Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Roads Classic: Rat Catching — The Sport of the Trenches

The post about the Antwerp Olympiad the other day reminded me of this article. Back when we were lucky to have a couple of hundred visitors a day, this was one of our most popular articles.

I imagine readers have probably wondered if the soldiers of the Great War had much time to exercise and indulge their sporting and non-lethal competitive instincts when serving in the trenches. Well, below is proof they did. In lieu of the cancelled 1916 Olympic Games (scheduled for Berlin, by the way) the boys spent their spare time tracking down their trench mates, Mr. Rat and his gazillion cousins, and sending as many as possible to the great Rat Hotel in the sky. I don't know what impresses me more about the photos below — the dedication, enthusiasm, and pride of the German and French rat-catching teams with their catches shown below, or simply the frightening number of the vermin. Rats were clearly in endless supply on the Western Front.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of the passage from R C Sheriff's play "Journey's End". One character is reading from his diary:
    "An enemy airman came over. Shot a rat"
    "Did he?"
    "No you idiot, I shot the rat!"