Page 279. " Someone shot him point-blank in the stomach with a Verey light "

A Verey (or Very) light is a single-shot flare gun. It is named after its inventor, American naval officer Edward Wilson Very. It was not intended to be used as a weapon, but could be deadly at close range.   


British Verey style flare gun from WWI.
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBritish Verey style flare gun from WWI. - Credit: Andy Dingley
Page 282. " these tanks are machines, their caterpillars run on as endless as the war, they are annihilation "

Armoured trains appeared in the mid-19th century and various armoured steam- and gasoline-engined vehicles were also proposed. The first armoured car was produced in Austria in 1904. However, all such vehicles were restricted to rails or reasonably passable terrain. It was the development of a practical caterpillar track that enabled independent, all-terrain mobility around the trenches and shell-battered landscapes of WWI.

The caterpillar track originated out of attempts to improve the mobility of wheeled vehicles by spreading their weight and increasing their adhesive friction. Experiments can be traced back as far as the 17th century; by the late nineteenth century they existed in various recognizable and practical forms in several countries.

It is frequently claimed that Richard Lovell Edgeworth created a caterpillar track. He patented a "machine, that should carry and lay down its own road" in 1770, but his own account in his autobiography is of a horse-drawn wooden carriage on eight retractable legs, capable of lifting itself over high walls. The description bears no similarity to a caterpillar track.

The British were the first to develop a military tank, a response in 1915 to the ongoing stalemate on the Western Front. The French also developed tanks in 1917, but the Germans were slow to respond. They focused on developing anti-tank weapons, with mixed results. While the tanks were slow, with a top speed of about 4 mph, and many had design flaws that caused them to become stuck in the trenches, a few models, such as the French FT and the British Mark series, worked very well and allowed their operators to penetrate the German trenches.

Page 293. " Everyone talks of peace and armistice "


An armistice is an official ceasefire between warring countries.

The armistice for World War I occurred on 11 November 1918 in Compiegne, France. It was not an official surrender for Germany, but rather a response to a list of policies proposed by President Woodrow Wilson. The "Fourteen Points" as they were called, included Germany's withdrawal to its own borders, the exchange of POWs, and the disposition of Germany's navy. 



Page 296. " He fell in October 1918 "
German WW1 Cemetery in Belgium
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeGerman WW1 Cemetery in Belgium - Credit: Alex Birkett

Hostilities ended with the armistice on November 11, 1918. Bulgaria had surrendered in October, and Allied troops - with more than 10,000 American soldiers arriving in Europe every day - were closing in on Germany.  Having suffered more than 6 million casualties, Germany had depleted its troops and resources, and talk of surrender was everywhere. When Paul died, it was already much too late for Germany to have any chance of winning the war.


The End
Creative Commons AttributionThe End - Credit: Rudolf Getel