The Great War

Happy days

Capt. Sidney Rogerson of the West Yorks thought the Great War ‘the happiest period’ of his life, despite terror and discomfort, because ‘though it may have let loose the worst it also brought out the finest qualities in men.’ On the other hand he was far from blind to the horrors of war, particularly of mud: ‘Terrible in its clinging consistency, it was the… supreme enemy, paralysing and mocking English and German alike. Distances were measured not in yards but in mud.’ One November we trudged through a field near Martinpuich on the Somme and could not move after a few yards, and this without 60 lbs on our backs. It was illuminating. As illuminating as seeing for oneself the perceptible ridge at Waterloo, behind which Wellington concealed his troops. There is no substitute for standing on ground a soldier stood on, and seeing the limit of his horizon.