Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War

Fussell, Paul

Oxford University, 1989

p. 288

Tells how sanitized the war was for folk at home of all nations, and how disillusioning it was for soldiers to find this out at the end. Fussell quotes, Barry Broadfoot, ed., Six War Years 1939-1945: Memories of Canadians at Home and Abroad. “A returning soldier is met on the quay by ‘nice, smiling Red Cross or Salvation Army girls: They gave us a little bag and it has a couple of chocolate bars in it and a comic book . . . . We had gone overseas not much more than children but we were coming back, let’s face it, as killers. And they were still treating us as children. Candy and comic books.’”

p. 289

“According to his official biography, what [King George VI) saw on his numerous visits to bombed-out areas fueled his instinct for high-mindedness. He concluded that among the bombed and maimed he was witnessing a ‘fellowship of self-sacrifice’ and ‘good-neighborliness,’ a comradeship of adversity in which men and women gave of their noblest to one another, a brotherhood of man in which the artificial barriers of caste and class were broken down . . . . ‘” He never noticed that perfect fear casts out love. He never noted that when the Normandy invasion was going on British jails were full of deserters and British public places scrawled with “bitter anti-Jewish graffiti, nor the widespread thievery, looting, and robbing of the dead at bomb sites. Or what Nicholas Moutsenat, Breaking In, Breaking Out, pg. 288 describes as the scene at Cafe de Paris in London, March 8, 1941, after it was bombed: ‘The first thing which the rescue squads and the firemen saw as their torches poked through the gloom and the smoke and the bloody pit which had lately been the most chic cellar in London, was a frieze of other shadowy men, night-creatures who had scuttled within as soon as the echoes ceased, crouching over any dead or wounded woman, any bloody corpse they could find, and ripping off its necklace, or earrings, or broach: rifling its handbag, scooping up its loose change.’”