by Philip Gibbs












In this book I have written about some aspects of the war which, I

believe, the world must know and remember, not only as a memorial of

men's courage in tragic years, but as a warning of what will happen

again--surely--if a heritage of evil and of folly is not cut out of the

hearts of peoples. Here it is the reality of modern warfare not only as

it appears to British soldiers, of whom I can tell, but to soldiers on

all the fronts where conditions were the same.

What I have written here does not cancel, nor alter, nor deny anything

in my daily narratives of events on the western front as they are now

published in book form. They stand, I may claim sincerely and humbly,

as a truthful, accurate, and tragic record of the battles in France and

Belgium during the years of war, broadly pictured out as far as I could

see and know. My duty, then, was that of a chronicler, not arguing why

things should have happened so nor giving reasons why they should not

happen so, but describing faithfully many of the things I saw, and

narrating the facts as I found them, as far as the censorship would

allow. After early, hostile days it allowed nearly all but criticism,

protest, and of the figures of loss.

The purpose of this book is to get deeper into the truth of this war and

of all war--not by a more detailed narrative of events, but rather as

the truth was revealed to the minds of men, in many aspects, out

of their experience; and by a plain statement of realities, however

painful, to add something to the world's knowledge out of which men of

good-will may try to shape some new system of relationship between one

people and another, some new code of international morality, preventing

or at least postponing another massacre of youth like that five years'

sacrifice of boys of which I was a witness.



When Germany threw down her challenge to Russia and France, and England

knew that her Imperial power would be one of the prizes of German

victory (the common people did not think this, at first, but saw only

the outrage to Belgium, a brutal attack on civilization, and a glorious

adventure), some newspaper correspondents were sent out from London to

report the proceedings, and I was one of them.

We went in civilian clothes without military passports--the War Office

was not giving any--with bags of money which might be necessary for the

hire of motor-cars, hotel life, and the bribery of doorkeepers in the

antechambers of war, as some of us had gone to the Balkan War, and

others. The Old Guard of war correspondents besieged the War Office

for official recognition and were insulted day after day by junior

staff-officers who knew that "K" hated these men and thought the press

ought to be throttled in time of war; or they were beguiled into false

hopes by officials who hoped to go in charge of them and were told to

buy horses and sleeping-bags and be ready to start at a moment's notice

for the front.

The moment's notice was postponed for months....

The younger ones did not wait for it. They took their chance of "seeing

something," without authority, and made wild, desperate efforts to break

through the barrier that had been put up against them by French and

British staffs in the zone of war. Many of them were arrested, put

into prison, let out, caught again in forbidden places, rearrested, and

expelled from France. That was after fantastic adventures in which they

saw what war meant in civilized countries where vast populations were

made fugitives of fear, where millions of women and children and old

people became wanderers along the roads in a tide of human misery, with

the red flame of war behind them and following them, and where the first

battalions of youth, so gay in their approach to war, so confident of

victory, so careless of the dangers (which they did not know), came back

maimed and mangled and blinded and wrecked, in the backwash of retreat,

which presently became a spate through Belgium and the north of France,

swamping over many cities and thousands of villages and many fields.

Those young writing-men who had set out in a spirit of adventure went

back to Fleet Street with a queer look in their eyes, unable to write

the things they had seen, unable to tell them to people who had not seen

and could not understand. Because there was no code of words which would

convey the picture of that wild agony of peoples, that smashing of all

civilized laws, to men and women who still thought of war in terms of

heroic pageantry.

"Had a good time?" asked a colleague along the corridor, hardly waiting

for an answer.

"A good time!"... God!... Did people think it was amusing to be an

onlooker of world-tragedy?... One of them remembered a lady of France

with a small boy who had fled from Charleville, which was in flames and

smoke. She was weak with hunger, with dirty and bedraggled skirts on her

flight, and she had heard that her husband was in the battle that was

now being fought round their own town. She was brave--pointed out the

line of the German advance on the map--and it was in a troop-train

crowded with French soldiers--and then burst into wild weeping, clasping

the hand of an English writing-man so that her nails dug into his flesh.

I remember her still.

"Courage, maman! Courage, p'tite maman!" said the boy of eight.

