Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

The White Road to Verdun   By: (1887-1958)

Book cover

First Page:



Kathleen Burke Knight of St. Sava, Serbia Officier de l'Instruction Publique, France

This Little Book Is Respectfully And Affectionately Dedicated To Madame Jusserand, Ambassadrice de France in Washington, and to Monsieur Gaston Liebert, Consul General de France

Dr. C. O. Mailloux

And to all my good friends in the United States and Canada, whose sympathy and encouragement have helped me so much in my work.




I The True Philosophers II The Bridge At Meaux III Recruiting Rat Catchers IV A Gun Carriage An Altar V Life Behind The Lines VI Devotion To Animals VII Hunting For Generals VIII An Instance Of Quick Wit IX At The Headquarters Of General Petain X A Meeting With "Forain" XI Value Of Women's Work XII The "Movies" Under Fire XIII A Subterranean Cut XIV Poilu And Tommy XV Abbreviated French XVI The Brown And Black Sons Of France XVII At General Nivelle's Headquarters XVIII Rheims XIX At The Headquarters Of The Generalissimo XX To The Glory Of The Women Of France

The True Philosophers

We left Paris determined to undertake the journey to the Front in the true spirit of the French Poilu, and, no matter what happened, "de ne pas s'en faire." This famous "motto" of the French Army is probably derived from one of two slang sentences, de ne pas se faire des cheveux ("to keep one's hair on,") or de ne pas se faire de la bile, or, in other words, not to upset one's digestion by unnecessary worrying. The phrase is typical of the mentality of the Poilu, who accepts anything and everything that may happen, whether it be merely slight physical discomfort, or intense suffering, as part of the willing sacrifice which he made on the day that, leaving his homestead and his daily occupation, he took up arms "offering his body as a shield to defend the heart of France."

Everything might be worse than it is, says the Poilu, and so he has composed a Litany. Every regiment has a different version, but always with the same basis.

"Of two things one is certain: Either you're mobilised or you're not mobilised. If you're not mobilised, there is no need to worry; if you are mobilised, of two things one is certain: Either you're behind the lines or you're on the Front. If you're behind the lines there is no need to worry; if you're on the Front, of two things one is certain: Either you're resting in a safe place or you're exposed to danger. If you're resting in a safe place there is no need to worry; if you're exposed to danger, of two things one is certain: Either you're wounded or you're not wounded. If you're not wounded, there is no need to worry; if you are wounded, of two things one is certain: Either you're wounded seriously or you're wounded slightly. If you're wounded slightly there is no need to worry; if you're wounded seriously, of two things one is certain: Either you recover or you die. If you recover there is no need to worry; if you die you can't worry."

When once past the "Wall of China," as the French authorities call the difficult approaches to the war zone, Meaux was the first town of importance at which we stopped. We had an opportunity to sample the army bread, as the driver of a passing bread wagon flung a large round loaf into our motor.

According to all accounts received from the French soldiers who are in the prison camps of Germany, one of the greatest hardships is the lack of white bread, and they have employed various subterfuges in the endeavour to let their relatives know that they wish to have bread sent to them.

Some of the Bretons writing home nickname bread "Monsieur Barras," and when there was a very great shortage they would write to their families: "Ce pauvre Monsieur Barras ne se porte pas tres bien a present." (M. Barras is not very well at present.) Finally the Germans discovered the real significance of M. Barras and they added to one of the letters: "Si M. Barras ne se porte pas tres bien a present c'est bien la faute de vos amis les Anglais... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books