Archive for the ‘World Wars’ Category

Allied Wartime conferences chart

Allied Wartime Conferences in World War II

Charts for equivalent ranks and insignia among the armed services

Go here for the enlisted ranks:

Go here for warrant officer ranks:

Ge here for commissioned officer ranks:

The effects of World War I on the Middle East

In his book, A Peace to End All Peace, historian David Fromkin outlined the lasting effects of the way the breakup of the Ottoman Empire was handled. One of Wilson’s Fourteen Points had dealt with the need to redraw boundaries of countries that had been within empires so that ethnic groups would be given their own countries, but this was obviously not accomplished either in Europe or in southwest Asia. Here is a pretty good overview of this book which you should read.

The term “Balkanization” is often used to describe the kind of breakup that did occur. Balkanization means the breakup of a former country into many mutually hostile ethnic enclaves, as happened in the former Yugoslavia at the end of the Cold War. Since Yugoslavia is on the Balkan peninsula, the term is “balkanization.” The forces that led to the national boundaries that did occur included both native overlords as well as European powers seeking to advance their own aims in the region, as you will discover below.

From the BBC, there is an excellent site that explains the course of the war against the Ottoman Empire. Here is an excerpt from Professor David Woodward’s account entitled, The Middle East in World War I:

The Middle East during World War One

Professor David Woodward
The aftermath
General Allenby and King Feisal I

General Allenby with Iraq’s King Feisal I, c 1920 ©

“The war ended with the British occupying the territory that was to become Iraq, Palestine, Trans-Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. With the Ottoman Empire destroyed, Russia paralysed by foreign intervention and civil war, and French influence limited somewhat by their minor military role in the Middle East, Britain’s military success made her the dominant power in the region. The resulting settlement, which fostered an instability that continues to be a source of conflict today, generated much controversy at the time and has continued to do so ever since.

‘They believed that the western powers, especially the British, had acted with arrogance.’

Employing bags of gold, the diplomacy of Lawrence of Arabia, and promises of Arab independence, the British had encouraged an Arab uprising in 1916 against the Turks. Although the Hashemite Arabs were rewarded with considerable territory, they and other Arab nationalists believed that they had been ‘robbed’ when the British did not fully deliver on their pledges of independence. They believed that the western powers, especially the British, had acted with arrogance, drawing borders and creating nations with little or no regard for the wishes of the local inhabitants.

The fate of Palestine, occupied by the British, especially provoked Arab frustration and anger. (In 1917 the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, had supported a Jewish home in Palestine.)

But in important respects the Arab view of the peace settlement (which is supported by many western historians) is a caricature of what actually happened. In a revisionist work, Efraim Karsh and Inari Karsh have made a convincing argument that many forces, both local and foreign, were at work at the time the settlement was agreed. In their words, ‘even at the weakest point in their modern history, during the First World War and its immediate wake, Middle Eastern actors were not hapless victims of predatory imperial powers, but active participants in the restructuring of their region.’

‘And if the French and British had granted ‘self-determination’…it is possible that the result would have been the balkanisation of the area.’

They argue, for example, that Iraq and Trans-Jordan were not simply British inventions, but owed their existence to a compromise between Hashemite imperial greed and well-intended British efforts to meet local needs and allay the fears and suspicions of their allies.

It is perhaps only proper to note that if Germany had won the war, the Ottoman Empire would have been expanded, subjecting many Arabs and other nationalities to its rule. And if the French and British had granted ‘self-determination’ to the inhabitants of this region it is possible that the result would have been the balkanisation of the area, with fragile and often antagonistic fiefdoms and kingdoms prevailing. It seems likely that, no matter how this war in the Middle East had been resolved, the region was destined to suffer instability and conflict in the years ahead.”

The entire article on the BBC website is actually quite good, and begins here. I strongly recommend it to you if you wish to understand the genesis of the problems the modern Middle East has faced as a legacy of imperialism. In fact, there are links to several other history articles on this page, and so if I were you, I would use this ( as one of my reference sources.

Debs on the “Great” War

Excerpt: Eugene Debs lashes out against World War I
and calls on the crowd to join the Socialist party,
Canton, Ohio, June 16, 1918.

Comrades, friends and fellow-workers:
For this very cordial greeting, this very hearty reception, I thank you all with the fullest appreciation of your interest in and your devotion to the cause for which I am to speak to you this afternoon. [Applause.]

