Arthur Douglas Crease Letters, Diaries and Scrapbooks
Letters from Arthur Douglas Crease of Victoria to his brother Lindley Crease and his mother Sarah Crease; instructions for the offensive of July 26, 1917; a regimental notebook, diaries and scrapbook. Learn more.
*All transcriptions are provided by volunteers, and the accuracy of the transcriptions is not guaranteed. Please be sure to verify the information by viewing the image record, or visiting the BC Archives in person.
THE OBSERVER, SUNDAY, JULY 22, 1917. 79
THINGS SEEN: FROM FLANDERS TO ALSACE.
A few days in Paris, chiefly with young friends, who poured out their hopes for reconstruction in France, and were equally keen about my own dreams for reconstruction in Britain. In love of our two countries, we discussed everything in the world, and cross-examined our ideals without abating one jot of them. To me for one, may it ever be given to keep in touch with the best of the new generation, young and fresh and sound spirits who can both act and dream. One day we went with them from charming Meanx to shattered Senlis, along the Oureq flank of the Marne battlefield. How critically the issue was suspended almost to the lat I had never so closely realised; and trembled as though the Boche had taken Nanteuil yesterday and set the fate of the Marne battle in doubt again. Many things in that battle are a mystery yet. Another day, I saw General Pershing receive the flags of honour in the court of the Invalides amidst a hollow square of Americans in khaki. The statue of Napoleon - an expert in eagles - brooded above and approved the young bird from over the Atlantic. The little advance-guard of the fighting power of the United States stepped out through Paris. That was history visible and marching. For six months or more the Entente Cordiale must carry the weight of this war until America's first million is ready for the grapple.
The final and, in some ways, the crowning thing was the visit to the Vosges. I had wished to get fresh touch again with the question of Alsace-Lorraine. At first it had not seemed possible, but it was made possible. So let
At Thann, down the valley, the swing of social life was inimitably French. Yet in the ruined part there is a dead church where the figure of Christ on the rood is decapitated by a shell. It compares in symbolic power with the Virgin of Albert, though a dreadful contrast. On another hill that same afternoon we lay deep in the grass with our Alsatian officers, and each of our friends looked over the German lines towards the place where he was born, and each told his tale. Twenty years ago they gave up home, with all its ties, in one typical case wealth as well, and now they are waiting for the deliverance that must come, as they have waited here for three long years with the controlled intensity of passion which marks considerable men. Next morning we went to a little school where the village boys and girls are rapidly learning French. At another hamlet the seventy-fives were hammering the Boches entrenched some two thousand yards away. There a regimental band played the "Star-spangled Banner" and then, did more than play "Tipperary" - a French trooper with a ringing voice sang the English words with an accent that was an "entente cordiale" in itself. All standing at salute, we closed on the "Marseillaise," shook hands, and parted. When I think of Alsace now, I shall think of green valleys forested to the top, of song and merriment and agonies concealed, and of still, blue upper mountains that overlook all else in the evening like the spirits of the land. The reconquered corner is a pledge for the redemption of the rest. From the North Sea coast to the Swiss border it is going to be a long fight. It must be a fight at any cost until France, at long last, sees the sunrise of her new day breaking eastward from the Rhine.
BC Archives, MS-0055 Box 15 File 2 / CREASE FAMILY / Letters from Arthur Douglas Crease to his brother, Lindley Crease, 1917.