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World Wars

The Quality Of Mercy
There is an old saying, Like king, like people, which means t...

The United States Marines
Our flag's unfurled to every breeze From dawn to setti...

The United States At War--at Home
When any nation declares war, it immediately brings upon itse...

Vive La France 1
The determination of the people of Alsace and Lorraine not ...

Where The Four Winds Meet
There are songs of the north and songs of the south, A...

Why The United States Entered The War
The United States was slow to enter the war, because her peop...

The Call To Arms In Our Street
There's a woman sobs her heart out, With her head agains...

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

In Memoriam
[THE FIGHTING YEARS, 1914-1918] Ring out, wild bells, ...

Blocking The Channel
Bruges is an important city of Belgium made familiar to Ameri...

America Comes In
We are coming from the ranch, from the city and the mine, ...

Sergeant York Of Tennessee
People will always differ as to what was the most remarkable ...

Where Are You Going Great-heart?
Where are you going, Great-Heart, With your eager face...

The First To Fall In Battle
During the trench warfare, it was customary to raid the enemy...

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

The Fleet That Lost Its Soul
Sailors and especially fighters on the sea have in all ages p...

The Kaiser's Crown
(VERSAILLES, JANUARY 18, 1871) The wind on the Thames ...

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

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

United States Day
United States Day was celebrated in Paris on April 20, 1918. ...



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.





Next: The Yank

Previous: The Poilu



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