Siegfried Sassoon’s The Redeemer

Grace Schumacher

Darkness: the rain sluiced down; the mire was deep;
It was past twelve on a mid-winter night,
When peaceful folk in beds lay snug asleep;
There, with much work to do before the light,
We lugged our clay-sucked boots as best we might
Along the trench; sometimes a bullet sang,
And droning shells burst with a hollow bang;
We were soaked, chilled and wretched, every one;
Darkness; the distant wink of a huge gun.

I turned in the black ditch, loathing the storm;
A rocket fizzed and burned with blanching flare,
And lit the face of what had been a form
Floundering in the mirk. He stood before me there,
I say that he was Christ; stiff in the glare,
And leaning forward from his burdening task,
Both arms supporting it; His eyes on mine
Stared from the woeful head that seemed a mask
Of mortal pain in Hell’s unholy shine.

No thorny crown, only a woollen cap
He wore—an English soldier, white and strong,
Who loved his time like any simple chap,
Good days of work and sport and homely song;
Now he has learned that nights are very long,
And dawn a watching of the windowed sky.
But to the end, unjudging, he’ll endure
Horror and pain, not uncontent to die
That Lancaster on Lune may stand secure.

He faced me, reeling in his weariness,
Shouldering his load of planks, so hard to bear.
I say that he was Christ, who wrought to bless
All groping things with freedom bright as air,
And with His mercy washed and made them fair.
Then the flame sank, and all grew black as pitch,
While we began to struggle along the ditch;
And someone flung his burden in the muck,
Mumbling: ‘O Christ Almighty, now I’m stuck!’

Grace Schumacher’s Report on @thisdayinwwi and @ww1photos_info


Brief Summary

Out of the seven potential Instagram pages presented as options for this assignment, this particular profile appealed to me. It commits to posting a photograph or video of a World War One event that corresponds to the date of the post. Hence, the profile name is “This day in World War One.” For example, a post uploaded on February 1, 2022 will display an image/event/video of an event that took place on February 1st, 1914-1918. The account has 44.3k subscribers and is a public page, meaning that there is no request process in order to view the creator’s content. The demographic trend is toward a diverse population, with followers of the page ranging from private individuals of all ages and backgrounds to other fellow “history accounts.” As a follower of this page, I felt a connection to the content as it transcends time to educate and pique the interest of followers and avid historians.


February 2, 1918: Gas school near Albert, FR of Serbian Army officials examining the special outfit of a liquid fire projector.

The media posted on this page is not biased against or for one particular “side” of the war. The content ranges from French “gas schools” to images of British soldiers at the front as well as propaganda posters from multiple countries. The quality of the photographs and videos, despite them being digitized and over 100 years old, is clear and the images are recognizable.

This impartial approach to exhibiting the every-day lives of both soldiers, civilians, as well as government officials is effective in presenting history accurately and informatively while also doing so in an “story-telling manner.” The admin of the page is consistent in giving credit to the creators, photographers, artists, and publishers of the content and has demonstrated themselves to be a reliable source of information. A majority of the content comes from collections of the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in Manchester, UK.

January 29, 1917: Royal Irish Regiment training with rifle grenades in Salonika, Greece.

Over the course of following this account, I found that much of the content provides visuals that assist in my personal understanding of some of the concepts, events, and technologies taught about in class. For example, the images attached above relate to events that occur within the texts we discuss during class.

In Smithy’s faux-dialogue with Mother and Mrs. Evans-Mawnington (Not So Quiet), she mentions her mother’s excitement at the use of “liquid fire.” Smithy goes into detail, describing the condition of a boy who was unlucky enough to have been on the receiving end of it (Smith 95). The first photograph of the soldier wearing the protective equipment is haunting, as we can almost imagine ourselves facing a cloaked enemy spewing fire in our direction.

The Redeemer, a poem by Siegfried Sassoon, paints a picture of the miserable conditions of the trenches at the front. The second and third picture above, reminded me of the threat mud posed at the front. It was source of sickness and infection, a hindrance to mobilizing soldiers, and often the cause of their death. The picture of a British soldier being removed from the mud by his comrades, credited to Christopher Clark, again provides us with a harsh and realistic visual of hardship at the front.