To speak for labor; to plead the cause of the men and women and children who toil; to serve the working class, has always been to me a high privilege; [Applause] a duty of love. I have just returned from a visit over yonder, where three of our most loyal comrades are paying the penalty for their devotion to the cause of the working class. [Applause.] They have come to realize, as many of us have, that it is extremely dangerous to exercise the constitutional right of free speech in a country fighting to make democracy safe in the world. [Applause.]

I realize that, in speaking to you this afternoon, there are certain limitations placed upon the right of free speech. I must be exceedingly careful, prudent, as to what I say, and even more careful and prudent as to how I say it. I may not be able to say all I think; but I am not going to say anything that I do not think. [Applause.] I would rather a thousand times be a free soul in jail than to be a sycophant and coward in the streets. [Applause and shouts.] They may put those boys in jail — and some of the rest of us in jail — but they can not put the Socialist movement in jail. [Applause and shouts.] Those prison bars separate their bodies from ours, but their souls are here this afternoon. [Applause and cheers.] They are simply paying the penalty that all men have paid in all the ages of history for standing erect, and for seeking to pave the way to better conditions for mankind. [Applause.]….

These are the gentry who are today wrapped up in the American flag, who shout their claim from the housetops that they are the only patriots, and who have their magnifying glasses in hand, scanning the country for evidence of disloyalty, eager to apply the brand of treason to the men who dare to even whisper their opposition to Junker rule in the United Sates. No wonder Sam Johnson declared that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” He must have had this Wall Street gentry in mind, or at least their prototypes, for in every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both, to deceive and overawe the people. [Applause.]

… Every solitary one of these aristocratic conspirators and would-be murderers claims to be an arch-patriot. Every one of them insists that the war is being waged to make the world safe for democracy. What humbug! What rot! What false pretense! These autocrats, these tyrants, these red-handed robbers and murderers, the “patriots,” while the men who have the courage to stand face to face with them, speak the truth, and fight for their exploited victims — they are the disloyalists and traitors. If this be true, I want to take my place side by side with the traitors in this fight! [Great applause.]

…How stupid and short-sighted the ruling class really is! Cupidity is stone blind. It has no vision. The greedy, profit-seeking exploiter cannot see beyond the end of his nose. … He has no capacity for literature; no appreciation of art; no soul for beauty. That is the penalty the parasites pay for the violation of the laws of life. The Rockefellers are blind. Every move they make in their game of greed but hastens their own doom…

Every time they strangle a Socialist paper they add a thousand voices proclaiming the truth of the principles of socialism and the ideals of the Socialist movement. They help us in spite of themselves. Socialism is a growing idea; an expanding philosophy. It is spreading over the entire face of the earth; it is as vain to resist it as it would be to arrest the sunrise on the morrow. It is coming, coming, coming all along the line. Can you not see it? If not, I advise you to consult an oculist.

Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. In the Middle Ages when the feudal lords who inhabited the castles whose towers may still be seen along the Rhine concluded to enlarge their domains, to increase their power, their prestige, and their wealth, they declared war upon one another. But they themselves did not go to war anymore than the modern feudal lords, the barons of Wall Street go to war.[Applause.] The feudal barons of the Middle Ages, the economic predecessors of the capitalists of our day, declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another’s throats for the profit and glory of the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell…

And here let me emphasize the fact — and it cannot be repeated too often — that the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace.

“Yours not to reason why; Yours but to do and die.” That is their motto and we object on the part of the awakening workers of this nation. If war is right, let it be declared by the people. You who have your lives to lose, you certainly above all others have the right to decide the momentous issue of war or peace. [Applause.]….

Do you wish to hasten the day of victory? Join the Socialist Party! Don’t wait for the morrow. Join now! [Applause.] Enroll your name without fear, and take your place where you belong. You cannot do your duty by proxy. You have got to do it yourself, and do it squarely and then, as you look yourself in the face, you will have no occasion to blush. You will know what it is to be a real man or woman. You will lose nothing; you will gain everything. [Applause.] Not only will you lose nothing, but you will find something of infinite value, and that something will be yourself. And that is your supreme need — to find yourself — to really know yourself and your purpose in life. [Applause.]

