Memories of War: 1914-18 By Douglas Harry Butler (Gloucester Regiment Territorials)

Prelude (1978) I wrote this preamble having completed the main body of the work. I recognise some explanation is necessary before others embark on the story proper. You will have to excuse me jumping around in space and time as each sentence brings to mind my life and the goings on of that distant period. If ever the urge comes to write a well-crafted story these disjointed jottings will act as amine from which the verbiage and repetitions could be flung away to leave what seemed to have value. Please bear with me. This is a sort of autobiography of my view of the Great War. I suppose I should call it: ‘Interlude 1914-19’. Here has been recorded one man's view of the period September 1914 to March 1919. It is not literature it was written line byline as memory carried me back to those extraordinary days with regular pauses of days and months. I wanted to putdown on paper the things I saw and endured and enjoyed, and the thoughts that passed through my mind as day by daytime moved along its endless groove of boredom terror discomfort and good fellowship. I have read and listened to people in the Press and Broadcasting who have distorted the overall picture of the war. It seems tome that one's attitude varies with the period one happened to beat the Front. If I had gone to France in July 1917 and come home crippled in October of that year my story would have been all ‘blood and thunder’. People now talk of that war as a period of unrelieved mud and misery. This is a false picture. Sometimes the snow fell but often the sun shone we laughed and played -football bridge pontoon solo whist -but whatever it might be always sharing together to the constant mutter or roar of the guns. We were an extended family with few quarrels. Old faces vanished dead or wounded and new faces took their place but the Family lived on. We of the PBI (Poor Bloody Infantry) were proud of that title we felt that onus rested the final result of which we had no doubt. I was very young to be in command of a company at Passchendaele. Looking back I realise that we were all so very young. I was seventeen when I joined the Army and not yet twenty-two when the fighting stopped. I had nearly two years in the ranks and over two and a half as an officer so I saw the business from both angles. Of one thing I feel certain: I did not cause the death of any of my comrades and I feel pretty sure that I saved a few lives through my hard-won experience of the way the enemy thought and acted. I don't think that I ‘grew up during those endless years. It was allan male world. I may have used the word ‘gay once or twice in the following pages but I would stress that it had its true sense and had not been degraded into the quite different meaning we use today. I believe I mention that we had no overt
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