Sunday, April 25, 2010


As far as I can tell, ANZAC Day is the last memorial day specifically dedicated to World War One. Which is sad. Nothing defined the Twentieth Century more than WWI: The rise of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and WWII, and the arising Cold War all have their roots in the the Great War of 1914-1918.

Most of us would rather remember WWII. It was a more clear-cut war, with the Nazi atrocities making the opponent easier to demonize than the Central Powers of World War One. The victors could feel good about winning WWII. But the Great War was a quagmire, an enormous mess that scarred the "lost generation" and wiped out entire British neighborhoods, thanks to the Pals Battalions, sometimes in a matter of hours. Ah, the glory of war.

Rather than my usual mournful trench poetry, this one is a touch more playful:

"The General Inspecting the Trenches"
by Alan Herbert

The General inspecting the trenches
Exclaimed with a horrified shout
'I refuse to command a division
Which leaves its excreta about.'

But nobody took any notice
No one was prepared to refute,
That the presence of shit was congenial
Compared to the presence of Shute.

And certain responsible critics
Made haste to reply to his words
Observing that his staff advisors
Consisted entirely of turds.

For shit may be shot at odd corners
And paper supplied there to suit,
But a shit would be shot without mourners
If someone shot that shit Shute.

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