You need at this time especially to know that you are fit for something better than slavery and cannon fodder. [Applause.] You need to know that you were not created to work and produce and impoverish yourself to enrich an idle exploiter. You need to know that you have a mind to improve, a soul to develop, and a manhood to sustain… You need to know that as long as you are ignorant, as long as you are indifferent, as long as you are apathetic, unorganized and content, you will remain exactly where you are.[Applause.] You will be exploited; you will be degraded, and you will have to beg for a job. You will get just enough for your slavish toil to keep you in working order, and you will be looked down upon with scorn and contempt by the very parasites that live and luxuriate out of your sweat and unpaid labor….

To turn your back on the corrupt Republican Party and the still more corrupt Democratic Party — the gold-dust lackeys of the ruling class [laughter] counts for still more after you have stepped out of those popular and corrupt capitalist parties to join a minority party that has an ideal, that stands for a principle, and fights for a cause. [Applause.] This will be the most important change you have ever made and the time will come when you will thank me for having made the suggestion. It was the day of days for me. I remember it well. It was like passing from midnight darkness to the noon-tide light of day. It came almost like a flash and found me ready.

…[The Democrats and Republicans are continually talking about your patriotic duty. It is not their but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. There is a decided difference. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches.

Children’s Crusade

In 1985, Sting released this song which draws parallels between World War I and the war against heroin addiction in the 1980s. The connection is the poppies.

Links from our discussion today 2/8

A diagram of trench warfare:

The poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” by Wilfred Owen:

“In Flanders’ Fields” set as a choral musical piece:

Great Movies about World War I and its effects:
All Quiet on the Western Front
The Lost Battalion
The African Queen
Lawrence of Arabia
The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain

Footage from the real site of the Battle of Gallipoli, restored by Peter Jackson for ANZAC Day:

Wilson’s Fourteen Points– and Lodge’s Reservations

From a speech before a joint sessions of Congress on January 8, 1918

You can read the entire speech here:

…We entered this war because violations of right had occurred which touched us to the quick and made the life of our own people impossible unless they were corrected and the world secure once for all against their recurrence. What we demand in this war, therefore, is nothing peculiar to ourselves. It is that the world be made fit and safe to live in; and particularly that it be made safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression. All the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us. The program of the world’s peace, therefore, is our program; and that program, the only possible program, as we see it, is this:

I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.

III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.

IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.

V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.

VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.

VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.

VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.

IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.

X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development.

XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.

XII. The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.

XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.

XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

In regard to these essential rectifications of wrong and assertions of right we feel ourselves to be intimate partners of all the governments and peoples associated together against the Imperialists. We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end. For such arrangements and covenants we are willing to fight and to continue to fight until they are achieved; but only because we wish the right to prevail and desire a just and stable peace such as can be secured only by removing the chief provocations to war, which this program does remove….

This is a link to Lodge’s speech with his Fourteen Reservations:

