The soldier who survives the war may suffer over and over again, in pain physical or mental. A friend told us of her father, a Great War amputee, enduring years of agony from his phantom wound.
His fellow Welshman, the artist and poet David Jones, would be taken back to the trenches by a sudden noise, a slammed door, a dropped walking stick, the rumble of thunder. ‘The memory of it is like a disease.’¹
Or the phantom pain beneath the scars of a ravaged soul.
Jones wrote in In Parenthesis about his Sergeant Major’s rifle instruction:
Marry it man! Marry it!
Cherish her, she’s your very own.
Coax it man coax it–it’s delicately and ingeniously made
–it’s an instrument of precision–it costs us tax-payers,
money–I want you men to remember that.
Fondle it like a granny–talk to it–consider it as you would