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:

P1250384

“Her”

P1250388

“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.”
-B.Hollis
19/5/17


P1250390
Two in a hammock try to kiss,
something went wrong, +
They landed like,
this
(upsidedown)
B.Hollis
19/5/17

P1250392

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

P1250396

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

P1250401

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

P1250402

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

P1250407

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

P1250405

Katie Owen
age 1/2 past 4.
KO.
(possible the author of the notebook’s little sister? “Katherine Owen” was the donator of this notebook and others.)

P1250418

Somme Stunt L. Coldrick France 26-5-17

P1250437

Man was made first:
Then woman:
Then Tobacco, to console Man.
W.E. Dents(?) 18/2/18

P1250414

Kitty now,
Kitty ever,
Owen now but not forever. L. Ho—-?

P1250415

.
a lonely spot.
By one who knows?

P1250449

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.

P1250448

P1250442

P1250422

Blessed is the man
That sitteth on a pin
For he shall surely rise again

P1250432

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

P1250438

Man was made of dust
Woman saw dust and liked it.

(In a different hand) Ma! bring in the Vacuum Cleaner!

P1250441

Never make love in a cornfield.
Remember that corn has eyes.
love, Isabel 18/5/17

P1250411

A stitch in time saves a draught.

P1250427

Good girls should love their brothers. But girls so good have grown That they love other brothers Much better than their own.

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2 Responses to Inspiration from the Trenches

  1. What a great post! Hilarious, and yet so sad. I wonder how many of the boys and men who wrote in those pages made it back home?

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

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