Soldiers resting in Trench, 1915
Sourced: Australian War Memorial (www.awm.gov.au)
I had two grandfathers who served on the Western Front. To try and picture what they experienced, I imagine some trenches where they lived on and off for weeks, months and years. They are surrounded by rats, lice, rotting corpses and partly covered sewage. They and the people around them may not have bathed for weeks. They have poor shelter and endure freezing winters and summers filled with carrion flies. They have seen their friends die. Several times an hour a shell containing high explosive, shrapnel or sometimes poison gas, which could kill or maim them or gradually send them mad, is fired randomly in their general direction. Sometimes they have to kill other people. Then one day in 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it all stopped and they could go home. Partly because of what they did, I have never had to experience such things. That is one of the reasons why I remember them.