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Wilfred's Last Campaign

September 12th 2018    Category: General

This article will continue to be updated with information on Wilfred's progress, during the last months of his life, spent in France in 1918. For the most recent bulletin, please see the slide at the top of our homepage.

  • 9th September, 1918: Wilfred journeys with fellow soldiers back to the front, after leaving home for the last time at the end of August, and writes home from his billets in Amiens: "There are no window panes, but the valuable hand-lace-curtains remain."
  • 16th September, 1918: Wilfred joins the rest of his battalion at La Neuville, where he is assigned to D Company and subsequently appointed as Bombing Officer.
  • 19th September, 1918: Clemenceau, the French Prime Minister, has his full speech to the Senate reported in The Times, igniting annoyance in Wilfred, who writes: "All are worthy of victory, because they will know how to honour it." This, in turn, inspires Smile, Smile, Smile, which was written around this time:

Head to limp head, the sunk-eyed wounded scanned
Yesterday's Mail; the casualties (typed small)
And (large) Vast Booty from our Latest Haul.
Also, they read of Cheap Homes, not yet planned;
"For," said the paper, "when this war is done
The men's first instinct will be making homes.
Meanwhile their foremost need is aerodromes,
It being certain war has just begun.
Peace would do wrong to our undying dead,—
The sons we offered might regret they died
If we got nothing lasting in their stead.
We must be solidly indemnified.
Though all be worthy Victory which all bought.
We rulers sitting in this ancient spot
Would wrong our very selves if we forgot
The greatest glory will be theirs who fought,
Who kept this nation in integrity."
Nation?—The half-limbed readers did not chafe
But smiled at one another curiously
Like secret men who know their secret safe.
(This is the thing they know and never speak,
That England one by one had fled to France
Not many elsewhere now save under France).
Pictures of these broad smiles appear each week,
And people in whose voice real feeling rings
Say: How they smile! They're happy now, poor things.

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