Welcome to our blog!

It's better than a bat in the eye with a burnt stick!

This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

And make sure to visit The Arnold Bennett Society for expert information and comment on all aspects of the life and work of AB.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

In time of war

Thursday, June 1st., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

I was recently talking with Captain ----, Brigade Major, apparently an intelligent man. I mentioned the corruption of the Russian administration. He said: "Well, we aren't much better ourselves." I then learnt that he believed that Essen was not attacked by our aeroplanes because Asquith holds shares in Krupps! And yet one is expected to discuss politics seriously with such intelligences.

"... continue spreading amazing lies about me and mine: they would be grotesque if they were not so vile. "Elizabeth is in turn engaged to a German Admiral, or a German General; Henry has shares in Krupps; I 'feed Prussian prisoners with every dainty and comestible,' and play lawn tennis with them at Donnington Hall a place whose very whereabouts is unknown to me. These private fabrications are not only circulated but believed ... I am told by John Morley and other students of history, that no greater campaign of calumny was ever conducted against one man than that which has been, and is being, conducted against my husband to-day. When I point out with indignation that someone in the cabinet is betraying secrets, I am counselled to keep calm. Henry is as indifferent to the Press as St. Paul's Cathedral is to midges, but I confess that I am not! and I only hope the man responsible for giving information to Lord N will be heavily punished: God may forgive him; I never can."

Lieut. Myers told me yesterday that the 'gas officer' came down yesterday to inspect gas-helmet efficiency of troops down here. Asked what would be the effect of gas on horses, he said he didn't know. And he an alleged expert. He afterwards found out from a man in the A.S.C. who had been at the front what the effect was. Myers pointed out that the whole A.S.C had only twenty five helmets. The Gas Officer said that would be all right, and that as soon as an alarm was given the necessary helmets would be forwarded! I seem to see it!

The British small box respirator or Gas Helmet was first introduced to British soldiers in April 1916 - a few months before the Battle of the Somme. By January 1917, it had become the standard issue gas mask for all British soldiers. By this time, the mask had an appearance which we would recognise as a gas mask today and its value can be seen in the number of fatalities the British suffered as a result of poison gas - 8,100 - far fewer than the total British deaths of the first day of the Somme.

Sergeant Humberstone had his son down here yesterday. Humberstone has been all his life in the army - Coldstreams etc., and is called "Dad" by all the other Non-com. officers. His son received a commission on the field for gallantry. When he came home, considerably knocked about, and met his father, his father saluted him, whereupon the son threw his arms round his father's neck and kissed him.  During his visit here, father has introduced him with restrained pride to Myers and others. Humberstone is a very nice old man.

No comments:

Post a Comment