Images of WWI

I’m working on my third novel, Time & Regret, the story of Martin Devlin and his granddaughter, Grace, who tries to solve a mystery he left for her embedded in his diaries. A mystery that springs from WWI. In preparation, I went through several books set in those times as well as non-fiction accounts and prepared a lengthy list of images to prompt creativity. Not long ago, I reviewed the list and was struck, once again, by the brutal, senselessness of it all.

Books on WWIListen to a few of them:

How could he tell the soldier’s parents that there was nothing left of their son but a booted foot? (The Serpents Tooth)

Watch for craters. Some of them are pretty deep. God knows what’s floating in them. Not much gas left, but it’s heavy, sticks to the low bits. (We Shall Not Sleep)

The endless boredom, the sudden blood-red agony, the nights in no man’s land with men caught on the wires and torn apart by bullets, left hanging there, bleeding to death. (We Shall Not Sleep)

It’s the smaller shells, the whiz-bangs, that are most damaging, the ones that sound like a mosquito whining in the distance. (Three Day Road)

Just to survive took all a man could dredge up from his soul; hope and sanity were lights on a hill the other side of an abyss. (At Some Disputed Barricade)

A direct hits obliterates all physical evidence that a man had existed; a lesser one would rip pieces from him. (Birdsong)

He grew used to the sight and smell of torn, human flesh. (Birdsong)

Only moments count in this war. Each minute is a whole new lifetime out there. (The First Casualty)

The real purpose was to kill so many of the enemy that they could no longer function. (Vimy)

As always when I reflect on WWI, I wonder at those who survived and managed, somehow, to go on with life.

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available in paperback from Amazon and in e-book formats from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Mary can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

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4 Responses

  1. Like you, Mary, I’m left wondering how people saw those things and went on with any sort of normal life. In addition, as a writer, I look at each of those short sentences and see how powerful it is. I don’t need a lot more to understand and feel the scene. Less is more.

  2. I am planning to visit Neuve-Chapelle this weekend to see the site where my great-grandfather fought. I will probably think about your list whilst I am there – a good selection, very poignant and thanks for sharing!

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