Through Amiens at night had come a French army in retreat. There were

dead and wounded on their wagons. Cuirassiers stumbled as they led their

tired horses. Crowds of people with white faces, like ghosts in the

darkness, stared at their men retreating like this through their city,

and knew that the enemy was close behind.

"Nous sommes perdus!" whispered a woman, and gave a wailing cry.

People were fighting their way into railway trucks at every station for

hundreds of miles across northern France. Women were beseeching a place

for the sake of their babes. There was no food for them on journeys of

nineteen hours or more; they fainted with heat and hunger. An old woman

died, and her corpse blocked up the lavatory. At night they slept on the

pavements in cities invaded by fugitives.

At Furnes in Belgium, and at Dunkirk on the coast of France, there were

columns of ambulances bringing in an endless tide of wounded. They were

laid out stretcher by stretcher in station-yards, five hundred at a

time. Some of their faces were masks of clotted blood. Some of their

bodies were horribly torn. They breathed with a hard snuffle. A foul

smell came from them.

At Chartres they were swilling over the station hall with disinfecting

fluid after getting through with one day's wounded. The French doctor

in charge had received a telegram from the director of medical services:

"Make ready for forty thousand wounded." It was during the first battle

of the Marne.

"It is impossible!" said the French doctor....

Four hundred thousand people were in flight from Antwerp, into which

big shells were falling, as English correspondents flattened themselves

against the walls and said, "God in heaven!" Two hundred and

fifty thousand people coming across the Scheldt in rowing-boats,

sailing-craft, rafts, invaded one village in Holland. They had no

food. Children were mad with fright. Young mothers had no milk in their

breasts. It was cold at night and there were only a few canal-boats and

fishermen's cottages, and in them were crowds of fugitives. The odor

of human filth exuded from them, as I smell it now, and sicken in


Then Dixmude was in flames, and Pervyse, and many other towns from the

Belgian coast to Switzerland. In Dixmude young boys of France--fusiliers

marins--lay dead about the Grande Place. In the Town Hall, falling to

bits under shell-fire, a colonel stood dazed and waiting for death amid

the dead bodies of his men--one so young, so handsome, lying there on

his back, with a waxen face, staring steadily at the sky through the

broken roof....

At Nieuport-les-Bains one dead soldier lay at the end of the esplanade,

and a little group of living were huddled under the wall of a red-brick

villa, watching other villas falling like card houses in a town that had

been built for love and pretty women and the lucky people of the world.

British monitors lying close into shore were answering the German

bombardment, firing over Nieuport to the dunes by Ostend. From one

monitor came a group of figures with white masks of cotton-wool tipped

with wet blood. British seamen, and all blind, with the dead body of an

officer tied up in a sack....

"O Jesu!... O maman!... O ma pauvre p'tite femme!... O Jesu! O Jesu!"

From thousands of French soldiers lying wounded or parched in the

burning sun before the battle of the Marne these cries went up to the

blue sky of France in August of '14. They were the cries of youth's

agony in war. Afterward I went across the fields where they fought and

saw their bodies and their graves, and the proof of the victory that

saved France and us. The German dead had been gathered into heaps like

autumn leaves. They were soaked in petrol and oily smoke was rising from


That was after the retreat from Mons, and the French retreat along all

their line, and the thrust that drew very close to Paris, when I saw our

little Regular Army, the "Old Contemptibles," on their way back, with

the German hordes following close. Sir John French had his headquarters

for the night in Creil. English, Irish, Scottish soldiers, stragglers

from units still keeping some kind of order, were coming in, bronzed,

dusty, parched with thirst, with light wounds tied round with rags,

with blistered feet. French soldiers, bearded, dirty, thirsty as dogs,

crowded the station platforms. They, too, had been retreating and

retreating. A company of sappers had blown up forty bridges of France.

Under a gas-lamp in a foul-smelling urinal I copied out the diary of

their officer. Some spiritual faith upheld these men. "Wait," they said.

"In a few days we shall give them a hard knock. They will never get

Paris. Jamais de la vie!"...

In Beauvais there was hardly a living soul when three English

correspondents went there, after escape from Amiens, now in German

hands. A tall cuirassier stood by some bags of gunpowder, ready to

blow up the bridge. The streets were strewn with barbed wire and broken

bottles... In Paris there was a great fear and solitude, except where

grief-stricken crowds stormed the railway stations for escape and where

French and British soldiers--stragglers all--drank together, and sang

above their broken glasses, and cursed the war and the Germans.

