by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent
From the Monday edition of the Daily Capital Journal:
ALLIES AGAIN OPEN SLUICES AND WHOLE REGIMENT DROWNS
Receding of Water Such that Second Flooding Was Made to Stop the Germans
BAYONET FIGHTING FEATURE OF BATTLE
Woods Filled With Dead and River Ypres Filled With Floating Corpses
On page 5, a touching article, “The Pitiful Side of the War,” reports the return of the wounded:
You can’t imagine the joy fathers and mothers feel when their sons come back to them from the war minus, say, an arm or a leg. Human nature is a queer thing and war brings this queerness out in strong relief.
I watched the arrival of a Red Cross train here this afternoon. The cars were filled with young men from the front. Some hobbled out unaided. Others were lifted out on stretchers. Presently one soldier limped onto the platform and stood looking about him. His head was so bandaged that he could not wear his cap. Only one eye showed. One of his arms was in a sling and his hand was bandaged as to indicate the absence of one or more fingers.
Nearby stood a woman who also evidently was looking for someone. Several times she glanced at the bandaged solder and then turned away. Suddenly the soldier saw her. With an inarticulate, smothered sound, he stepped forward and touched her on the shoulder.
The woman uttered a cry. Eagerly she searched with her eyes all there was to be seen of the wounded face. Apparently her mother love rather than what she saw told her that her quest was ended. With another cry, joyously but tenderly she caught the soldier in her arms.
“My son! My son!” she exclaimed, enraptured.
A Red Cross surgeon stepped up.
“Madame,” he said, “your son undoubtedly will recover, but I must tell you that most of his jaw is shot away.”
“Oh, I’m so glad! So glad!” cried the mother, tears streaming down her face.
“Of course you are,” the surgeon said, and turned away. He understood her. I confess I did not. I sought out the surgeon to ask why a mother should be glad to get back her son with half his face gone.
“I see that many times a day,” replied the surgeon. “When a mother sees her son march away to war, she gives him up for dead. Always she lives in dread of the day when she will see his name in the list of the fallen. So, when at last he comes back, it does not matter other how terribly he is wounded or how badly he is disfigured.”
As a matter of fact, the psychology goes a bit further. There is another cause for a mother’s joy when she sees her son return, maimed, broken physically, but alive. She knows that he cannot return to the battle line.