Thursday, September 21, 2017

Slaves in War Time (1917)

From the February 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

During the past couple of years the workers of “this country of ours” have been hearing a great deal about "poison gas” through those journals of "mud and blood,” the "Daily Mail,” "Sunday Chronicle,” "Daily News,” and "Manchester Guardian,” and others of that great heap of refuse which is spread broadcast daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly, to the detriment of the wage-slaves who buy them.

This "poison gas" is the gas which is being used by the various armed nations against their opponents on the European field of slaughter. But we Socialists draw attention to another kind of "poison gas” the doses of "mental chloroform” daily given out to the wage workers by parson, politician, and journalist—all of them hirelings of the master class.

These individuals, in order to gain life’s necessaries, "gas” the workers with their fairy stories concerning man’s activities and his relations with other men in the material world, and fool them with the "eternal life” phantasy.

Of course, it is not to the interest of our masters to have editorials dealing with and exposing this brand of "poison gas.” Such work is left to the working class itself; hence the reason and the need for the Socialist Standard.

It is surprising to find how many workers are always ready to believe anything the papers and their masters tell them. We have heard a lot of cant and hypocrisy mouthed by parson, pressman, and politician on "Equality of Sacrifice.” They wax quite eloquent on "everyone doing his bit.” It is, however, rather hard to find what most of these hirelings and their masters (the employing class) have sacrificed. For instance, what have the food manufacturers, the shipping companies, or the armament firms sacrificed? Their profits?—not likely ! You see what is really meant by their cant phrases is sacrifice for the "lower classes.”

Everyone nowadays is aware of the huge profits that are being raked in by our "good” masters. Consequently, to the workers who have started to think for themselves the question naturally arises, "For what are we fighting?” But the reply, of course, rests upon what is meant by "we.” If "we” means the workers, then the only reply can be, a more intense form of slavery in the future even than in the past, greater poverty and misery for the many, and an outlook eloquent of strikes and revolts of the workers against their miserable conditions.

On the other hand, if "we” stands for the master class, then the fighting is for the control of trade routes and the securing of further markets in which to sell their surplus manufactures ; the gaining of territory in which to "collar” the natural resources, and the obtaining of cheap native labour. In other words, it means big profits now, with the chance of even bigger profits in the future.

Are we not constantly having these facts brought to our minds by flaring newspaper headlines, such as "How to Capture Germany’s Trade,” "How Great Britain may Increase Her Share of the World’s Commerce,” and so on? Then, again, have we not got such things in our midst as the Anti-German League, whose object is the smashing of the industries of Germany? Have not "our’ politicians told us that as soon as the war is over we must be ready to smash the Germans on the field of commerce after having smashed them on the field of blood?

Of course, in order that the state of affairs may not be too easily seen, our masters and their agents (the "patriots”) lie and bully and invent such statements to gull the workers as that this war is "a fight for Liberty and Freedom,” and “a struggle to suppress German Militarism.” And this, mind you, when the masters are so rapidly increasing militarism here.

Then we have the good old catch cry of the violation of Belgium's neutrality, as though any country hesitates to break treaties and make "scraps of paper” of them when it suits their interests to do so. This is admitted by that "patriot," Harold Begbie, of “Fall In" fame, when he says ("Daily Chronicle", Aug. 5, 1914), “At every Christian frontier you can pick up a broken treaty and a dishonoured bond.”

Then England is supposed to be fighting for the “rights of small nations,” this after what happened to the Dutch Republics a few years ago. Concerning this we might with interest read what was said at that time by Mr. Merriman, who was then an English member of the Cape Assembly. He was reported thus:
   I say “never again" will England hold the title she did as the friend of small peoples. When it is a question of tyranny towards some small powers, how can she say anything? The Transvaal and the Free State will be flung in her teeth.
—“The Speaker," Oct. 27th, 1900. 
And to show how kind-hearted this country was we were told :
    We went into war for equal rights, and we were prosecuting it for annexation. Wc went into the country for philanthropy and we remained in it for burglary.—Mr. Lloyd George, reported in the “Manchester Guardian,” July 26th, 1900.
All the flowery excuses which have been spread broadcast since August 1914 are but dust thrown in the eyes of the toilers to prevent them from seeing the truth.

