Inspiration from the Trenches

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.”

Two in a hammock try to kiss,
something went wrong, +
They landed like,


A good recipe for a love cake
+ Shady tree
+small seat
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
Wedding Cake


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.
J. Morgan


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


Katie Owen
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 woman:
Then Tobacco, to console Man.
W.E. Dents(?) 18/2/18


Kitty now,
Kitty ever,
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.


2 thoughts on “Inspiration from the Trenches

  1. Pingback: A Family Trip to Vimy Ridge, 1936 | History Research Shenanigans

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