Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 153, August 15, 1917 online

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VOL. 153.

AUGUST 15, 1917.


"In the heroic days of 1914," says Count REVENTLOW, "God gave us our
daily bread and our daily victory." We feel sure that, as regards the
provision of victories, some recognition ought to be made of the able
assistance of the WOLFF Bureau.


We read with some surprise that, in the motor collision in which he
participated recently, Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL'S car _was run into_ by
another coming in the opposite direction. This is not the Antwerp spirit
that the Munitions Department is waiting for.


A movement is on foot for the presentation of a suitable testimonial to
the people of Dundee for returning Mr. CHURCHILL to Parliament, after
being distinctly requested not to do so by a certain morning paper.


"What shall we do with the Allotment Harvest?" asks _The Evening News_.
It seems only too probable that, unless a national effort is made to
preserve them, some of the world's noblest vegetables will have to be


"Just as a soldier gives his valour or a captain of industry his
talent," said Lord CURZON, speaking on the sale of titles, "so a wealthy
man gives his wealth, which is very often his only asset, for the
benefit of his country." Nothing like a delicate compliment or two to
encourage him in the good work.


A lively correspondence has been filling the columns of a contemporary
under the heading, "The Facts about Bacon." The discussion seems to have
turned upon the famous line, "There's something rotten from the state of


Sixpenny paper notes are now being issued in various parts of Germany.
If you can't find anything to buy with them you can use them to patch
the new paper trousers.


Judging by his recent speech, Herr VON BETHMANN-HOLLWEG has lost heart
and found a liver.


At a recent inquest it was stated that a doctor had prepared a death
certificate while deceased was still alive. The subsequent correct
behaviour of the patient is regarded as a distinct feather in the
medical profession's cap.


A nephew of Field-Marshal VON HINDENBUBG has just joined the United
States Navy, but the rumour that upon hearing this HINDENBURG tried to
look severe is of course an impossible story.


The sum of sixty pounds has been taken from the Ransom Lane Post Office,
Hull, and burglars are reminded that withdrawals of money from the Post
Office cannot in future be allowed unless application is first made on
the prescribed form.


Baron SONNINO, the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, was accorded a
truly British welcome on his arrival in this country. It rained all day.


It appears from a weekly paper that the KAISER is fond of nice quiet
amusement. If this is so we cannot understand his refusal to have a
Reichstag run on lines similar to the British Parliament.


Sir EDWARD CARSON'S physical recreations, says _The Daily Mail_, are
officially stated to be riding, golf and cycling. Unofficially, we
believe, he has occasionally done some drilling.


At a recent pacifist meeting in Bristol Councillor THOMPSON declared
that he was with Mr. LLOYD GEORGE in the South African War, but was
against him in the present campaign. The authorities are doing their
best to keep the news from the PREMIER.


A man at Tottenham has been fined five pounds for feeding a horse with
bread. We understand that action was taken on the initiative of the


The German Government is doing everything possible to curry favour with
its people. It has now commandeered all stocks of soap.


A Bermondsey house of amusement has organised a competition, in which
the competitors have to eat a pudding with their hands tied. This of
course is a great improvement on the modern and more difficult game of
trying to eat a lump of sugar in a restaurant with full use of the
hands, and even legs.


An official notice in the British Museum Library states that readers
will incur little risk during air raids, "except from a bomb that bursts
in the room." It is the ability to think out things like this which
raises the official mind so high above the ordinary.


The German Government, says the _Gazette de Lausanne_, is establishing a
regular business base in Berne. We have no illusions as to the base
business that will be conducted from it.


"When a German travels round the world," said Dr. MICHAELIS in a lecture
delivered twenty-five years ago, "he cannot help being terribly envious
of England." Funnily enough he is as envious as ever, even though the
opportunities for travel are no longer available.


When the Folkestone raid syren goes off, a man told the Dover Council,
it blows your hat off. On the other hand if it doesn't go off you may
not have anywhere to wear a hat, so what are you to do?


Willesden allotment-holders are complaining of a shortage of male blooms
on their vegetable-marrow plants. This is the first intimation we have
had of the calling-up of this class.