Some very enlightening articles have recently made their appearance in the columns of the anti-working class papers. One in the “Weekly Dispatch” for March 19th, 1916, which told of the huge profits that have been, and are still being, made owing to war conditions, commenced with this valuable piece of evidence:
   In this country millions have been made by companies who hold the lives of the civilian population in the hollow of their hands.
This knocks the bottom out of the statement so often made that we are fighting for our liberties. What liberties are possessed by any person whose life is held in the hollow of some other person’s hand ?

In the same paper for Dec. 24th last another “war profits” article appeared. To give that part which deals with armament firms, would not, perhaps, be out of place. For such people a "good” war is a heaven-sent blessing.

Munition profits—in the early months of the war at any rate—were fabulous. Recent figures in some cases, are not accessible, but here are the facts of a few typical companies' change in fortune:

Latest Profits.
Pre-War Profits.
Cammell Laird
Curtis and Harvey
Webbley and Scott
(6 months only.)

From such instances we can see how well the master class can afford to invest a portion of their profits in the War Loan at 5 per cent. Yet they would have us believe they are making a sacrifice. A sacrifice at 5 per cent. smells good. The fellows who are making the sacrifices are the workers, who are being used as food for cannon, and who, when they return broken from the war, are not even given the bare means of existence.

How often do we find in the daily and weekly Press such headlines as "Starved under Hun Rule”? Yet what about the thousands of starvation cases under the rule of the Brit-hun ?

That high-class organ of piffle and bluff, the “Daily Dispatch,” on Aug. 9th last commenced its editorial in the following strain :
  Among the good resolutions we all made in entering this war was one that the scandalous treatment that in past wars was meted out to our broken soldiers should not this time disgrace our national fame.
 We recalled Mr. Robert Blatchford's piercing remark about “the candidate for the British workhouse charging the guns at Balaclava,” and nothing had bitten deeper into the nation’s conscience than the spectacle of war-worn veterans, with medals on their chests, selling matches and bootlaces at back doors. We rightly resolved, at any rate, that that mutt never happen again.
After pondering over the latter part the only conclusion one can come to is that our masters never expected any of their warriors, even the wrecked ones, to return. Of course, the attempt is made to convey the impression that every provision is made for those of our “Tommies" who come back maimed, but does anyone with the least common sense believe that? No! "Equality of sacrifice” is a fine phrase for rogues to use and fools to swallow.

The shareholders in shipping, tea, armament, coal, iron, milling and other companies, are obtaining dividends of from 35 to 40 per cent, without ever having done a day's work to earn it. On the other hand, the man who has been broken in fighting for such shareholders gets a pension of 8d. a day and is buried a pauper. Even this is not the worst, for the "Weekly Dispatch” for Dec. 20th says there are "50,000 broken soldiers without pensions."

One has only to go through the daily papers to find scores of cases regarding the treatment of the broken Tommy. Space admits only of a few in the present article, but each goes to prove our contention. Thus we read in our masters’ papers accounts like these :
  At a meeting of the Redruth Urban Council a member declared that numbers of soldiers, broken in the war, called on him every day stating that they were unable to secure employment of any kind and had to go to the workhouse to get food.
—“Manchester Evening News,” Feb. 3rd, 1916.
  A case was reported this week where two heroes found their way into the workhouse because they were unable to get any allowance from the War Office. It is this sort of thing that does a great deal of harm and in itself is entirely indefensible.
Reynolds’s,” Feb. 13th, 1916.
Of course, we know the "harm” our masters are afraid of. It is not that the soldiers may "demand” a mere allowance, but that the above treatment may help in a large degree to awaken the workers from their slumbers, in which case the wage slaves, becoming intelligent and understanding the class struggle, will not waste their time demanding anything, but will turn their energies toward the capture of the political machinery, in order to abolish capitalism and its many evils.

"A grateful country will never forget you.” So runs the cry. The following shows the amount of truth in it:

“I am a discharged soldier,” said a man who asked a West London magistrate for advice, “I have served my King and country for twelve years, eight months. I have been in France gassed and wounded. I came out time-expired, and went back again for 180 days in the Royal Garrison Artillery. Since I have been discharged I have only had two sums of 10s. from the Soldiers and Sailors Association. I have been sleeping out for several nights and have had no food for two or three days." The man, who looked very ill, had had no pension, and the magistrate said if the story was true it was a case of very great hardship, and directed the court missionary to investigate the case, and, in the meantime, to give the man a little help.
—“News of the World," Oct.8th, 1916.
And in the Manchester edition of the "Daily Dispatch” for Aug. 18th last there was a photograph of a man standing alongside a street organ, and underneath were the words : “Not receiving the pension due to him, a Manchester soldier, disabled at Ypres, turns a street barrel organ for a living.”

