Page 153. " after I have been de-loused "

This usually involved running a lighted candle down the seam of one’s clothes, where the lice were most often located. Another method was to soak clothes in naphthalene. De-lousing was a social activity: it gave the soldiers an opportunity to get together and talk while working on a common goal.

Unfortunately, as soon as the lice were dead their eggs would hatch and their offspring would simply take their place. Since each female louse could produce up to 12 eggs per day, it was generally a losing battle.







Beyond the maddening itching and futile scratching, the lice produced blotchy red marks across the body and left a faintly sour smell. Furthermore, lice were responsible for the spread of trench fever and typhus. Once a louse had sucked the blood of one infected soldier, it spread disease to all subsequent hosts. Due to the very close proximity of the soldiers in the trenches and their poor sanitation, these diseases were rampant, eventually leading to a 15% trench casualty rate. 

Page 155. " in a long line one behind the other, stand the poplars "
Poplar Leaf
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePoplar Leaf - Credit: Willow
Poplar Tree
Public DomainPoplar Tree - Credit: Cherubino

There are 25-35 species of poplars in the world. The most common type is the aspen. They are medium-sized trees that grow 30-75 feet tall, depending upon the species. 

Page 159. " And put out that jar of preserved whortleberries "

Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeWhortleberry - Credit: Anne Burgess
Whortleberries are also known as “bilberries” or “European Blueberries.” They are found throughout Europe and North America. They have been used as herbal medicines for over 1,000 years, and are also eaten in pies, jams, jellies, candy, tarts. 

Page 160. " the chestnut trees in the beer garden opposite "

Modern day beer garden in Munich
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeModern day beer garden in Munich - Credit: Fritz Geller-Grimm
A beer garden is an open air drinking area attached to a pub or bar.  Before refrigeration, breweries would dig cellars to keep their beer cool, and plant chestnut trees on top of the cellars to provide shade.

Beer gardens are particularly common in Germany.

Page 160. " a pound of dripping "

Dripping is a form of lard, commonly obtained from beef or sometimes pork. It is made from the unusable fatty parts of cow and pig carcasses. These ingredients are put in a pot of boiling water with a lot of salt (2g per liter) and then chilled until solidified. 

Before the 20th century, dripping was used in most European cooking, but it has fallen from grace as it is less healthy than vegetable oil. Traditional English Fish and Chips is deep fried in beef dripping.

Page 167. " the enemy line must be broken through in Flanders "

By World War I, the old County of Flanders no longer existed.  The name was used to refer to those parts of northern France and Western Belgium in which the great battles of Ypres, Passchendaele, and the Somme were fought.


Google Map


Flanders Fields
Creative Commons AttributionFlanders Fields - Credit: Tijl Vercaemer
In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Page 170. " cost one mark twenty pfennig "

The pfennig was a German coin in existence from the 9th century until the introduction of the euro in 2002.

It was worth a great deal in the late middle ages, but under the Second Reich it lost value and became a minor component of the Mark currency.