Page 26. " a strong, practical sense of espirit de corps "

Espirit de corps is a French term that translates as "group spirit." It describes the feeling of pride and honor that a group of people share and the identity they derive from it. It is particularly associated with the camaraderie and mutual trust of soldiers who have fought side by side. 

Page 27. " A hospital train has arrived "

World War I hospital trains were equipped for the provision of healthcare while injured soldiers were being transported.  They ranged from very basic nursing and first-aid facilities to fully-equipped mobile medical centres that sometimes included operating theatres and nursing wards.



Page 29. " This atmosphere of carbolic and gangrene clogs the lungs "

Gangrene occurs when significant tissue dies as a result of injury or infection.  Such cell death, or necrosis, usually results from a reduction of blood supply to the tissue.

During World War I, gas gangrene, caused by bacterial infection, complicated 6% of open fractures and 1% of open wounds.

Maggot Therapy was used to cure gangrene. Live, disinfected maggots (fly larvae) were inserted into the wound to feed on and clean out the necrotic tissue.

Page 30. " Perhaps you will go to the convalescent home at Klosterberg "

Klosterberg is a German city located east of Nuremberg and north of Munich.


Google Map


Page 32. " We are by Kemmerich's bed. He is dead. "

The WWI experience of death has been immortalized in poetry and prose. Among the most famous poems are:

the sonnets of Rupert Brooke

Wilfred Owen's famous WWI poem, Dulce et Decorum Est


Page 33. " offers me a fine piece of saveloy "

Creative Commons AttributionSaveloy - Credit: Alan Myers
Saveloy is a seasoned dry smoked sausage. The word comes from the French cervelas, which comes from the Italian cervellata (literally, pigs brains).

Saveloy is commonly sold in English fish and chips shops.

Page 35. " who are already being issued with gas masks "
German WWI Gas Mask
Public DomainGerman WWI Gas Mask - Credit: Daderot

Gas was first used by the French in August 1914, but from January 1915 the Germans began deploying gas on both fronts.  Different chemicals were used: tear gas, poison gas and suffocating gas.  The most common poisons were mustard gas, chlorine and phosgene.

US WWI Gask Mask
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeUS WWI Gask Mask - Credit: Historicair

Over time, both the Axis powers and the Allies designed various types of gas masks. The first masks issued were just cotton cloths that one held over the nose and mouth. Then came fabric masks made of chemical absorbing cloth that fitted over the whole head. The most advanced mask of WWI, the canister gas mask, consisted of a mask attached to a canister that held chemical absorbent materials such as sodium hyposulphate and glycerine. 

Even with advances in gas mask technology, poison gas easily penetrated gas masks and killed soldiers.  Many of those who survived suffered weakened lungs and died soon after the war of respiratory problems.

WWI Gas Warfare


Page 36. " That's what the Prussians say "

Prussia (in blue) during the German Empire
Creative Commons AttributionPrussia (in blue) during the German Empire - Credit: user 52:pickup, wikipedia
Prussia was the most powerful state in Germany, with Berlin as its capital.

Germany was formed in the nineteenth century largely through the military and diplomatic efforts of Prussia, which subdued and swallowed many of the other sovereign German states.

Seen as warlike and partly responsible for bringing about the two world wars, Prussia was abolished in 1947.  Much of its former territory is now in Poland.

Page 38. " Disappointed we lie down and and consider whether we couldn't have a go at the iron rations "

The iron ration, introduced in 1907, consisted of an emergency food tin for use by military forces when normal food sources were disrupted. 

The German iron ration contained:

250g (8.8 oz) biscuit; 200g (7 oz.) preserved meat or 170g (6 oz.) bacon; 150g (5.3 oz.) preserved vegetables; 25g (9/10 oz.) coffee; 25g (9/10 oz.) salt.

Page 38. " Bog-myrtle "

Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBog-Myrtle - Credit: Sten Porse
The bog myrtle is a deciduous shrub native to Western Europe and North America.  It has a mildly sweet taste and appealing aroma; it is used in cooking and in alcohol. 

Page 40. " his breeches rolled up and his feet bare "
German WW1 breeches
Public Domain WW1 breeches - Credit: National Library of Scotland

Breeches were the standard lower body garment for men before the advent of trousers. They usually stopped just below the knee.

Breeches continued to be worn as a component of many military uniforms, particularly in association with riding boots.


Page 42. " What are the parts of a 98 rifle? "

Mauser M98
Public DomainMauser M98 - Credit: Vaarok

The Mauser 1898 Rifle was the standard issue weapon of the German Army in WWI. It was technologically superior to the rifles of the French and British armies, with a faster loading mechanism.


Page 49. " Revenge is black-pudding "

Black pudding, blood pudding or blood sausage is a type of sausage made by cooking blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled. The dish is found in various cultures from Asia to Europe. Pig, cow, sheep, duck or goat blood is used.

In Europe, typical fillers include meat, fat, suet, bread, sweet potato, onion, chestnuts, barley and oatmeal, while in Spain and Asia, rice is used.


Black Pudding
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBlack Pudding - Credit: Rainer Zenz