These cases go to show the attitude of the ruling class toward the workers, and are irresistible evidence that it was rank hypocrisy when they tried to make us believe that they intended to "make good ’ to the "heroes.”

Those of the discharged "Tommies” who can work are treated in a similar way. The following, although it has been quoted in these columns before, will show the truth of my statement :
   Army and Navy men wanted who have done their bit; bring discharge papers ; salary 28s. a week to start with."—“Daily Chronicle,” July 21st, 1916. 
There is magnificent generosity for our gallant warriors ; 28s. a week for those "who have  done their bit”!  One would like to ask, where is their country now? The truth is the workers of all lands, whether they be Germans, Russians, Frenchmen, Belgians, Englishmen, or Italians, have no country ; they are but the slaves of those who own and control society’s means of production.

The war, we Socialists hope, will be the means of enlightening large numbers of our fellow workers as to their true position in society.

To us the only hope of freedom, comfort, and happiness lies in "A system of society bused upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means, and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community." And this can only be brought about by the workers learning and understanding the Socialist position.
H. C. A.

Unity in the United States. (1917)

From the March 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

Once again the Unity cry has been filling the organs of the S.P. of A. and the S.L.P. of A. The latter party through a decreasing membership and vote has given a more willing ear to unity than it once did. But the spectacle of that party negotiating on unity with the organisation they are ever bitterly denouncing is a most ridiculous one.

A vote was taken in the S.P. of A. as to whether they should appoint delegates to meet the Socialist Labour Party’s delegates in conference on terms of unity, and it resulted in favour by 20,000 to 5,000. The Conference sat in New York City on January 6 & 7, 1917. The delegates for the Socialist Party were Louis B. Boudin, Geo. H. Goebel, Chas. H. Maurer, James Oneal and Samuel Beardsley. The Socialist Labour Party delegates: Arthur E. Reimer, Rudolph Katz, Boris Reinstein, Caleb Harrison and Arnold Peterson.

After coming to an agreement on the question of aim and reform policies the question of the attitude towards economic organisation came forward.