Captioning Information & SUBSCRIBER INTERACTIONS

The captions beneath the post range from short to long in length, however, still present enough information for the viewer to accurately interpret what they are seeing in the photograph. The captions are arranged in the same format across all posts: date in history, location and description of media, followed by a reference to the source of information/content.

Post by @thisdayinwwi from February 6, 2022.

The comment sections underneath the posts are not overwhelming, most comments left by followers are of an appreciative nature rather than questions posed to the admin.


Overall, I found this Instagram page to be interesting and informative. The content posted was always WWI related and I enjoyed the experience of being able to view events on the day that they happened over 100 years ago.


Brief Summary

Again, out of the seven potential Instagram pages presented as options for this assignment, this profile stuck out to me as I noticed a common theme across its posts. @ww1photos_info is unique in that, with the exception of one or two photographs, it strictly displays pictures identifying soldiers alongside a quote or experience from their life. The account has 154k subscribers and is a public page, meaning that there is no request process in order to view the creator’s content. The demographic trend is, again, a diverse population. Followers of the page range from private individuals of all ages and backgrounds to other fellow “history accounts.” The admin of this account did a wonderful job giving a voice to individuals who might have been otherwise forgotten. The narratives are richly written despite the Instagram caption word-limit and are effective in evoking a range of emotions.



To reiterate, it is impressive that the quality of the photographs, despite them being digitized and over 100 years old, are clear and the images are recognizable. This particular account collaborates with a specialized historian to colorize the otherwise black and white photos. In my personal opinion, we often associate B&W photographs with being “old” and consider them to be “from a long time ago,” which distances us from the subjects in the photographs. The colorized aspect, I feel, paints life into the soldiers’ faces and is one of the factors working to invoke a feeling of closeness with these individuals through their pictures.

1916: German soldiers during a toilet break on a “Donnerbalken.”

I really enjoyed the content on this page (no, not because of the male buttocks) as it does an excellent job in selecting candid photographs that capture the ranges of emotions soldiers feel whilst at the front. This particular photograph, conveys feelings of camaraderie, closeness and desensitization, all of which soldiers develop at the front. It is reminiscent of the “business” scene in All Quiet on the Western Front and drives home the shift in thinking many soldiers learned to adapt to.

We have learned better than to be shy about such trifling immodesties. In time things far worse than that came easy to us… Enforced publicity has in our eyes restored the character of complete innocence to all these things” (Remarque 8).

1916: French soldiers resting at the Gare de l’Est train station in Paris, FR

This profile did not shy away from addressing issues such as depression, coping mechanisms and gore. The photograph above depicts French soldiers waiting for a train to transport them to the front after a period of leave in Paris. The admin writes that the haggard state of the men is likely due to rigorous drinking done the night before. In Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms, we are introduced to the presence of alcoholism in World War One and how it became a crutch and/or escape for many of the men involved in the war.

March 15-16, 1916: Combat shot of German soldiers launching an attack during the Battle of Verdun.


While the subjects of the photograph are compelling to observe, the narratives and stories posted alongside them ask the viewer to acknowledge and appreciate the subject’s struggles and triumphs. Together with the colorization of the photos, the detailed accounts and deep-dive into history inspire feelings of reflection and empathy. The photograph below depicts a French soldier, Pierre, writing a letter to his wife on September 22, 1916. I have selected and written out an excerpt from the letter, as the captioning was too long to fit in a single screenshot.

1916: French soldier writing a letter during the Battle of Verdun.

“My dear Édith, life here is very hard. In the trenches, the stench of the dead reigns. Rats invade us, parasites eat our skin; we live in the mud, it invades us, slows us down, and tears our boots. The cold is added to these tortures. This icy wind which freezes our bones, it hunts us every day. At night, it is impossible for us to sleep. To must be ready at any moment, ready to attack, ready to kill. To kill, that is the focal point of our existence. They keep telling us that you must kill to survive, but I prefer saying live to kill. This is how I exist every minute in this inferno. Without hygiene. Without rest. Without you. Without life. This is nothing compared to the morbid trenches they send us to. On the battlefield, one finds nothing but corpses, poor soldiers rotting on the blood-soaked ground. The shells, the mines, they destroy everything in their path. Everything is in ruins. The stench of mass graves, the sound of the cannons, the screams of comrades…I write this letter to you when I should be alongside the others, fighting for my country. Our country doesn’t aid us much. They send us to massacre men while they sit at their desks; but in reality, I’m sure they’re terrified of death.”