And down all the roads from the front, on every day in every month

of that first six months of war--as afterward--came back the tide of

wounded; wounded everywhere, maimed men at every junction; hospitals

crowded with blind and dying and moaning men....

"Had an interesting time?" asked a man I wanted to kill because of his

smug ignorance, his damnable indifference, his impregnable stupidity

of cheerfulness in this world of agony. I had changed the clothes

which were smeared with blood of French and Belgian soldiers whom I had

helped, in a week of strange adventure, to carry to the surgeons. As an

onlooker of war I hated the people who had not seen, because they could

not understand. All these things I had seen in the first nine months I

put down in a book called The Soul of the War, so that some might know;

but it was only a few who understood....


In 1915 the War Office at last moved in the matter of war

correspondents. Lord Kitchener, prejudiced against them, was being

broken down a little by the pressure of public opinion (mentioned from

time to time by members of the government), which demanded more news of

their men in the field than was given by bald communiques from

General Headquarters and by an "eye-witness" who, as one paper had

the audacity to say, wrote nothing but "eye-wash." Even the enormous,

impregnable stupidity of our High Command on all matters of psychology

was penetrated by a vague notion that a few "writing fellows" might be

sent out with permission to follow the armies in the field, under the

strictest censorship, in order to silence the popular clamor for more

news. Dimly and nervously they apprehended that in order to stimulate

the recruiting of the New Army now being called to the colors by vulgar

appeals to sentiment and passion, it might be well to "write up"

the glorious side of war as it could be seen at the base and in the

organization of transport, without, of course, any allusion to dead or

dying men, to the ghastly failures of distinguished generals, or to the

filth and horror of the battlefields. They could not understand, nor did

they ever understand (these soldiers of the old school) that a nation

which was sending all its sons to the field of honor desired with a deep

and poignant craving to know how those boys of theirs were living and

how they were dying, and what suffering was theirs, and what chances

they had against their enemy, and how it was going with the war which

was absorbing all the energy and wealth of the people at home.

"Why don't they trust their leaders?" asked the army chiefs. "Why don't

they leave it to us?"

"We do trust you--with some misgivings," thought the people, "and we do

leave it to you--though you seem to be making a mess of things--but

we want to know what we have a right to know, and that is the life and

progress of this war in which our men are engaged. We want to know more

about their heroism, so that it shall be remembered by their people and

known by the world; about their agony, so that we may share it in our

hearts; and about the way of their death, so that our grief may be

softened by the thought of their courage. We will not stand for this

anonymous war; and you are wasting time by keeping it secret, because

the imagination of those who have not joined cannot be fired by cold

lines which say, 'There is nothing to report on the western front.'"

In March of 1915 I went out with the first body of accredited war

correspondents, and we saw some of the bad places where our men lived

and died, and the traffic to the lines, and the mechanism of war in

fixed positions as were then established after the battle of the Marne

and the first battle of Ypres. Even then it was only an experimental

visit. It was not until June of that year, after an adventure on the

French front in the Champagne, that I received full credentials as a war

correspondent with the British armies on the western front, and joined

four other men who had been selected for this service, and began that

long innings as an authorized onlooker of war which ended, after long

and dreadful years, with the Army of Occupation beyond the Rhine.