The Socialist Labour Party insisted on the following statement being adopted to bind the unified body to Industrial Unionism:
   Recognition and declaration in favor of the fact that the emancipation of the working class from wage slavery cannot be achieved by political action only; and therefore the unqualified acceptance of the fact that it s absolutely indispensable for that purpose to have the working class organised in the economic arena on the lines of what is known in this country as pro-political or Socialist Industrial Unionism; and that consequently, it is the duty of the party of Socialism to teach the essential principles of Industrial Unionism in order to enable the membership to advocate these principles both inside of the existing craft unions—to the extent as it may still be possible—and outside of the same, and thus carry on that educational propaganda which will sooner or later crystallise in a world-wide army of industrially organised workers.
   Declaration to the effect that the proposed united Party condemns the principle of craft unionism which defeats the very objects that the workers, consciously or otherwise, strive to attain.
   Declaration to the effect that the Socialists, while reserving their right to criticise and expose all wrongfully constructed and conducted labor organisations, owe it as a duty to stand on the side of the workmen whenever a bona fide strike or other conflict for improved conditions of labor occurs, either as spontaneous action of the workers or as a result of action taken by any labor organisation whatever.
These resolutions, of course, are unsound. Industrial Unionism is not essential or even useful to working-class emancipation. To call it “Socialist” is misleading as it is not necessary to be a Socialist to join. Styling it pro-political is untrue, as the S.L.U. holds “that the economic arm is the more important, first, because it is indispensable to the revolutionary act and next because it is the frame of the government of the Co-operative Commonwealth.” (“Unity,” by DeLeon. Page 23.) The resolutions advocate boring from within—in the craft unions, a line of action which the S.L.P. never tire of condemning on paper. The Socialist Party delegates refused to accept the whole thing. They offered in its place the complete resolution on economic organisation adopted by the Stuttgart International Congress in 1907. This resolution reads as follows:
  To emancipate the proletariat completely from the bonds of intellectual, political and economic serfdom; the political and economic struggle are alike necessary. If the activity of the Socialist Party is exercised more particularly in the domain of the political struggle of the proletariat, that of the unions displays itself in the domain of the economic struggle of the workers. The Unions and the Party have therefore an equally important task to perform in the struggle for political emancipation. Each of the two organisations has its distinct domain, defined by its nature and within whose borders it should enjoy independent control of its line of action, but there is an ever-widening domain in the proletarian struggle of the classes in which they can reap advantages only by concerted action and by co-operation between the Party and the trade unions. As a consequence the proletarian struggle would be carried on more successfully and with more important results if the relations between the unions and the Party are strengthened without infringing the necessary unity of the trade unions.
  The Congress declares that it is to the interest of the working class in every country that close and permanent relations should be established between the unions and the Party.
   It is the duty of the Party and of the trade unions to render moral support the one to the other and to make use only of those means which may help forward the emancipation of the proletariat. When divergent opinions arise between the two organisations as to the effectiveness of certain tactics they should arrive by discussion at an agreement.
  The unions will not fully perform their duty in the struggle for the emancipation of the workers unless a thoroughly Socialist spirit inspires their policy. It is the duty of the Party to help the unions in their work of raising the workers and of ameliorating their social conditions. In its parliamentary action, the Party must vigorously support the demands of the unions.
   The Congress declares that the development of the capitalist system of production, the increased concentration of the means of production, the growing alliance of the employers, the increasing dependence of particular trades upon the totality of bourgeois society would reduce trade unions to impotency if, concerning themselves about nothing more than trade interests, they took their stand on corporate selfishness and admitted the theory of harmony of interests between labour and capital.
   The Congress is of opinion that the unions will be able to more successfully carry on their struggle against exploitation and oppression, in proportion as their organisations are more unified, as their benefit system is improved, as the funds necessary for their struggle are better supplied, as their members gain a clearer conception of economic relations and are inspired by the Socialist ideal with greater enthusiasm and devotion. 
The S.L.P. delegation wished a clause added to this Stuttgart resolution as follows:
   In line with the above resolution and carrying out the spirit and applying the general principles expressed therein, the United Party declared that the proper application of it to American conditions calls for the Party’s pointing out the fallacies and shortcomings of the craft union form of organisation and the necessity for adopting the Socialist industrial onion form of economic organisation.
Around this resolution much discussion took place. The S.P. delegates claimed that the Stuttgart resolution did not mean industrial unionism. The S.L.P. delegates claimed that it was against craft unionism. “The thing to be done'" said Boris Reinstein (S.L.P. delegate), was to urge the workers to accept class unionism." In spite of this, however, he and other delegates of his party advocated industrial unionism—not class unionism.

“History shows,'’Said Reinstein (S.L.P.), “that no ruled class ever overthrew a ruling class without first gaining economic power, a power which the working class could only develop through industrial unionism.”

Such a statement shows how little the Socialist Labour Party understand history. Economic power depends for its full and complete exercise upon the possession of political sovereignty. And how little the working class could develop economic power by means of industrial unionism is another of “the secrets of the underworld.”

A deadlock was reached on both the S.L.P. and Stuttgart resolutions, 4 votes being given in favour and 4 against.

When they discussed the form of the united organisation the federative plan offered by the S.L.P. and also organic unity of the S.P. of A. was rejected. When Boudin finally drew up a basis for common electoral action the S.L.P. delegates commenced “bargaining” by offering to accept it if the S.P. delegates would accept the S.L.P. resolution on economic action.

On the second day of the Conference the end came. The S.L.P. “bargaining” failed and the S.P. idea of swallowing up the S.L.P. also died. In the editorial of the “Weekly People" (Jan. 13,1917) from which issue all the resolutions quoted have been taken, the S.L.P. claim that rock upon which the Unity Conference went to pieces was industrial unionism. Thereby showing conclusively that the thing which keeps the two parties apart is nothing to do with Socialist policy or Socialist aims—Industrial Unionism being a side issue of no value to working-class emancipation.

The attitude taken by our Party years ago still bolds good—that only by having a Socialist membership, and therefore a Socialist policy, can a real Socialist Party be secured. Neither the S.P. or S.L.P. of America fill the requirements.
Adolph Kohn

"The Glories of War" by a soldier in the trenches. (1917)

From the April 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard
We are indebted to the Editors of "The Ploughshare" for permission to reprint the following sketches, which appeared in the March issue of the Quaker Magazine of Social Reconstruction.— Ed. Com. Socialist Standard.
We guarantee the genuineness of the two sketches which follow. They are written by. a soldier known to us, one who expresses himself as grateful for the work we are doing. Shame on us to accept thanks for this when so much more could be done!

