Wednesday, 22 August 2012

It's a tough life at the end of the queue

Dentistry on the frontline, 1917
My previous post about teeth and toothache appears to have stirred a few memories. My mother has been in touch to tell me that it brought to mind one of the rare stories her father used to tell about his time on the Western Front.
As a private with the Gloucestershire Regiment he often had grumbling teeth, as did thousands of others, but for him there was no quick remedy. When he took himself off to the Army dentist, his wait was always one of the longest. Why? Because his name was Wood and that not only came at the end of the alphabet ... it also meant the end of the queue!

My grandfather hardly ever mentioned the war, but one other memory that slipped out from time to time concerned moonshine. No, not that moonshine, but the sort that reflected on tin plates and mugs on a clear night in the trenches. He recalled that soldiers would keep their utensils well covered while eating becaue they were terrified that any reflection could make them a target for snipers. For the same reason he also held his lit cigarette inwards towards the palm of his hand - a habit that lasted his whole life.

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