Discover more from backstory
and answers to last week's quiz
My grandfather would never talk about the war. It was extremely frustrating for a small boy raised on comics like Victor which only published war stories. He did, however, give me this banknote, having been sent back to Germany in 1919 after the hostilities finished. It was there he must have caught Spanish flu and been sent home. When my father died, we dug out Grandad’s wartime notebook which seemed to only consist of the names and addresses of French girls. He was 18.
There was one other significant entry. “November. Gassed.”
From this I worked out he was at the Battle of Cambrai. He was a Lance Corporal in the Machine Gun Corps which, I learned, meant that he fired the gun. There were eight machine gun units that were sent to the Arles Wood sector where they spent three days mowing down the oncoming infantry until, tiring of this, the Germans fired chlorine gas shells. By then it seems likely that he had killed several hundred men. Little wonder that he never ever spoke about it, nor wanted anything to do with the military again.
The banknote was something he could talk about without danger. I remember him saying that, despite the 100,000 marks figure, it was worthless. He had only brought it back because he couldn’t buy anything with it.
Last week’s quiz…
Answers left to right from the top…
Madagascar, Comoros Islands, Mongolia, Yemen
Croatia, Ethiopia, Albania, Kyrgyzstan
Qatar, Philippines, Czech Republic, Serbia
How did you do? Quite tough with the arabic and cyrillic letters, especially the Comoros note which is a very grubby!
I’m off travelling now so may not be able to post anything for a couple of weeks. We shall see…