The glories of war! How this great illusion has been kept up in former days! What volumes of romance have been written about it! But now war is stripped of all its glory and romance; it stands bare and hideous in the sight of thinking men, and to the soldiers it is an indescribable horror, breaking the mind and body and eating into the soul.

“Going into action" has always been a favourite theme with romantic writers; it lends itself to vivid word-painting about courage, determination, and sacrifice. Yet going into action to-day spells terror and despair to the men engaged. They know that in the awfulness of modern warfare few survive. Let me, therefore, give a brief description of an engagement as it occurs at the Front to-day.

The regiment has been at rest in billets a few miles behind the firing lines. Here we clean up, recoup, and receive fresh drafts to replace former casualties. A fairly easy time is passed until one morning the Colonel announces on parade that we are going up to the trenches again that night. Now all is activity and excitement; rifles are inspected and ammunition served out. New gas helmets replace the old ones, and “tear-shell" goggles are distributed; some of the men receive trench dubs— “daggers" ; the bombers have the latest instructions read to them. We fill our water-bottles and get the iron rations of bully beef and “dog-biscuits.”

As the day wears on, some of the men become reserved and quiet. The more thoughtful begin to ponder on what is in store for them. Some already feel they are beneath the ground. Poor wretches! perhaps the gods are kind in not giving us a glimpse of the future! But all contemplation soon ceases, for presently the bugles sound the “fall in.” We hastily put on our full equipment, line up in the ranks, and await the Colonel's instructions.

Along he comes, attended by the adjutant and officers. He looks pale and anxious. “Men," he says, “we are going up to the trenches now. I hope you will all give a good account of yourselves, and may God have us in his care.“ The band plays “Eternal Father, strong to save," and as we sing it some cry like children. Tears are in the eyes of all. We think of our dear ones at home, and many a silent prayer is offered up. Some ask themselves in thought: “Is there really a good God to allow this awful suffering and carnage?" The chaplain reads a prayer which seems like the burial service. Then the bugles sound again, hoarse orders are shouted, and away we march as night is quickly falling.

On, on we tramp, staggering beneath the heavy load of equipment, slipping in mud and slush, stumbling in holes. “How much farther is it, chum ? ” I ask the man next to me. He cannot reply, he is crying bitterly. Now we approach the danger zone. The artillery is blazing away and the noise makes talking impossible. We break step, put out our fags, and begin to march in “extended order.” Suddenly there is a roar and a crash—a shell has fallen just behind us! Happily no one is hurt. Then I see a man in front of me fall, caught by a spent bullet. He shrieks in agony, and the stretcher bearers come to his rescue.

Now we march along in silence, absolute silence, dumb men driven to the slaughter. We are nearing the communication trench. The sky is lit up with the flashes of thousands of guns, and the star shells shed a lurid glow over the field of battle. Shells are bursting near us, for the enemy is shelling the roads. Several men fall, hit by shrapnel. We quicken our pace to get the cover of the trenches. The wounded are being brought from a field dressing station and quickly put in Red Cross vans. As the stretchers pass us, the poor wretches groan in agony.

We are now in the assembly trench; it is knee-deep in mud ; we slip and stumble about, advancing in single file towards the front. My company is to be stationed in a rear trench, but the others advance to the front. We are allotted our positions by the Captain, and we stand there all night asking : “Will the dawn never come ? "

All next day we stand there; some have gone into dug-outs to try to get a few hours sleep, but this is almost impossible, for the earth shakes from the vibrations of the artillery. The lice crawl all over the body, driving one nearly frantic, and the rats are in swarms and run over us. But there are some corpses lying out on the top, with plenty of rats around them, so they won't go hungry!

The next day we are told an attack is to be made at dawn. On this I notice a weird change comes over the men; they become strangely religious as the fear of death comes near. The Catholics are telling their beads, the others reading their Testaments and Bibles. Some are crying, and all are silent—petrified with cold and horror.

As the hour for attack draws near, the officers become pale and anxious. They keep looking at their watches. They try to smile as they shake hands with the sergeants, whispering “Good-bye." in case the worst happens.

The noise of the artillery is now awful; every gun, from a trench mortar to a big naval gun, is blazing away, smashing down barbed wire entanglements and parapets. The world seems to have gone raving mad. In an hour it will be dawn, and then—?