1. The United States so understands and construes Article I that in case of notice of withdrawal from the League of Nations, as provided in said article, the United States shall be the sole judge as to whether all Its international obligations and all its obligations under the said Covenant have been fulfilled, and notice of withdrawal by the United States may be given by a concurrent resolution of the Congress of the United States.
2. The United States assumes no obligation to preserve the territorial integrity or political independence of any other country or to interfere in controversies between nations — whether members of the League or not — under the provisions of Article 10, or to employ the military or naval forces of the United States under any article of the treaty for any purpose, unless in any particular case the Congress, which, under the Constitution, has the sole power to declare war or authorize the employment of the military or naval forces of the United States, shall by act or joint resolution so provide.
3. No mandate shall be accepted by the United States under Article 22, Part 1, or any other provision of the treaty of peace with Germany, except by action of the Congress of the United States.
4. The United States reserves to itself exclusively the right to decide what questions are within its domestic jurisdiction and declares that all domestic and political questions relating wholly or in part to its internal affairs, including immigration, labor, coastwise traffic, the tariff, commerce, the suppression of traffic in women and children, and in opium and other dangerous drugs, and all other domestic questions, are solely within the jurisdiction of the United States and are not under this treaty to be submitted in any way either to arbitration or to the consideration of the Council or of the Assembly of the League of Nations, or any agency thereof, or to the decision or recommendation of any other power.
5. The United States will not submit to arbitration or to inquiry by the Assembly or by the Council of the League of Nations provided for in said treaty of peace any questions which in the judgment of the United States depend upon or relate to its long-established policy, commonly known as the Monroe Doctrine; said doctrine is to be interpreted by the United States alone and is hereby declared to be wholly outside the jurisdiction of said League of Nations and entirely unaffected by any provision contained in the said treaty of peace with Germany.
6. The United States withholds its assent to Articles 156, 157, and 158, and reserves full liberty of action with respect to any controversy which may arise under said articles between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan.
7. The Congress of the United States will provide by law for the appointment of the representatives of the United States in the Assembly and the Council of the League of Nations, and may in its discretion provide for the participation of the United States in any commission, committee, tribunal, court, council, or conference, or in the selection of any members thereof, and for the appointment of members of said commissions, committees, tribunals, courts, councils, or conferences, or any other representatives under the treaty of peace, or in carrying out its provisions; and until such participation and appointment have been so provided for and the powers and duties of such representatives have been defined by law, no person shall represent the United States under either said League of Nations or the treaty of peace with Germany or be authorized to perform any act for or on behalf of the United States thereunder; and no citizen of the United States shall be selected or appointed as a member of said commissions, committees, tribunals, courts, councils, or conferences except with the approval of the Senate of the United States.
8. The United States understands that the Reparation Commission will regulate or interfere with exports from the United States to Germany, or from Germany to the United States, only when the United States by act or joint resolution of Congress approves such regulation or interference.
9. The United States shall not be obligated to contribute to any expenses of the League of Nations, or of the Secretariat, or of any commission, or committee, or conference, or other agency organized under the League of Nations or under the treaty or for the purpose of carrying out the treaty provisions, unless and until an appropriation of funds available for such expenses shall have been made by the Congress of the United States.
10. If the United States shall at any time adopt any plan for the limitation of armaments proposed by the Council of the League of Nations under the provisions of Article 8, it reserves the right to increase such armaments without the consent of the Council whenever the United States is threatened with invasion or engaged in war.
11. The United States reserves the right to permit, in its discretion, the nationals of a Covenant-breaking state, as defined in Article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, residing within the United States or in countries other than that violating said Article 16, to continue their commercial, financial, and personal relations with the nationals of the United States.
12. Nothing in Articles 296, 297, or in any of the annexes thereto or in any other article, section, or annex of the treaty of peace with Germany shall, as against citizens of the United States, be taken to mean any confirmation, ratification, or approval of any act otherwise illegal or in contravention of the rights of citizens of the United States.
13. The United States withholds its assent to Part XIII (Articles 387 to 427, inclusive) unless Congress by act or joint resolution shall hereafter make provision for representation in the organization established by said Part XII, and in such event the participation of the United States will be governed and conditioned by the provisions of such act or joint resolution.
14. The United States assumes no obligation to be bound by any election, decision, report, or finding of the Council or Assembly in which any member of the League and its self-governing dominions, colonies, or parts of empire, in the aggregate, have cast more than one vote, and assumes no obligation to be bound by any decision, report, or finding of the Council or Assembly arising out of any dispute between the United States and any member of the League if such member, or any self-governing dominion, colony, empire, or part of empire united with it politically has voted.

Funeral for Last Combat Veteran and Service Member of World War I- Updated

If you click on the links, you can see video, but at least here are the stories.

Charles Coules of Australia was the last surviving combat veteran of World War I.

From May 20, 2011:
The world’s last known combat veteran of World War I, Claude Choules, has been laid to rest in Australia.

British-born Mr Choules died in his sleep at a nursing home two weeks ago. He was 110 years old.

At the naval funeral ceremony, his son Adrian urged mourners not to be sad, saying his father had had “a very long life and a very wonderful life”.

Mr Choules began training with the Royal Navy at age 15 and transferred to the Australian Navy in the 1920s.

He served in the military until 1956.

The naval ceremony included a traditional gunfire salute, honouring the life of Chief Petty Officer Choules, which spanned some of the most significant events in 20th Century maritime history.

“By gathering here to remember, we are also gathering to mark the passing of the Great War into history as the last links break between those who were there and we who remember them,” Chief of Navy Vice-Admiral Russ Crane said at the ceremony in the port town of Fremantle.

Mr Choules is survived by two daughters, a son and 11 grandchildren. His wife Ethel Choules died three years ago.

Mr Choules remembered WWI as a “tough” life, marked by occasional moments of extreme danger.

