An Officer’s Grievance

An anecdote from Arnold Bennett (New Statesman, December, 1918)

The other day I met a British officer who had been wounded nine times, captured by the Germans while in a state of unconsciousness, and in England reported killed. He seemed to be perfectly well and perfectly cheerful. But one matter had aroused his resentment. It was not that as a prisoner he had received only six parcels out of thirty-nine dispatched by his friends. It was not that on returning to life and England he had had to pay for the advertisements of his own decease in the Times and the later advertisements contradicting the same. It was that his solicitor had forwarded to him, among other bills, a bill thus conceived: “To Memorial Service (fully choral), three guineas.” Somehow the words “fully choral” rankled in his mind.

I like this Bennett anecdote from February 1919, too:

I cannot say that I was surprised to read a newspaper report of a private in the Royal Engineers who was fined six days’ pay because, being very tired, he was fool enough to go to sleep in church. It was the clergyman who noted his offence, and who thoughtfully and kindly reported it to the commanding officer. This is the sort of thing that so endears our ancient army system to the intelligent citizen. Nevertheless, the ancient army system is not without merit, and sometimes works both ways, as it did in the present case. For on the next Sunday the company of Royal Engineers combined to boycott the collection plate of the good clergyman and gave 30s. to the sleeping sinner instead.

Post a Comment

%d bloggers like this: