Often in his stories Bruce Marshall wrote of the men who returned after the First World War, how in the beginning those who were crippled had been treated with deference on the city's trams, but that after a few months people had begun to resent their slowness and they were left to stand rather than offered seats and got jostled around like everyone else.
James Luckypenny had lost a leg going over the top in World War One. He had thought that his children saw him as a hero, but they did not, only as the minor accountant he was and had been before and after the war.
During the war Luckypenny had looked forward to peace, but had been almost certain that he would not live to enjoy it.
Immediately after the war, Luckypenny had thought that peace was indeed wonderful, although perhaps not quite so wonderful as he had imagined it was going to be, but perhaps that was because out of uniform he had ceased to be a person of consequence.
Ten years after the war, Luckypenny had regretted the war, remembering its humors and comradeship, and forgetting its horrors.
Fifteen years after the war, Luckypenny quite frankly desired war, with all its mud and cold and pain; he wanted to be somebody again, but above all he wanted to do something that he knew was worth doing, and get away from home and sit in bars and restaurants with men that he liked and not give a damn about the bill.
Source: Bruce Marshall, Luckypenny (1937), Chapter 2.
Ironically the sense of purpose ("something that he knew was worth doing") that Luckypenny felt was an illusion. The First World War, The Great War, was not "the war to end all wars"; it was not "the war to make the world safe for democracy"; it was in fact only a prelude to the Second World War.
And those responsible for this, Maynard Keynes wrote ("The Council of Four, Paris, 1919"), were three: Clemenceau, Lloyd George, and Woodrow Wilson. Woodrow Wilson who was out of his depth; Lloyd George who believed in nothing; and Clemenceau who believed that wars between France and Germany were inevitable, and who wanted therefore to cause as much damage to Germany as possible in order to delay for long as possible the next war.
A further irony is that the Montfaucon Monument, a tower that rises two-hundred feet above the ruins of Montfaucon, itself 900 feet above sea level, not far from the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Lorraine, France, was completed in 1933, just in time to overlook the German rearmament of the Rhineland, a rearmament that was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. Keynes said the treaty was one the victors never intended to enforce and the vanquished never intended to obey.
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Last revised: 25 November 2019 : 2019-11-25 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.