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Friday, November 19, 2010

"Goodby to all That"

Book Cover

Robert Graves' book should be read by everyone interested in military history. It is a far cry from his "I, Claudius" and gives an excellent picture of the "glory" of war.


"Two young miners, in another company, disliked their sargeant, who had a down on them and gave them all the most dirty and dangerous jobs. When they were in billets he crimed them for things they hadn't done; so they decided to kill him. Later, they reported at battalion Orderly Room and asked to see the Adjutant. This was irregular, because a private is forbidden to address an officer without an N.C.O of his own company acting as a go-between. The Adjutant happened to see them and asked: 'Well, what is it you want?'

Smartly slapping the small-of-the-butt of their sloped rifles, they said: 'We've come to report, Sir, that we're very sorry, but we've shot our company sargeant major.'

The Adjutant said: 'Good heavens, how did that happen?'

'It was an accident, Sir.'

'What do you mean, you damn fools? Did you mistake him for a spy?'

'No, Sir, we mistook him for our platoon sargeant.'

So they were both court-martialled and shot by a firing squad of their own company against the wall of a convent in Bethune. Their last words were the Battalion rallying-cry: 'Stick it, the Welsh!'"

“To get a ‘cushy’ one is all the old hands think about. A bloke in the Camerons wanted a ‘cushy’ bad! Fed up and far from home he was. He puts his finger over the top and gets his trigger finger taken off and two more besides. “I’m off to bonny Scotland!” he says laughing. But on the way down to the dressing station, he forgets to stoop low where an old sniper is working. He gets it through the head.”

A bloke in the Munsters once wanted a cushy, so he waves his hand above the parapet to catch Fritz’s attention.

Nothing  doing.  He waves his arms about for a couple of minutes. Nothing doing, not a shot.  He puts his elbows on the fire-step, hoists his body upside-down and waves his legs about till he gets blood to the head.  Not a shot did old Fritz fire.

“Oh,” says the Munster man, “I don’t believe there’s a damned square-head there.  Where’s the German Army to?”  He has a peek over the top -crack! he gets it in the head.  Finee. 

"Memento mori"