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A Yankee in the Trenches R. Derby Holmes


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Whenever we were taking prisoners back, we always, unless we were in too much of a hurry, took them to the nearest canteen run by the Y.M.C.A. or by one of the artillery companies, and here we would buy English or American fags. And believe me, they liked them. Any one who has smoked the tobacco issued to the German army could almost understand a soldier surrendering just to get away from it.

Usually, too, we bought bread and sweets, if we could stand the price. The Heinies would bolt the food down as though they were half starved. And it was perfectly clear from the way they went after the luxuries that they got little more than the hard necessities of army fare.

At the battle of High Wood the prisoners we took ran largely to very young fellows and to men of fifty or over. Some of the youngsters said they were only seventeen and they looked not over fifteen. Many of them had never shaved.

I think the sight of those war-worn boys, haggard and hard, already touched with cruelty and blood lust, brought home to me closer than ever before what a hellish thing war is, and how keenly Germany must be suffering, along with the rest of us.

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A Yankee in the Trenches
R. Derby Holmes

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