5th September (1918)

No disturbances last night other than another whiff or two of sneezing gas and some stray shelling.  A number of us are now inhabiting a bath house.  I remember you remarking how when a person dies you are at once conscious that there is no one there.  I feel exactly the same when confronted with the dead bodies on the battlefield – it is horrible, but “there’s no on there.”

The weather broke with a mighty thunderstorm, which poured torrents through the shot-riddled roof of our bath-house.  Two of my companions hurriedly disrobed with a view of an extempore shower, but, just as they were stripped, the rain stopped, so they dressed again, expletively.

A Hun airman treated us to another balloon-burning spectacle this afternoon, bagging two, this time, in rapid succession.  The guns were firing during the thunderstorm, but I think old Jupiter Pluvius put up the better showing.

3 thoughts on “5th September (1918)”

  1. Use of the second person in his first para. To whom is he writing?
    Makes one wonder has he also been sending letters home? … Drooling at the prospect!

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  2. Hi Denis, Lincoln’s diary took its form from a series of diary-like letters to his first wife, Mary Lee. Earlier in the diary he comments that he starts each letter with affectionate comments, with the hope the ‘censorious one’ will see it as a matter between a man and his wife. My understanding is that diary-keeping by soldiers was not allowed, or discouraged; hence Lincoln’s work-around with the letters. It does mean Lincoln occasionally shifts to the second person, and I recommend the diary is written as both a personal account, and as something Lincoln expected his wife to read. I also suspect he self-edited a fair bit of the details of what he saw and felt, so as to not horrify Mary. Unfortunately, though, it’s all a bit of an exercise in interpretation. We don’t have the original letters (I think they went to the grave with him), but we do have an edited version of the type-script, which shows him editing for readability, but not content (except the occasional additional fact, such as someone’s name, when I assume he had left them nameless, again to get around the censor). I mention this in the “About” section of this blog.

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    1. Thank you John. Your comments actually sound familiar, so I’m sorry for not remembering the background to the diary and letters. I still love it all – which probably shows!

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