In the very early days we lived in a small old house, called by courtesy

a chateau, in the village of Tatinghem, near General Headquarters

at St.-Omer. (Afterward we shifted our quarters from time to time,

according to the drift of battle and our convenience.) It was very

peaceful there amid fields of standing corn, where peasant women worked

while their men were fighting, but in the motor-cars supplied us by

the army (with military drivers, all complete) it was a quick ride over

Cassel Hill to the edge of the Ypres salient and the farthest point

where any car could go without being seen by a watchful enemy and blown

to bits at a signal to the guns. Then we walked, up sinister roads, or

  • reality [ri´æliti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.现实(性);真实;逼真   (初中英语单词)
  • cancel [´kænsəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.删去;勾销;放弃   (初中英语单词)
  • western [´westən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.西的;西方的   (初中英语单词)
  • accurate [´ækjurət] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.准确的;精密的   (初中英语单词)
  • hostile [´hɔstail] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.敌方的,敌意的   (初中英语单词)
  • system [´sistəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.系统,体系,制度   (初中英语单词)
  • international [,intə´næʃənəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.国际的,世界的   (初中英语单词)
  • challenge [´tʃælindʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.向….挑战;怀疑   (初中英语单词)
  • imperial [im´piəriəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.帝国的;庄严的   (初中英语单词)
  • civilization [,sivilai´zeiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.文明,文化   (初中英语单词)
  • recognition [,rekəg´niʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.认出;认识;承认   (初中英语单词)
  • charge [tʃɑ:dʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.收费;冲锋 n.费用   (初中英语单词)
  • desperate [´despərit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.拼死的;绝望的   (初中英语单词)
  • misery [´mizəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.痛苦;悲惨;穷困   (初中英语单词)
  • careless [´keəlis] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.粗心的;草率的   (初中英语单词)
  • presently [´prezəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不久;目前   (初中英语单词)
  • unable [ʌn´eibəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不能的;无能为力的   (初中英语单词)
  • hunger [´hʌŋgə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.饥饿;渴望   (初中英语单词)
  • retreat [ri´tri:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.退却;撤退;放弃   (初中英语单词)
  • telegram [´teligræm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.电报   (初中英语单词)
  • director [di´rektə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.指导者;….长;导演   (初中英语单词)
  • medical [´medikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.医学的;医疗的   (初中英语单词)
  • flight [flait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.逃走;飞行;班机   (初中英语单词)
  • holland [´hɔlənd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.荷兰   (初中英语单词)
  • fright [frait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.惊吓;恐怖;怪人   (初中英语单词)
  • waiting [´weitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.等候;伺候   (初中英语单词)
  • steadily [´stedili] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.坚定地;不断地   (初中英语单词)
  • victory [´viktəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.胜利,战胜   (初中英语单词)
  • thrust [θrʌst] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.猛推;冲;刺;挤进   (初中英语单词)
  • thirst [θə:st] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.渴,口渴;渴望   (初中英语单词)
  • spiritual [´spiritʃuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精神(上)的;神圣的   (初中英语单词)
  • ignorance [´ignərəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.无知,愚昧   (初中英语单词)
  • pressure [´preʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.压榨 vt.对…施压力   (初中英语单词)
  • headquarters [´hed,kwɔ:təz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.总部(署),司令部   (初中英语单词)
  • permission [pə´miʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.允许;同意;许可   (初中英语单词)
  • sentiment [´sentimənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.情绪;多愁善感   (初中英语单词)
  • passion [´pæʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.激情;激怒;恋爱   (初中英语单词)
  • glorious [´glɔ:riəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.光荣的;辉煌的   (初中英语单词)
  • transport [træn´spɔ:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.运输;流放   (初中英语单词)
  • horror [´hɔrə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.恐怖;战栗   (初中英语单词)
  • suffering [´sʌfəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.痛苦;灾害   (初中英语单词)
  • energy [´enədʒi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.活力,精力;能力   (初中英语单词)
  • wealth [welθ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.财富,财产   (初中英语单词)
  • imagination [i,mædʒi´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.想象(力)   (初中英语单词)
  • traffic [´træfik] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.交通,运输   (初中英语单词)
  • dreadful [´dredful] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可怕的;讨厌的   (初中英语单词)
  • occupation [,ɔkju´peiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.职业的;军事占领的   (初中英语单词)
  • standing [´stændiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.持续 a.直立的   (初中英语单词)
  • peasant [´pezənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.农民;庄稼人   (初中英语单词)
  • psychology [sai´kɔlədʒi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.心理(学)   (高中英语单词)
  • memorial [mi´mɔ:riəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.纪念的 n.纪念物   (高中英语单词)
