Page 227. " But I am suspicious until I recognize our helmets "
German Soldier at the Battle of the Somme, 1916
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeGerman Soldier at the Battle of the Somme, 1916 - Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R05148

The German M1918 helmet (which they were most likely wearing) had a unique, steep round shape with a prominent bill.  View a picture


Page 228. " On the fire-step stand some snipers "

Sniping was very important in WWI, as opposing armies would often be at a complete standstill in their trenches; during such periods, snipers could fire at anyone who stuck his head above ground. 

At the beginning of the war, civilian hunting rifles were used as the standard military rifles were not effective at long range.  Soon, both sides developed better sniper rifles and invented periscope sights that greatly increased their ability to operate safely.  Many snipers kept tallies of the men they had killed, and they were often promoted on the basis of their scores.

Page 228. " That's found a billet "
Public DomainBillet

A billet is a soldier's living quarters. Historically, the term referred to a civilian dwelling whose occupants were required to put up a soldier.

When not on combat duty, soldiers are generally billeted in barracks or garrisons, although in some armies soldiers with families are permitted to maintain a home off-post.

Page 234. " one of them plays, the other sings "An der Weser." "

An der Weser is a German folk song. The title translates as 'On the Weser (river).'  

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The Weser river flows north through Germany and meets the North Sea at Bremerhaven.


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Page 238. " Tjaden retorts in the well known phrase from Goethe's “Götz von Berlichingen” "

Goetz von Berlichingen (1773) is a play by  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It is a dramatized representation of the life of adventurer and poet Goetz, who lived in Germany around 1480–1562.

When asked to surrender his castle while under seige by the Imperial Army, Goetz delivered the famous line, “Er kann mich im Arsche lecken!”. Roughly translated, the phrase means "Kiss my arse!"


Page 239. " Above us swells the silken cover like a baldaquin "

A baldaquin, or baldachin, is the cover over an altar or throne.

The structure originated as a cloth covering but turned into a permanent architectural feature, particularly found over the altar in cathedrals.


German Baldaquin
Creative Commons AttributionGerman Baldaquin - Credit: Andreas Praefcke


Page 239. " in wheelbarrows and perambulators "

A perambulator is a pram, a device for transporting infants. 

Page 239. " the French certainly will not fire on a town in which there are still inhabitants "

Artillery attacks or aerial bombings on civilians were all too common in WWI, on both sides. German Zeppelin raids on London were among the most destructive, damaging large areas of the city and killing hundreds.

The idea of “total war” held that the enemy was an entire nation, not just an army. In one particularly horrendous case, a French unit used German maps to locate a circus tent and then bombed it, killing 120 German civilians, most of them children.

By the end of the war, civilian deaths totaled 7 million.

Page 240. " Our faces are covered with duck-weed and mud, but the cover is good. "

Duckweeds in Lower Saxony
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDuckweeds in Lower Saxony - Credit: Christian Fischer
Duckweeds, or water lentils, are aquatic plants which float on or just beneath the surface of still or slow-moving fresh water bodies.

They are also known as "bayroot".


Page 243. " "Chloroform the scoundrel," he roars madly. "

Chloroform is a colorless, sweetly-scented liquid best known for its historical use as an anesthetic. It has since been abandoned in medicine due to safety concerns. It is produced by reacting chlorine with ethanol. While relatively stable, it is toxic and should be handled with care. Excessive exposure to chloroform can cause long term health damage to several major organs.

The use of chloroform as an anesthetic dates from 1847, but almost immediately concerns were raised. In 1848, a patient died because her heart went into fibrillation, and continued use of the drug only cemented the link between chloroform and cardiac events.

Today, chloroform is used in a variety of industrial processes including the manufacture of chemicals, refrigerants, and solvents.

Page 249. " To Cologne "

Cologne Cathedral
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCologne Cathedral - Credit: ger1axg
Cologne (Köln) is Germany's fourth-largest city (after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich). During the 19th and 20th centuries Cologne absorbed numerous surrounding towns, and by World War I was home to 700,000 inhabitants.

During World War I, Cologne was the target of several minor air raids, but it survived without significant damage. Until 1926 Cologne was occupied by the British Army of the Rhine, under the terms of the armistice and the Treaty of Versailles.


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