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World Wars

Nations Born And Reborn
In America, and in many other countries, people have listened...

November 11 1918
Sinners are said sometimes to repent and change their ways at...

To Wish To Take Away One From The Immortal Glory Which Belongs
to the Allied armies, nor from the undying gratitude which we o...

The Second Line Of Defense
In Norwich, England, stands a memorial which will forever be ...

The Miner And The Tiger
On an October day in 1866, David Lloyd George, then a little ...

Trees
I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree. ...

President Wilson In France
On December 14, 1918, President Wilson arrived in Paris. He ...

The Soldiers Who Go To Sea
If the army or the navy ever gaze on Heaven's scenes, Th...

U S Destroyer _osmond C Ingram_
If you were standing on the deck of a patrol boat watching fo...

Alsace-lorraine
On slight pretext, Germany in 1864 and in 1866 had made wars ...

The Capture Of Dun
After the Americans had cleared the Saint Mihiel salient, Mar...

America Enters The War
SPEECH BY LLOYD GEORGE, BRITISH PREMIER, APRIL 12, 1917 ...

The Tommy
John Masefield, the English writer, says, St. George did not ...

The Really Invincible Armada
The northern coast of Scotland is about as far north as the s...

The Yank
The boche went into the war as a robber, the poilu as a crusa...

The Unspeakable Turk
Although the great issues of the war were decided, and victor...

The Lost Battalion
On December 24, 1918, Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Whittlese...

The Turning Of The Tide
A division of marines and other American troops were rushed t...

Fighting A Depth Bomb
All who have read of the sinking of the Lusitania, by a torpe...

A Carol From Flanders
1914 In Flanders on the Christmas morn The trench...



The Tommy






John Masefield, the English writer, says, St. George did not go out
against the dragon like that divine calm youth in Carpaccio's picture,
nor like that divine calm man in Donatello's statue. He went out, I
think, after some taste of defeat knowing that it was going to be bad,
and that the dragon would breathe fire, and that very likely his spear
would break, and that he wouldn't see his children again, and people
would call him a fool. He went out, I think, as the battalions of our
men went out, a little trembling and a little sick and not knowing much
about it, except that it had to be done, and then stood up to the
dragon in the mud of that far land and waited for him to come on.

[Illustration: Saint George and the Dragon, painted by V. Carpaccio in
1516, Venice; S. Giorgio Maggiore. The background, as in most medieval
paintings, gives scenes that explain further the legend depicted.]

But as soon as the British Tommy had reached the dragon's lair, he
became the British player in a great championship game of the nations.
He was the British sportsman, hunting big game; for in matters of life
or death, he is always the player or the sportsman. That it was a
hideous dragon breathing out poison gas and fire and destroying
Christian maidens, made the sport all the more interesting and worth
while. Philip Gibbs says of the English Tommy:--

They take great risks sometimes as a kind of sport, as Arctic
explorers or big game hunters will face danger and endure great bodily
suffering for their own sake. Those men are natural soldiers. There
are some even who like war, though very few. But most of them would
jeer at any kind of pity for them, because they do not pity themselves,
except in most dreadful moments which they put away from their minds if
they escape. They scorn pity, yet they hate worse still, with a most
deadly hatred, all the talk about 'our cheerful men.' For they know
that, however cheerful they may be, it is not because of a jolly life
or lack of fear. They loathe shell-fire and machine-gun fire. They
know what it is 'to have the wind up.' They have seen what a
battlefield looks like before it has been cleared of its dead. It is
not for non-combatants to call them 'cheerful'; because non-combatants
do not understand and never will, not from now until the ending of the
world. 'Not so much of your cheerfulness,' they say, and 'Cut it out
about the brave boys in the trenches.' So it is difficult to describe
them, or to give any idea of what goes on in their minds, for they
belong to another world than the world of peace that we knew, and there
is no code which can decipher their secret, nor any means of
self-expression on their lips.

The Tommy dislikes to show emotion or to brag or to be praised when he
is present. To outsiders and to soldiers of other nations sent to help
him, he likes to make the duties and the dangers seem as disagreeable,
as horrible, and as inevitable as he possibly can, but when he has
discharged a particularly tiresome and obnoxious duty himself or has
met without flinching a terrible danger, he declares his act was
nothing.

The poilu and the Tommy are vastly different. The Frenchman works
himself up into a fanatical state of enthusiasm, and in a wild burst of
excitement dashes into the fray. The Englishman finishes his
cigarette, exchanges a joke with his 'bunkie' and coolly goes 'over the
top.' Both are wonderful fighters with the profoundest admiration for
each other.

The Tommy wants his tea and the officers like to carry their canes and
swagger sticks with them over the top into battle. A brave,
unpretending man, who likes his own ways and wishes to be allowed to
follow them and who is willing to fight and die that others also may be
free--such is the English Tommy. With him it is all a part of the
game, the game of war, and the greatest game of all, the game of life.
He must play his part and play it well.





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Previous: The Poilu



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