The men in the front trench have now fixed their bayonets, and thrown off unnecessary equipment. They dare not look at each other; steel helmets are firmly fixed as they await the word. Suddenly a young officer pushes his way to a place prepared in the parapet for jumping over. In his hand he holds a whistle. He gives a shrill blast, and is over the top, the others scrambling after him, and at this moment the artillery ceases.

Through the periscopes we watch the progress. Some are falling and throw up their arms and spin round as the bullets strike them. Some are dashing madly on. The machine-guns of the enemy are spitting forth thousands of fiery bullets. The men still unhurt have passed through the German entanglements and are on their parapets. The bombs and bayonets are busy. Strong men are falling like corn before the sickle. Now the fighting is in the enemy's trenches. Both explosions and revolver shots are heard. Our men have captured the trench and are consolidating it. In “ No-man’s-land ” the stretcher-bearers are busy, dragging in the dead and wounded. The doctors in the trench dressing station are hastily bandaging wounds and injecting “anti-lockjaw” serum. The sight is indescribable. Groans and cries rend the air as the dead and wounded lie together in the dressing-station. An ashy pallor is on their faces.

And now the enemy observers see that we occupy the trench and immediately signal to their artillery. Hundreds of shells now pour upon our comrades, smashing up the position they have occupied and burying them beneath the debris. And thus the hideous game goes on and many brave lives are sacrificed. The hidden artillery has robbed them of victory; for in this trench warfare neither side conquers.

In the rear trench we shiver through the long days and night ; some of us have lost our brothers and comrades ; we curse the war and the folly of the men who make it. “Why were we born ?’’ I have heard men say.

Some get “trench feet” : others contract “trench fever’’ and scabies; some begin to develop pneumonia and consumption. We lean against the side of the trench, our teeth a-chatter, and try to sleep, when suddenly a gong rings, for a gas attack has been launched. We hastily don our gas helmets and “stand to" .

'The enemy trench mortars are throwing devilish bombs. We reply, dealing death and destruction to the unseen foe. . . .

At last we are going to be relieved, and another regiment is to take our place We begin slowly to thread our way through the communication trench. A sergeant reads the roll: to many names there is no reply. The remnants reach the road behind the trenches. It is pitch dark and the rain is falling in torrents. Most of us are limping, and some have taken off their boots. We are caked in mud from head to foot. There is no music now, no “glory of war,” no cheering crowds. We are but the human fuel that feeds the engine of Armageddon. On, on we stagger back to camp. Some relieve their emotions by weeping. The man next to me is kissing the image of Christ on his rosary, the officers are silent ; too weak and worn even to give orders. . . .

There are no cheers now when we pass other regiments going up to the trenches, as there were in the early days of the war. We look at each other and say, “Poor devils! God help them.’’

As day advances we reach the camp. Worn out and aching with rheumatism, we stagger to the tents and fall asleep. And in that sleep there are some who dream of a wiser age to come, when man will have learnt the truth about the “glory of war.”

We who are the victims of this carnage know that this “glory” does not exist. Would to God that the warring nations could know the same! — say I. Yes, the poor soldier is the victim all the time. There is no animosity between the fighting men. Wounded British, Germans, and French fraternise with each other, exchange cigarettes, and sympathise with the others’ wounds and pains. I have seen German prisoners walking arm-in-arm with our soldiers.

“Going into action”! Yes, let us go into action, but not to slay and torture, but to build up a happier and brighter world redeemed from the folly and brutality of war.

We sat in our dug-out reading a fragment of an old newspaper; it contained a vivid description of a casualty station written by a well-known newspaper owner. In glowing phrases it told of the cheerfulness of the wounded and the laughter and happiness which prevailed in the “wards.” In short, from the description, one would really believe that men loved being torn and maimed, and that they were in a place of amusement instead of a human shamble-house which baffles description.

My chum tossed the paper to me and said: “Ye gods! that people should believe that! To think that those at home are so gulled! If they could only see a dressing or ambulance station for half an hour, such a demand for peace would be made that no Government could stop it.”

My chum was right. I will now try to describe a casualty station, but no words of mine can suffice; only a Zola or a Dickens could give even a faint description of the horrors which one sees —horrors that eat into the soul and make one wonder whether it is a hideous scene from Inferno or a reality.