* * * * *


* * * * *


Mr. Punch, following the example of his daily contemporaries, despatched
a representative to some of the great London termini to note the August
exodus from town. The following thrilling report is to hand: -

At Waterton and Paddingloo great crowds continued to board the limited
number of West-bound and South-west-bound trains. On being asked why
they were leaving town, those of the travellers who answered at all said
it was the regular time for their annual holiday and they wanted a
change. They were mostly a jolly hearty lot, happily confident that at
some time in the course of the next forty-eight hours they would be
deposited in some part of the West or South-west of England. Those
fortunate persons who had secured seats were sitting down, those who
were unable to get seats were standing, and, in spite of the congested
state of the carriages and corridors, almost all were smiling, the
exceptions being those highly-strung and excitable passengers who had
come to blows over corner seats and windows up or down. Many of the
travellers carried baskets of food. Your representative, anxious to
report on the quality and quantity of the provisions carried, ventured
to peep into one of the baskets, and was in consequence involved in a
rather unpleasant affair, being actually accused of having abstracted a

The engine-driver, questioned as to whether he liked having passengers
on the engine and whether he considered it safe for them, was understood
to say that so long as they didn't get in his way it didn't matter to
him, and as to its being safe for them, he jolly well didn't care
whether it was safe for them or not. The guard, detained by the sleeve
by your representative, who inquired how he felt about being almost
crowded out of his brake by passengers, drew away his sleeve with some
violence and his answer was quite unworthy to be reported. An elderly
but strongly-built porter, with the luggage of fourteen families on his
truck, and the fourteen families surrounding him and all talking at
once, was approached by your representative for a little quiet chat, but
he became so threatening that it was thought advisable to leave him

At Ticvoria Station your representative found a seething mob intent on
getting to those ever popular and already much overcrowded South-coast
resorts, Paradeville, Shingleton-on-Sea, Promenade Bay, etc. The
eleven-o'clock "Paradeville fast," due to start in half-an-hour, was at
No. 20 platform. All sitting and standing room had been occupied for
some hours, and the passengers were enjoying the sport of seeing the
later arrivals running the whole length of the train and back again in
the mad hope of finding places. Your representative managed to get a
word with some of these later arrivals, and asked them how they liked
running up and down, and whether they were much disappointed at not
finding room; but the answers were mostly unsatisfactory and in some
cases uncivil. The booking-clerk, questioned as to the phraseology
employed by August holiday folk in asking for their tickets, whether it
is "Third return, please," or "Third return," or "Third return and look
sharp," showed by his answer that the expression "please" is falling
into desuetude on these occasions, his exact words being "There's
precious little 'please' knocking about, and anyone who has the cheek to
tell me to 'look sharp' is jolly well kept waiting till the last!" Your
representative, wishing to report at first-hand the experience of those
who were travelling thirty in a compartment meant to accommodate ten in
the "Paradeville fast," tried to get in and make a thirty-first,
explaining that it was only for a minute and was with the object of
getting local colour, but was forcibly expelled, and, falling on the
platform and sustaining some slight contusions, decided to cease
reporting on August scenes at the great termini for that day.

* * * * *



When the Heatherdale Hussars received a two-hours' notice to "trek"
they, of course, dumped their mascot, Hyldebrand, a six-months-old wild
boar, at the Town Major's. They would have done the same with a baby or
a full-grown hippopotamus. The harassed T.M. discovered Hyldebrand in
the next stable to his slightly hysterical horse the morning after the
H.H. had evacuated, and informed me (his village Sanitary Inspector)
that "as I was fond of animals" (he had seen me distributing fly-traps
and painting horse-trough notice-boards) I was henceforth in sole
command of Hyldebrand until such time as his owners should reclaim him.
A grant of five sous _per diem_ had been left for the piglette's

I took charge of Hyldebrand, provided an old dog-kennel for his shelter,
an older dog-collar for his adornment and six yards of "flex" for his
restraint. I further appointed the runner - a youth from Huddersfield,
nicknamed "Isinglass," in playful sarcastic comment on his speed - second
in command. He was to feed, groom and exercise Hyldebrand. I would
inspect Hyldebrand twice a week.

Hyldebrand rose fast in village popularity. One forgot that his parents
had been shot for cattle maiming, body snatching, breaking into
granaries and defying the gendarmerie on the public roads. But Hyldy was
all docility. He ate his way through the grant, the office stationery,
and the central tin dump with the most disarming _naïvété_. He was the
spoilt darling of every mess. The reflected glory which Isinglass and
myself enjoyed was positively embarrassing.

But as the summer advanced so did Hyldebrand. He became (to quote his
keeper) a "battle pig," with the head of a pantomime dragon,
fore-quarters of a bison, the hind-legs of a deer and a back like an
heraldic scrubbing-brush. In March I had inspected him as he sat upon my
knee. In June I shook hands with him as he strained at his tether. In
mid-September we nodded to each other from opposite sides of a barbed
wire fence. Yet Isinglass retained the most complete mastery of his
ferocious-looking protégé, and beneath his skilful massage Hyldebrand
would throw himself upon the ground and guggle in a porcine ecstacy.

One sunny afternoon, when there had come upon the little village street
the inevitable hush which preceded Hyldebrand's hour for exercise, I
espied the village cripple making for his home with the celerity of an A
1 man. He glared reproachfully at me, and, with an exclamation of
"_Sacré sanglier!_" vanished in the open doorway of the local
boulangerie, that being nearer than his cottage. Then came Hyldebrand,
froth on his snout and murder in his little eyes, and after him
Isinglass more than living up to his equine namesake. I joined him, and,
following Hyldy in a cloud of dust, the runner informed me between gasps
that it was "along of burning his snout-raking for a bully-beef tin in
the insinuator."

