While doing research at the Canadian War Museum’s Research Centre for my paper on the Vimy Ridge Memorial and the Allward plaster maquettes, I ran into quite a few fascinating sources, particularly photographs of the monument in France under construction. Among a few collections of pamphlets, tickets, photo albums and postcards from Canadian pilgrimages to Vimy in 1936 for the monument’s unveiling, I ran across this fascinating little book. It’s a small, leather-bound notebook, considerably stained by water and perhaps other things. It’s full of sketches and short, inspiring, romantic and sometimes hilarious quotations, most of them dated in 1917. I believe that it was actually in the trenches with one of the soldiers, a George K.C. Owens. I recognize a few of them, and many of them are written in different hands, so I imagine that this notebook was passed around and people would contribute something to it. It was clearly a group effort. Here are a few of the more legible ones that I found particularly touching:
“A place for my name in your album,
A place for my name in your heart,
A place for us both in heaven,
Where true friends never part.”
A good recipe for a love cake
+ Shady tree
waist well squeezed,
+ lips well pressed
+6 ozs love
Mix well for three hours
When far away by love you’re carried
And to some handsome fellow married
Think of me for old times sake
And send me a piece of your
I wish I was the China cup
From which you drink your tea
And every time you take a sip
It would mean a kiss for me.
A table-spoon is a clumsy thing.
A tea-spoon much the sweeter
But of all the spoons that I enjoy
A sofa-spoon’s the sweetest
The devil sends the winds To blow the ladies skirts behind But god is just + sents the dust To blind the bad mans eye M.J. Eccles 3rd Oct. 1917
age 1/2 past 4.
(possible the author of the notebook’s little sister? “Katherine Owen” was the donator of this notebook and others.)
Somme Stunt L. Coldrick France 26-5-17
Man was made first:
Then Tobacco, to console Man.
W.E. Dents(?) 18/2/18
Owen now but not forever. L. Ho—-?
a lonely spot.
By one who knows?
Thou shalt not covet they neighbour’s wife.
His ass thou shalt not slaughter.
But thank the Lord it isn’t a crime
To covet thy neighbour’s daughter.
Blessed is the man
That sitteth on a pin
For he shall surely rise again
It is very hard to lose a friend
When your heart is full of hope,
But its harder still to find the towel
When your eyes are full of soap.
Isabel [5?8?]- 2 -18
Man was made of dust
Woman saw dust and liked it.
(In a different hand) Ma! bring in the Vacuum Cleaner!
Never make love in a cornfield.
Remember that corn has eyes.
love, Isabel 18/5/17
A stitch in time saves a draught.
Good girls should love their brothers. But girls so good have grown That they love other brothers Much better than their own.