  • tragic [´trædʒik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.悲剧的;悲惨的   (高中英语单词)
  • warfare [´wɔ:feə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.战争;斗争;竞争   (高中英语单词)
  • sincerely [sin´siəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.真诚地;诚恳地   (高中英语单词)
  • faithfully [´feiθfəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.忠实地;诚恳地   (高中英语单词)
  • narrative [´nærətiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.叙述的 n.记事   (高中英语单词)
  • relationship [ri´leiʃənʃip] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.关系;联系;亲属关系   (高中英语单词)
  • outrage [´aut,reidʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.残暴 vt.虐待;伤害   (高中英语单词)
  • belgium [´beldʒəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.比利时   (高中英语单词)
  • barrier [´bæriə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.栅栏;屏障;障碍   (高中英语单词)
  • forbidden [fə´bidn] 移动到这儿单词发声  forbid的过去分词   (高中英语单词)
  • fantastic [fæn´tæstik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.奇异的;荒谬的   (高中英语单词)
  • civilized [´sivilaizd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.先进的;文明的   (高中英语单词)
  • confident [´kɔnfidənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有信心的,自信的   (高中英语单词)
  • corridor [´kɔridɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.走廊;指定航路   (高中英语单词)
  • amusing [ə´mju:ziŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有趣的   (高中英语单词)
  • switzerland [´switsələnd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.瑞士   (高中英语单词)
  • colonel [´kə:nəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.海(陆)军上校   (高中英语单词)
  • strewn [stru:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  strew的过去分词   (高中英语单词)
  • solitude [´sɔlitju:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.孤独;寂寞;荒凉   (高中英语单词)
  • indifference [in´difrəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.冷淡;无足轻重   (高中英语单词)
  • ghastly [´gɑ:stli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.苍白的;可怕的   (高中英语单词)
  • distinguished [di´stiŋgwiʃt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.卓越的,著名的   (高中英语单词)
  • theirs [ðeəz] 移动到这儿单词发声  pron.他们的   (高中英语单词)
  • warning [´wɔ:niŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.警告;前兆 a.预告的   (英语四级单词)
  • heritage [´heritidʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.遗产,继承物   (英语四级单词)
  • morality [mə´ræliti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.道德;教训;伦理学   (英语四级单词)
  • massacre [´mæsəkə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.大屠杀;残杀   (英语四级单词)
  • brutal [´bru:tl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.兽性的;残暴的   (英语四级单词)
  • civilian [si´viljən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.平民 a.平民的   (英语四级单词)
  • colleague [´kɔli:g] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.同事,同僚   (英语四级单词)
  • corpse [kɔ:ps] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.尸体   (英语四级单词)
  • sicken [´sikən] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.(使)生病;厌恶   (英语四级单词)
  • scottish [´skɔtiʃ, ´skɑtiʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.苏格兰人(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • bridge [bridʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.桥(梁);鼻梁;桥牌   (英语四级单词)
  • junction [´dʒʌŋkʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.连接;交叉点   (英语四级单词)
  • belgian [´beldʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.比利时人(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • audacity [ɔ:´dæsiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.大胆;卤莽;无礼   (英语四级单词)
  • nervously [´nə:vəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.神经质地;胆怯地   (英语四级单词)
  • allusion [ə´lu:ʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.暗指;提及;引喻   (英语四级单词)
  • wasting [´weistiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.浪费(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • mechanism [´mekənizəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.机械装置;机制   (英语四级单词)
  • chateau [´ʃætəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.城堡;公馆,邸宅   (英语四级单词)
  • farthest [´fɑ:ðist] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.&a.最远(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • watchful [´wɔtʃfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.注意的;戒备的   (英语四级单词)
  • sinister [´sinistə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.阴险的;不吉的   (英语四级单词)
  • truthful [´tru:θfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.诚实的;真实的   (英语六级单词)
  • broadly [´brɔ:dli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.广,宽;明白;粗鲁   (英语六级单词)
  • weeping [´wi:piŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.哭泣(的)   (英语六级单词)
  • stretcher [´stretʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.伸张者(器);担架   (英语六级单词)
  • horribly [´hɔrəbli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.恐怖地   (英语六级单词)
  • august [ɔ:´gʌst] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尊严的;威严的   (英语六级单词)
  • gunpowder [´gʌn,paudə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.火药   (英语六级单词)
  • cheerfulness [´tʃiəfulnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.高兴,愉快   (英语六级单词)
  • craving [´kreiviŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.渴望,热望   (英语六级单词)
  • heroism [´herəuizəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.英勇;英雄主义   (英语六级单词)
  • champagne [ʃæm´pein] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.香槟酒;微黄色   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 18:08:05
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