A band outside B Mess was nearing the climax of GRIEG'S "Peer Gynt"
suite. Hyldebrand just failed to perpetrate the time-worn gag of jumping
through the big drum, but he contrived to make that final crashing chord
sound like the last sneeze of a giant dying of hay-fever. The rest the
crowd saw through a film of dust. Hyldebrand headed for the turning by
the school, reached it as the gates opened to release young France, and
comedy would have turned to tragedy but for the point duty M.P. and his

There was a note and a parcel for me a day or so after. The note, which
was addressed to and had been opened by the T.M., stated that Hyldebrand
was being sent for by the Heatherdale Hussars on the morrow. Outside the
parcel was scrawled, above the initials of the G.H.Q. officers' cook, a
friend of mine, "It's top hole - try it with a drop of sauce." Inside was
a cold pork chop!

* * * * *

[Illustration: THE NEW LOAF.


* * * * *


It so happened in a quiet part of the line that men were scarce and work
abundant, so it was decided to use mules to carry the rations further
than usual. All went well until one night when friend Fritz changed his
habits and put some assorted fireworks rather near the mules.

Now the transport, being human and moreover unaccustomed to fireworks,
disliked this entertainment. Therefore they sought what shelter they
could. In a few minutes the Hun repented, but no mules and no rations
could the transport see. Moreover it began to rain. So back they went
and spoke at great length of the hundreds of seventeen-inch which had
blown up all the mules.

The morning began to come and a machine-gun subaltern, looking at a
black East in search of daylight, so that he might say, "It is now
light; I may go to bed," was somewhat startled. "For," he said, "I have
received shocks as the result of too much whisky of old, but from a
split tea and chloride of lime - no! It must be the pork and beans."
However, he collected eight puzzled but peaceful mules and handed them
to a still more bewildered adjutant, who knew not if they were "trench
stores" or "articles to be returned to salvage."

In the meanwhile the Transport Officer was making inquiries, and he
recovered the eight mules. "All," he said, "are back, except Ermyntrude.
I grieve for Ermyntrude, but still more for my driver's fate."

Where Ermyntrude spent the day no one knows. All that is known is of her
conduct the next night. About eleven o'clock she stepped on a shelter,
and, being a heavy mule, came into the trench abruptly. This worried but
did not hurt her, and she proceeded down the trench at a steady trot,
bumping into the traverses. She met a ration party, and for the first
time in their lives they took refuge over the top, for Ermyntrude was

Ermyntrude reached the end of the trench and somehow got out, heading,
by chance, for Germany. That was her undoing. In a minute or so three
machine-guns began firing, bombs and rifle shots were heard, and Verey
lights innumerable flared. We never saw Ermyntrude again. But we heard
of her - or rather we read of her - for the German official report wrote
her epitaph, thus: "Near the village of - - hostile raiding detachments
were repulsed by our machine-gun fire."

* * * * *

[Illustration: _Monica (taken in to see her mother and her new sister,
who is fretful - to nurse)_. "TAKE HER AWAY AND BRING ONE THAT DOESN'T

* * * * *



* * * * *

"We welcome back to a position he once filled so well, the Rev. - - ,
who is taking on the pork of the parish for the duration of the
war." - _Bath and Wilts Chronicle_.

We trust it will agree with him.

* * * * *

"WANTED, a Very Plain Girl, very good references and photo asked, to
care for three children and do housework." - _Morning Paper_.

You can almost see the green-eyed monster lurking in the background.

* * * * *

_Soulful Soldier (carried away by red sunset)._ "BY JOVE! LOOK AT THAT!


* * * * *



MY DEAR CHARLES, - Since I last wrote to you I have enjoyed
seeing again an officer with whom I had many curious dealings in
the past, and who, if half the facts he divulges about himself
were true, would certainly be the wickedest Colonel in the
B.E.F., notwithstanding that he fought busily in the early
stages and had the best part of himself knocked out in so doing.
He has performed many strange duties since, and the steps he
took to qualify for one of them will, I think, illustrate for
you his wickedness.

It has been found, on experience, that modesty is out of place
when you are being called upon to state your qualifications for
a post. The knowing, upon being asked if they possess certain
attributes, reply in an immediate affirmative and add others,
just to be on the safe side. It is felt that what is really
required in this War is thrust and ingenuity, things which
adequately make up for the absence of any specialist knowledge.
Accordingly my friend found himself described as possessing,
among other things, "French, fluent." It was not until he was
informed that the Official Interpreter would like to hear a
little of this that he looked more closely into the matter and
discovered that he knew no French at all. Undismayed, he spent
the two days' interval before the _vivâ-voce_ examination in
learning some. You might suppose that two days is a short time
in which to become so familiar with a strange language that you
may be able to understand and answer any question which may be
put to you in it. Sly friend, however, did not let this worry
him. He learnt by heart a long and detailed narrative, embracing
all the most impressive idioms and all the most popular slang,
the subject of which was an accident which had occurred to him
in the earlier days of the campaign, a long and a vivid story,
which, once started, would last indefinitely and could not be
interrupted meanwhile.