Imagine a large field with about twenty marquees erected for the reception of the wounded. The bitter wind blows through the canvas, and a solemn air of death and suffering pervades the whole. (When I was there, nurses and doctors were nearly knee-deep in mud.) The never-ending stream of Red Cross motors is coming and going. The R.A.M.C. men swiftly and gently lift the stretchers from the care and take them to the reception marquee. Many of the wounded are groaning, and some are already dead. They are smothered with mud, while fear and pain are written on their pale faces. A doctor makes a hurried examination, then each case is taken to the “ward ” allotted to that class of injury. Here the wounded are stripped, their clothes thrown aside or sent to the destructor. Now the ward- doctor makes a minute examination.

The surgeons are busy in the operating tent; as case after case comes and goes, shattered legs and arms are quickly amputated. The bucket outside contains hands and feet, pieces of jaw, and the rest. I see an orderly hurrying along carrying a big white leg to the destructor, thinking nothing of this, for it is an hourly occurrence.

Have you ever seen a butcher after a day’s killing? Well, that is how the surgeons appear. They work day and night, clever, self sacrificing men, appalled at the awfulness of their duties. The nurses appear somewhat hysterical, the result of doing hours of arduous duty and bloody work. Their aprons are saturated with gore. In the wards are the mangled and the dying. Many cases are too awful for operation, and nothing can be done to relieve them, so the orderly injects morphia and the poor wretches pass quietly away.

A priest is in attendance; sometimes his words console the one passing hence; but I, who have seen many men die, say unhesitatingly that, instead of dying gladly (as the corrupt Press declares), they do so with appalling regret, feeling inwardly that cruel war is wrong, and that they ought not to die so young.

But the ambulance train has arrived to take the sufferers to England. The most dangerous cases are placed on the train first. What a sigh of relief is given as they know that they are going to “Blighty”—away from the infernal scenes of carnage and slaughter! Now the train is nearly full of “lying cases,” and the sitting cases come next An orderly is leading some men—they are blind; and here are some men apparently unharmed—what is the matter with them? They are deaf and dumb from shellshock. Next come the insane—they are strongly guarded and locked up in a special compartment. Some are shouting and raving—it is nothing, only war!

A blast from the whistle and the train is off. Doctors and nurses give a sigh of relief, but it is of short duration, for'“gas cases” are arriving in the hospital. The poor wretches are propped up in the open air; they are struggling and gasping for breath. Some are already turning blue as the muceous fluid slowly rises in the lungs and chokes them. Some are dead and fall over with faces distorted and hands clenched in their awful struggle. . . .

In a field at the back the dead are lying; they, are clad in their shirts with a blanket thrown over them. Let us pull aside the blanket and look! The first has no face—a big blob of wadding hides the mangled features. The next is white as marble—he has bled to death. 'The next has been shot through the brain; it took him three days to die, poor chap, and he was conscious to the end. How tenacious some are of life!

The “sanitary men” are busy tying up the corpses, whose shroud is a blanket and a bit of string. A few handfuls of chloride of lime are thrown over the naked bodies, and sometimes in the mouths. The sanitary men work in silence, they are so horrified and appalled: see! that young man’s hair is going white, and there is a strange look in his eyes.

The corpses are pulled about as the slaughter-man pulls his dead sheep. There are post-mortem examinations on some of them, and for this purpose intestines and pieces of lung are in a bucket outside a tent, so that the young surgeons may get good practice.

The dead are now ready for burying. Four old French peasants are digging graves. There is not time to dig them very deep, and they fill with water at once. Quickly the corpses are dropped in the water as the parson reads a few words from the Burial Service and the wet earth is thrown in.

As we go back to the hospital the night is made hideous with the groans and shrieks of men in agony. Sleep is often impossible, and sometimes I have been awake all night hearing the awful cries of these poor men. Many are passing away, and as dawn begins to break a silence reigns from which we know that these mud-stained, weary warriors have passed into the Great Beyond.

And so it goes on, day after day, week after week, the never-ending stream of maimed and mangled bodies. Strong, happy, smiling men are knocked into bundles of bloody rags!

Yes, the Press and politicians may talk of the “glory of war,” but the casualty stations tell the true tale. And when that wealthy newspaper owner writes about the wounded, let him tell the real truth, and not deceive the public with cruel lies, which help to lengthen the war and thus bring death and indescribable suffering to thousands.

This is what we in the trenches think!