1916: German soldiers posing for a photograph with captured rats at the entrance of a dug-out.

German soldier Søren P. Petersen reported of his challenges with rats on January 23, 1916:

“In the basements below the shattered houses we lay in reserve. The quarters would’ve been more than comfortable had we not been forced to share them with an uncountable amount of rats. The selfish bastards devoured everything that was somewhat edible, and all foodstuffs we couldn’t store away we had to hang up with string from the ceiling. They crept in under our blankets when we were sleeping and ran across our faces, but I never once heard of anyone being bitten by them.”

The comment section on almost all of the photographs posted to this account hold large amounts of questions from subscribers. What I found to be impressive was the admin’s interactions with their followers and consistency in answering the numerous questions with lengthy and informed responses.


This account is one that I will continue to follow even after the conclusion of this assignment. The admin of this profile posts multiple pictures every day and never fails to caption them with long, touching stories as well as accurate historical backgrounds.

Grace Schumacher’s Reading Questions for 2/17

A FAREWELL TO ARMS: Part II (pgs. 79-159)

“‘I hear you are going to get the silver metal,’ Ettore said to me. ‘What kind of citation you going to get?’ ‘I don’t know. I don’t know I am going to get it.’ ‘You’re going to get it. Oh boy, the girls at the Cova will think you’re fine then. They’ll all think you killed two hundred Austrians or captured a whole trench by yourself…’ ‘How many have you got, Ettore?’ asked the vice-consul. ‘He’s got everything,’ Simmons said. ‘He’s the boy they’re running the war for.’ ‘I’ve got the bronze twice and three silver metals,’ said Ettore” (Hemingway 105).

1. While the Italians are right up against the Austrians at the Eastern front, there seems to be “no sense of danger” and a “lack of investment” displayed by the men. In the excerpt above, Ettore, almost braggingly, shares the number of metals he has been awarded. He says, quote: “‘Believe me, I got to work for my decorations… but the papers on only one have come through… When the action isn’t successful they hold up all the metals.’

This behavior contrasts the sentiments expressed by characters in both All Quiet and Not So Quiet, where metals are of little value to the men to whom they are given. Roy Evans-Mawnington in Not So Quiet is a prime example of this: “Sometimes I think Mother would rather have a decoration than me…” (Smith 225).

It has already been expressed by multiple characters that the war holds no value to the soldiers fighting in it. Do you think the men engage in this “competition” in order to motivate themselves to keep returning to the front?

* * *

“He said that we were all cooked but we were alright as long as we did not know it. We were all cooked. The thing was not to recognize it. The last country to realize they were cooked would win the war” (Hemingway 116).

“‘This war is killing me,’ Rinaldi said, ‘I am very depressed by it.’ He folded his hand over his knee. ‘Oh,’ I said. ‘What’s the matter? Can’t I even have human impulses?’ ‘No. I can see you have been having a fine time'” (Hemingway 146).

2. The “willful ignorance,” with regards to the war, practiced by the men is also adopted by Paul and his comrades in All Quiet. Is this a coping mechanism? By acknowledging the war, does it gain power over you?

* * *

“‘Come over here please,’ Catherine said. The flatness was all gone out of her voice. ‘Come over, please. I’m a good girl again.’ I looked over at the bed. She was smiling. I went over and sat on the bed beside her and kissed her. ‘You’re my good girl'” (Hemingway 133).

“‘You’re a nice boy,’ she said. ‘And you play it as well as you know how. But it’s a rotten game.’ ‘Do you always know what people think?’ ‘Not always. But I do with you. You don’t have to pretend you love me. That’s over for the evening. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?’ ‘But I do love you.’ ‘Please let’s not lie when we don’t have to. I had a very fine little show and I’m all right now” (Hemingway 27).

3. It can be argued that Cat is a “static character” used by Hemingway as an index of Henry’s “maturation” throughout the novel. However, in the excerpt above, Catherine seems to have checked her behavior in order to remain appealing to Henry. This is a contradiction to her behavior in the first few chapters within the novel, where she appears to be “hot & cold” and looks to Henry solely for his professions of love. What do you make of this change? Do you think there is one? Do you think it has anything to do with her pregnancy?