Heaven is dry stockings

Commemorating the end of the Great War, 100 years ago this weekend.

From Justice Hall

The War journal of Lt. Gabriel Hughenfort

28 January

Never have I imagined cold such as this. Even the frost-rimed dugout the officers share seems an oasis of warmth. Heaven is dry stockings, even if they are caked with dirt. Paradise would be a bed with clean sheets—but that is more than my mind can grasp. The earth no longer holds such things; all the world is half-frozen slime and ear-shattering noise.

A shell hit the neighbouring section of trench today; I went to help a wounded soldier to his feet only to discover he had no legs below the thigh. I shall never lose the sensation of lifting up a legless man. Thank God he was already dead.

And my first thought after the original shock was, I wonder if his feet are dry now. And then I started to laugh. I managed to reach the privacy of the dugout before my nerves gave way and the laughter turned to tears. The first time in days my nerves have gone like that, and not yet in front of the men. The mind toughens slowly.

4 February

Jerry’s shelling kept us pinned in our mud-holes four days after we were supposed to go back.

There was finally a lull, and we could shift the wounded and trade places with the poor bas souls coming up to take our places. Baths and louse- free shirts and beds that don’t jump and twitch under us, hot food and a chance for the ears to cease their endless ringing. But we’ve pulled a short one this time for some reason—we’re headed back into it in three more days. Just in time for the lice to find us again.

Why don’t lice get trench foot, or freeze to death? God’s mysteries.


  1. janet on November 10, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    The somewhat forgotten war, compared with so many others, but a horrific one. Thanks for this.


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