Still Quiet On The Western Front

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In Joncherey there is but the little monument. Only a slight exercise of imagination is needed, however, to project one’s mind back to the summer of 1914, that beautiful time ever after remembered as the sweetest months of men’s lives, to where Corporal Peugeot is lying dead across the threshold of the house and Lieutenant Mayer is dead upon the road. After Mayer’s patrol scatters into the woods, the two dead soldiers are picked up and put on a bed of straw in the local grange. They lie side by side for several hours. Then they are buried. Peugeot in civilian life was a schoolteacher. His mother was a schoolteacher, too. He was twenty-one years old. Mayer, the official French report said, was twenty to twenty-two years old “at the most.” His horse was taken by the French military authorities and given a new name: “Joncherey.”

Today the curé of the town, Father Marcel Holder, does not speak of the Boche and the Frenchman, or even the German and the Frenchman. Only of two bovs who killed each other.