I have received from the front one of the respirators given out to the troops to be used when the gas clouds appear.
“It is prepared with hypophosphite of soda,” wrote the surgeon who sent it, “and all they have to do before putting it on is to dip it in the water in the trenches. They are all supplied in addition with goggles, which are worn on their caps,”
This is from the same letter:
“That night a German soldier was brought in wounded, and jolly glad he was to be taken. He told us he had been turned down three times for phthisis—tuberculosis—and then in the end was called up and put into the trenches after eight weeks’ training. All of which is very significant. Another wounded German told the men at the ambulance that they must move on as soon as they could, as very soon the Germans would be in Calais.
“All the German soldiers write home now on the official cards, which have Calais printed on the top of them!”
Not all. I have before me a card from a German officer in the trenches in France. It is a good-natured bit of raillery, with something of grimness underneath.
“’I nibble them’—Joffre.
See your article in the Saturday Evening
Post of May 29th, 1915. Really, Joffre has had time! It is
September now, and we are not nibbled yet. Still we stand deep in
France. Au revoir a Paris, Madame.”
He signs it “Yours truly,” and then his name.
Not Calais, then, but Paris!
AN ARMY OF CHILDREN
It is undeniably true that the humanities are failing us as the war goes on. Not, thank God, the broad humanity of the Red Cross, but that individual compassion of a man for his wounded brother, of which the very fabric of mercy is woven. There is too much death, too much suffering. Men grow calloused. As yet the loss is not irretrievable, but the war is still only a matter of months. What if it is to be of years?
France and Belgium were suffering from a wave of atheism before the war. But there comes a time in the existence of nations, as in the lives of individuals, when human endeavour seems useless, when the world and the things thereof have failed. At such time nations and individuals alike turn at last to a Higher Power. France is on her knees to-day. Her churches are crowded. Not perhaps since the days of chivalry, when men were shriven in the churches before going out to battle, has France so generally knelt and bowed her head—but it is to the God of Battles that she prays.
On her battlefields the priests have most signally distinguished themselves. Some have exchanged the soutane for the uniform, and have fought bravely and well. Others, like the priests who stood firm in the midst of Jordan, have carried their message of hope to the dying into the trenches.