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Tommy Atkins at War

James Alexander Kilpatrick

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .irst terrible moments, which were enough to unnerve anybody, I became used to the situation. Afterwards the din had no effect upon me." And describing an artillery duel a gunner declares: "It was butcher's work. We just rained shells on the Germans until we were deaf and choking. I don't think a gun on their position could have sold for old iron after we had finished, and the German gunners would be just odd pieces of clothing and bits of accouterment. It seems 'swanky' to say so, but once you get over the first shock you go on chewing biscuits and tobacco when the shells are bursting all round. You don't seem to mind it any more than smoking in a hailstorm."

Smoking is the great consolation of the soldiers. They smoke whenever they can, and the soothing cigarette is their best friend in the trenches. "We can go through anything so long as we have tobacco," is a passage from a soldier's letter; and this is the burden of nearly all the messages from the front. "Th. . . Read More