of their wounds. They did not see their white faces where the tan becomes green."

"La Percée" - Jean Bernier

"Begging calls raise from the obscure plain: "Stretcher-bearers ! Stretcher-bearers ! ".A plaintive voice, weaker, overcomes, that softens, calls without rest: "Mommy ! Mommy !"

Nobody seems to care about it.

Who are they, these unfortunate men, bleeding, torn, lying right ont the inhospitable and desolated ground, and throwing in the inexorable night these distress calls ? Soldiers ? no ! Kids, poor kids, weak and disarmed, lost kids who, tired of to calling the help of the merciless cruelty of the humans, turn hopelessly to the even source of their life, and cry their mom, like if, across the devastated fields, she could hear them and lean on them."

"Les Suppliciés" (on the evening of September 25, 1915 in Champagne) - Naegelen

"Being born for slaughter, like a calf or a pig !"

"Mort d'un héros" (before going to the front 1916) - Aldington

"The complaint lowers, weakens, but there is still life, pitiful life and palpitating in this satanic nightmare.

He is over there, in the small post, buried to the chin, unable to shake its clay shroud, watching for each of these atrocious projectiles whose arrival makes you terrified, going down on you slowly.

And he will perhaps live for long hours - interminable centuries - this appalling torment until a bullet perforates his delirious brain, or a minen, simultaneously, destroys him and digs his tomb."

"Le Sel de la Terre" ('Minen' bombing on Verdun left bank - 1916) - Escholier

"Which, of the ‘boches 77’ or the French ‘75’ is shooting too short ?... The fire pack encircles us, bites us. The crushed crosses throw whistling stone pieces to us... The bombs, the grenades, the shells, the tombs themselves explode, everything bursts, it is an exploding volcano. The erupting night will crush us all...

... Help ! Help ! They are assassinating men !

"Les Croix de Bois" (a cemetery in the first line bombed in Artois - 1915) - Dorgelès

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The Victory

The official photographs of the time show scenes of happiness in the winners cities, and a sad dignity in Berlin. But before the feast, the soldiers tested, on November 11, 1918 at 11 hours, much more complex feelings...

"Eleven hours.

A great silence, a great astonishment.

Then a rumour fills the valley, another answers it from the front of it. It is a gushing of shouts in the naves of the forest. It seems that the ground exhales a long sigh. It seems that our shoulders are suddenly free from an enormous weight. Our chests are delivered from the anguish cilice : we are definitively safe.

This moment is connected to 1914. The life rises like a dawn. The future opens like a splendid avenue but an avenue bordered with cypress and tombs. Something bitter spoils our joy, and our youth grew very old."

"La Peur" (11/11/1918 close to Saint Amarin in the Vosges) - G. Chevalier

" I find that it is a victory, because I’m still alive....".

"Les Croix de Bois" (11 novembre 1918) - Dorgelès

"To exterminate them and rob the overcome nation of some territories and its commercial advantages ? Good. And then afterwards ? To continue to pullulate. It is necessary to be a great populous nation. And the overcome nation ? Imagine that they start to reproduce themselves more than ever. Oh ! to start another war then, then others, to take the habit of it! The decennial picnic of Europe, the picnic of corpses... "

"Mort d'un héros" (reflexions in the train which leads to the front 1916) - Aldington

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Back to the Front

The post-war years saw developing battle fields tourism, gathering veterans seeking their memories traces, widows and orphans researching the places that saw the beloved ones disappear forever, and curious ones wanting to feel by themselves the atmosphere of these damned places. These pelgrims sometimes expressed their feelings with a lot of eloquence...

"They came again, in 1933, to contemplate the earthy hill, close to the pond of Vaux, close to the place where they believe that their son was mown by the shooting of a machine-gun.

There is an old lady who seeks without weariness at the edge of this same dried water pond, the hardly known place where his son, an aviator, fell.

A quiet German killed himself with revolver ball, not far from the fort of Douaumont

"Verdun" (return to the front among the pelgrims) - Pierre Mac Orlan

"You go once in Verdun, you return in Verdun. It is impossible to escape from Verdun "

"Verdun" (return to the front among the pelgrims) - Pierre Mac Orlan

"Those who sleep in this embossed ground were humble ones.
. They did not employ these great words that are written, just as funeral wreathes, here and there on their tombs... "

"Verdun" - Pierre Mac Orlan

"I walked on this human ground like on the face itself of the fatherland."

"Chant Funèbre pour les Morts de Verdun" (a visit at Verdun after war) - H. de Montherlant

"In the hut, the coffins were piling; they are today nearly three hundreds. An ex-serviceman priest, here night and day, took the guard of this eternity. There, each morning, the mass is said.

(...) I will not forget, no, I will not forget this fresh wood odor - odor of barracks, of ambulance, odor of war... - where the sweetish perfume of the faded sheaves, while the pastor of the deaths told of which Golden Legend its hermitage became the heart. The three little children who communicated and took the host, sobbing on fathers who were not theirs; the mother and the godmother who came together; the two mothers who, on campbeds, spent the night in the middle of the coffins; and other children, and delegates from abroad and from provinces, and kings with their presents, as if they had seen, them also, a star... "

"Chant Funèbre pour les morts de Verdun" " (stay in the hut that preceded the ossuary of Douaumont) - H. de Montherlant

"The war, my old fellow, you know very well what it was, but, when we are dead, who will ever know ?

The war, my old fellow, it’s our buried and secret youth."

"La Guerre, mon Vieux" - Jacques Meyer

"Once again, the night fall down on the sector where all seems on the watch. I lit the lights of my car and the two beams of white light gave to the night, its old military aspect again. I have turned off the engine in order to watch, me also, a sound, a sign in this night.

(...) The wind blows from the south-west. You hear all the bells of Verdun counting the hours one after the other, or mix to blend the silverine sounds of the one with the gong strokes of the other.

At this time, you can imagine, without effort, that a soldier emaciated, helmeted, his bones covered with a rotten uniform without identity, the jaw pressing on his hands without flesh, listening all the bells of the city. Here are the twelve strokes of the end of one day. The soldier from beyond the grave awaits the last breath of the last of those who were formerly at his sides. When this anonymous old man give back his soul aged normally, the helmeted ghost will be deleted in the oblivion, and the sector of Verdun will enter in the historical immortality, such as the books conceive it."

"Verdun" (return to the front among the pelgrims) - Pierre Mac Orlan

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