Interviewed the Wounded and Photographed the Dead

In the anonymous Billet Notes in Nash’s Magazine, 1916, two lines of verse are quoted. The context is a discussion of journalistic exaggeration and fakery:

I am rather fed up with this Angels of Mons business, which the cheap papers are exploiting. It’s too much like the bathos they indulged in during the early stages of the war, when, unable to fill their columns with anything authentic, they drew on imaginary horrors and exaggerated every disaster; when they:

Interviewed the wounded, and photographed the dead,
And coined the tears of women for coppers in the street.

Those lines sound familiar, and I’ve  feeling I ought to know them, but I don’t. Googling the key words only comes up with a reference to the book version of Billet Notes (re-titled From Dugout and Billet.) Any ideas about the author?

These anonymous Billet Notes criticise fakery, but are themselves pretty obviously not the  “Casual pencillings from a fighting man to his mother” that they pretend to be. On the other hand, there is enough front-line detail to suggest that they are written by someone who has been there, or maybe has just studied the subject intently.

One Comment

  1. Posted March 2, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I still don’t know who wrote the lines of verse, but I have by chance discovered that the ‘Billet Notes’ were the work of a rather remarkable woman author of popular fiction (who had certainly never been near a battlefield). Her original name was Marguerite Jervis, I think, but she also wrote under the names of Marguerite Barclay, Countess Barcynska and Oliver Sandys. Her autobiography (‘Frank and Full’ by Oliver Sandys) tells the story.


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