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11 November 2008


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Herbert Reed
"The Happy Warrior"

His wild heart beats with painful sobs,
His strin'd hands clench an ice-cold rifle,
His aching jaws grip a hot parch'd tongue,
His wide eyes search unconsciously.

He cannot shriek.

Bloody saliva
Dribbles down his shapeless jacket.

I saw him stab
And stab again
A well-killed Boche.

This is the happy warrior,
This is he...

Wilfred Gibson

They ask me where I've been,
And what I've done and seen.
But what can I reply
Who know it wasn't I,
But someone just like me,
Who went across the sea
And with my head and hands
Killed men in foreign lands...
Though I must bear the blame,
Because he bore my name.


from time immemorial

those departed and the lucky living wounded who remember their sacrifice

Ω ξείν', αγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ότι τήδε
κείμεθα, τοις κείνων ρήμασι πειθόμενοι.

O xein', angellein Lakedaimoniois hoti tede
keimetha tois keinon rhemasi peithomenoi.

Stranger! To Sparta say, her faithful band,
Here lie in death, remembering her command.

Erich von Manstein Lost Victories


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Since I live near Flanders fields, I've seen the crosses row on row. The amount of blood shed in that small area, for such a pointless war, is truly saddening.


Col Lang thank you for your service.

William R. Cumming

Hard to believe that ten years from today the wonder of that ARMISTICE will be a century past. John Keegan refers to WWII as the greatest event so far in human history and probably for the next thousand years. Nonetheless clearly it was just an Armistice for WWI on November 11th, 1918 and not a peace. Who alive on that day could imagine the horror to follow. Blessed are the Peacemakers.


In war, there are no unwounded soldiers. ~José Narosky


In memory of those who earned a hero's welcome home, and in memory of all the fallen.

"This tomb the dust of Aeschylus doth hide,
Euphorion's son and fruitful Gela's pride
How tried his valor, Marathon may tell
And long-haired Medes, who knew it all too well."

Tombstone of Aeschylus

"Shot at Dawn
One of the First to Enlist
A Worthy Son of his Father"

Tombstone of Private Albert Ingham, 18th Manchesters, Executed for Desertion at the Somme, 1916


Captain Wilfred Owen, The Manchesters
Killed in Action, 4 November, 1918

For those who might not recognize the date, Capt. Owen died a week prior to the Armistice that ended his war.

John Kerry's words before Congress thirty years ago haunt us still. What's sadder is that I doubt he'll be the last to have reason to utter them.

Nancy K

I agree there is no unwounded solier. My father was a gunner in WWII and was shot down and was a POW for 2 years. The war took much of his joy away and at times he was a very unpleasant person. He loved his country and was very much against the Viet Nam war. I think he could not bear others seeing what he had.


Col., sir : Do you think "nucular" weapons (if they were invented earlier) would have helped avert the bloodiest conflict in Europe, the 3rd. "total war"? Or was it necessary that Europe experience such horrors in order for it to become the Union that it is today?

Apologies, too much influence from Harry Turtledove.


Sergeant Joyce Kilmer, US 69th Infantry.

Killed in action, 30 July 1918.

"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;"

There were few trees left, where that poet died.


William R. Cumming wrote:

It was just an Armistice for WWI on November 11th, 1918 and not a peace. Who alive on that day could imagine the horror to follow?

Kaporal Hitler perhaps?


Lift not my head from this bloody ground/ Nor bear my body home/ For all the earth is Roman earth/ And I shall die in Rome

- GK Chesterton, The White Horses


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.


Both my grandfathers served on the Western Front; paternal was a Canadian infantry officer, maternal was a British private who was wounded and captured by the Germans in 1916. As I recall him relating, he was working in a German coal mine in 1918 and on 11/11/18 at 11 AM they downed tools. The Germans tried to get them to keep working, but their attitude was “F*ck you, Jerry, the war’s over, mine your own goddamned coal.”

It’ll always be Armistice Day to me.



William R. Cumming

Since using the phrase for the first time in a term paper for an undergrad history course, I have found no real rebuttal for its inherent conclusion. "The WEST committed suicide in WWI"! Just taking a century to confirm that conclusion. I often stroll in military cemetaries both here and abroad and looking at those graves of those who paid the ultimate price at young or relatively young age, I keep wondering what the world would look like if they had lived?

David Habakkuk

In 1914, Michael Rourke and Jerome Kern wrote a hit song entitled 'They didn't believe me', which starts 'And when I told them/How beautiful you are/They didn't believe me! They didn't believe me!'

The parody ran:

And when they asked us
How dangerous it was.
Oh! We'll never tell them,
No, we'll never tell them.
We spent our pay in some café,
And fought wild women night and day,
T'was the cushiest job we ever had.

And when they ask us,
And they're certainly going to ask us.
The reason why we didn't win the Croix de Guerre.
Oh! We'll never tell them,
No! We'll never tell them.
There was a front but damned if we knew where.


Everyone remembers the Spartans, few remember those who fought beside or against them.


The initial solution advanced by the British and French to the deployment of the machine gun was that elan and a fast attack was the counter. Accept the heavy casualties and just get it over with.

What similar military stupidities are we inflicting on our troops today? COIN among the Pathans?

What will our stupidities be tomorrow? Carriers in the gulf?

Buzz Meeks

If I could suggest some titles in regards to the American air war over Europe 1942-1945, Bert Stiles’ "Serenade to the Big Bird", "A Real Good War" by Sam Halpert and "The Wrong Stuff: The Adventures and Misadventures of an 8th AF Aviator" by Truman Smith.

In remembrance of my late father, an 8AF B17 pilot (PH) 1944, and my maternal grandfather a Sgt, 10th Canadian Field Artillery 1915-1918.

May I also recommend the live Remembrance Day coverage every year by CBC Radio from Ottawa? Much more moving and dignified than another sale day at the mall here.

Buzz Meeks

Mark Gaughan

The War Prayer
by Mark Twain
It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came--next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams--visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!
Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory--

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside--which the startled minister did--and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne--bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import--that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of--except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two--one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this--keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer--the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it--that part which the pastor--and also you in your hearts--fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle--be Thou near them! With them--in spirit--we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it--for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

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