The Great War, I was there - Part 1

Here is no new history of the World War. The Editor’s name is associated with no fewer than six consider­able works of wide circulation that come within the category of history or chronicle. But here, for the first time in any adequate form, he presents the Human Story of the War. A story told elsewise in only a fragmentary way. Our main concern in this new work is neither with victory nor defeat. Tactics and strategy get little inconsideration these pages. Our preoccupation from first to last is with the individual and personal reactions of events upon those who took part in them, from Private to Field-Marshal. “7 Wus There "is the keynote of every chapter. Nothing that w e print here had its origin outside of im­mediate personal experience. The entire literature of the Great War, published during its progress and since November 11,1918, has been ransacked to secure the most vivid and vital personal revelations of that human story, the telling *f which has been loo long de­layed, and the proper telling of which can be achieved only by means of the selective process here pursued. The twentieth anniversary of the Armistice is an appro­priate occasion for attempting this important task, and 1 am indeed happy to be still alive to essay it. “History repeats itself.” A hackneyed saying but is it Irue ? I think not. However much anew set of circumstances may resemble an old, there is rarely, if ever, repetition. The next world war will not repeat in any measure or degree the Great War of 1914-18. /^NLY in its human reactions will it present any resemblance. That is why, in commemorating the twentieth anni­versary of “CeaseFire on All Fronts” —that never-to- be-forgotten day in the lives of us survivors!— I have devised this work to bring together the most vivid, the most poignant, the most human experiences of those who were privileged, or doomed (as you may esteem it), to have taken part—no matter how humble a part—in those world-shaking events of twenty years ago. Human emotions repeat themselves—not history. The thoughts and feelings, the hopes and fears, the terrors and passions released by the Great War of 1914-18 will be released again and again while the world lasts, have indeed been released on many occasions since 1918—in Syria, in Morocco, in China, in Paraguay, in Abyssinia, in Spain. And it is with these thoughts and emotions in their relationship to the first World War that we are concerned in this particular work. 'The Great War: I Was There! is offered as a com­panion work to the same editor’s World War, 1914-1918: A Pictured History. Nothing that is printed herein text or picture duplicates or repeats anything from World War. I have been fortunate beyond my expectation in securing an astonishing number of hitherto unpublished war photographs. All likely sources have been most carefully examined in an effort to assemble a further series of unpublished and un­ hackneyed photographic documents of the war, and our pages maybe left to bear witness to our success. I have been largely helped in this respect by the authorities who control our admirable War Museum, but beyond its very considerable resources I have sought and secured a highly important series of entirely new photographs of the present- day aspect of celebrated war-time scenes, showing, especially those of Belgium, how remarkably the art of restoration has re-created historic places which the horrific passage of war had completely obliterated. Nothing could be more eloquent of the ant-like activity of the human race than this faithful restoring of the past in terms of the past so absolute that it is difficult to believe war’s destructive hand had ever touched it. D ut even exceeding in permanent interest the attractiveness of our photography is the thrilling appeal of our literary contents. Here, for the first time in the engulfing flood of war literature, the reader may feel the immediacy of the personal narrative. I have sought throughout the incom­mensurable army of war books for those passages most worthy
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