Despite his military record, Mr Choules became a pacifist. He was known to have disagreed with the celebration of Australia’s most important war memorial holiday, Anzac Day.

The world’s last known surviving service member of WWI is now thought to be Florence Green, who turned 110 in February. She was a waitress in the Women’s Royal Air Force.

And Florence Green has now passed away on February 7, 2012:

A woman thought to be the world’s last known surviving service member of World War I has died aged 110.

Florence Green, from King’s Lynn, Norfolk, served as a mess steward at RAF bases in Marham and Narborough.

She died in her sleep on Saturday night at Briar House care home, King’s Lynn. Mrs Green had been due to celebrate her 111th birthday on 19 February.

The world’s last known combat veteran of World War I, Briton Claude Choules, died in Australia aged 110 in May 2011.

The last three World War I veterans living in the UK – Bill Stone, Henry Allingham and Harry Patch – all died in 2009.
‘Wonderful mother’

Mrs Green leaves behind three children, four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Her husband Walter – an army veteran who served in both world wars and a porter at King’s Lynn station – died aged 82 in about 1975, one of her daughters said.

The 110-year-old had been at the care home since the end of November. She previously lived in King’s Lynn with her daughter May, aged 90.

Mrs Green’s other daughter June Evetts, 76, lives in Oundle, Northamptonshire, and her son Bob, 85, lives in Edinburgh.

Born in London before moving to Norfolk, Mrs Green was 17 years old when she joined the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) on 13 September 1918 – two months before the armistice.
Florence Green Mrs Green worked as a waitress on RAF bases in Norfolk

She left on 18 July 1919.

In 2010 Mrs Green’s story emerged after a researcher uncovered her records.

Mrs Evetts said: “She was just the most wonderful mother you could ask for. No-one had a bad word to say about her.”

She said her mother had rarely talked about her work with the WRAF as she “didn’t like to blow her own trumpet”, but added she was “proud of her service and loved the people she worked with”.

“I’m ever so proud of her. It’s such an achievement to be that last person,” Mrs Evetts said.

After she left the WRAF, the mess steward married at the age of 19 and worked for much of her life at a hotel in King’s Lynn.

In her spare time she was heavily involved with the Royal British Legion and knitted clothes and toys for children.

Mrs Evetts said her mother used to crochet blankets for children at the local Queen Elizabeth Hospital up until her 90s.

Sue Bray, administrator at Mrs Green’s care home, said: “She really was a lovely lady. Everyone thought a lot of her. She will be sadly missed.”

Group Captain David Cooper, station commander at RAF Marham, said in a statement he was very sad to hear that Mrs Green had died and added members of the airforce would be at her funeral.
‘Good time’

Speaking to the BBC in 2010, Mrs Green said she had served breakfast, lunch and tea in the WRAF and had got to know many different people during her service.

She added she “learned a lot of different things” and had a “good time” there.

According to The National Archives, the WRAF was created to free up men for active service.

It said women had to undertake a variety of jobs and were used as drivers, mechanics, cooks and office clerks.

At first they were based in Britain, but later about 500 women served in France and Germany.

The WRAF was disbanded on 1 April 1920.

At the start of World War II, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force was formed and renamed the Women’s Royal Air Force on 1 February 1949.

Mrs Green’s funeral will be held at Mintlyn Crematorium, Bawsey, in Norfolk, on 16 February, her funeral directors confirmed.

Poetry in World War I: Owen’s “Disabled”


He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasure after day,
Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.

About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees,
And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,-
In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls’ waists are, or how warm their subtle hands.
All of them touch him like some queer disease.

There was an artist silly for his face,
For it was younger than his youth, last year.
Now, he is old; his back will never brace;
He’s lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.

One time he liked a blood-smear down his leg,
After the matches, carried shoulder-high.
It was after football, when he’d drunk a peg,
He thought he’d better join.-He wonders why.
Someone had said he’d look a god in kilts,
That’s why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts
He asked to join. He didn’t have to beg;
Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years.
Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt,
And Austria’s, did not move him. And no fears
Of Fear came yet. He thought of jewelled hilts
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.

Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then inquired about his soul.

Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
Tonight he noticed how the women’s eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don’t they come
And put him into bed? Why don’t they come?
—————————Wilfred Owen

Dulce et Decorum Est

I want you to read the annotated version of this poem by Wilfred Owen, so go here:

Here is the story of Owen and Sassoon: