Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Machen on War II

Nichols (162-163): Machen was also moved by the ruin of the countryside, “a scene of desolation so abominable.” He adds, “I have seen burnt and ruined forests before. But the effects of shellfire are different. There was something indescribably sinister about the scene of ruin.” He had more of the countryside to see than he wanted to as they fought their way through France and into Belgium. A month or so before the end of the war, he wrote that his “shoes gave out completely under the stress” of the marching, adding, “Of course my feet were wet all the time.” He recalls what happened next: But finally I “salvaged” a dry pair of socks. Do you understand that word “salvage”? It is a great word in the army. When you see anything good lying around and appropriate When you see anything good lying around and appropriate it that is not “stealing”; it is merely salvaging. . . .You may laugh, and think I am irreverent, but I can say in all seriousness that one of the most fervent prayers that I ever offered in my life was the prayer of thanksgiving that I prayed that night in my dug-out when I pulled on those warm socks.

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