Armed with no other knowledge of the French language than this,
my friend duly presented himself before the Official
Interpreter, greeted him with a genial salute and waited
throughout his opening speech, which was in French and contained
many inquiries.

My friend made no endeavour to follow these simple questions. He
knew he couldn't succeed and had no intention of giving himself
away by an attempt. Advancing towards the Interpreter's table
and putting his right hand to his ear, "Pardon, monsieur," he
said, "mais je suis un peu sourd, depuis mon accident."

"Quel accident?" said the Interpreter; after which my friend did
not stop talking until he was passed out with a "French,

We met quite recently and talked over things in general, telling
each other, in confidence and on the best authority, all those
exciting details of the progress of the War which men go on
saying and believing until they are officially contradicted.
Getting down to realities, he told me that he has now the
greatest difficulty in believing in the War at all, though he is
within ear-shot of it all the time. His difficulty is due to the
last thing he saw before he left his office: three men standing
at his gate, in that attitude of contented and contemplative
leisure which one associates with Saturday afternoons and
village pumps, looking at nothing in particular and spitting
thoughtfully as occasion required. One of them was a British
soldier, one a French soldier and one a German soldier. The
whole picture suggested anything but war; if there was a war on,
which nation was fighting against which? My friend, however, is
somewhat oddly situated in this respect, since he commands for
the moment a detachment of German prisoners in our back area.
Some of them, he tells me, are extraordinarily smart. One
Prussian N.C.O. in particular was remarkable. Dressed in his
impressive overcoat, hatted for all the world like our Staff and
carrying under his arm his dapper cane, this N.C.O. went round
from group to group of working prisoners, accompanying the
English sergeant in charge of the party and interpreting the
latter's orders to the men. So striking was his get-up that all
paused to look at him.

Thinking it might please you, my friend showed me an official
memo., which he had just received from one of his officers in
command of an outlying detachment, and of course of the odds and
ends of British personnel adhering thereto: cooks, guards, etc.
The memo. ran as follows, and it repays careful study and
thinking out; I give you the whole of it: -

"_To the Commanding Officer, Orderly Room, Hqrs._"

The undermentioned is in my opinion entirely unfitted
for the duty to which he has been detailed with this
detachment. He shows no signs of either intelligence or
industry, and I propose, with your approval, to take the
necessary steps to get rid of him forthwith.


_Capt. i.c. 'B' Detachment._

My friend was much concerned to hit upon exactly the right form
of reply. Eventually we agreed: -

"_To Capt. A. B. Smith, i.c. 'B' Detachment._



_Lt.-Col., O.C., etc., etc._"

Finally, let me tell you a disgraceful tale of my same friend,
which does not refer to his present command, and is, I hope,
untrue of him in any command.

The crowd for which he was then responsible was suddenly
threatened with inspection by the General who is charged with
the welfare of such people, and who very properly desired to
satisfy himself that they were both well disciplined and well
tended. So that success might be assured my friend had a
rehearsal parade. All inspections and manoeuvres being
completed, my friend stood the crowd at ease and thus addressed
them: -

"All ranks will take the utmost care to turn themselves
out smartly for the inspection and to make the
inspection a success. As the General passes along the
lines inspecting you, you will stand rigidly to
attention, eyes front. You will be asked if you have any
complaints to make, and each of you will have an
opportunity of making a complaint in the correct manner.

"In making his complaint the man should advance two
paces forward, salute smartly, stand to attention and
make his complaint.

"And, by Heavens, if anybody does...!"

Yours ever,


* * * * *


Ernest and I were seated by the river. It was very pleasant there, and
it seemed a small thing to us that we were both still disabled.

"Did you ever say to yourself, when you were out there, that if ever you
got out of it alive you'd never grumble at anything again?'" said

My reply was in the affirmative.

We were silent for a while, remorse weighing heavily upon us.

"The worst case," said Ernest at length, "was when I got my commission
and came home for my kit."

I composed myself to listen, piously determined not to grumble however
tedious I might find his recital.

"We'd been near a place called Ypres," he began.

"I seem to have heard the name," I murmured.

"I hadn't been sleeping really well for a week - we'd been in the
trenches that time - and before that I had lain somewhat uneasily upon a

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Online LibraryVariousPunch, or the London Charivari, Volume 153, August 15, 1917 → online text (page 1 of 4)