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Remembered Today:

John and Marie

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About this blog

An Episodic Love Story of the Great War

Entries in this blog

Part 24 - Madame Leads Low

"But Georges," said Dominique, dismayed, "How do I do that?" The General considered a minute. "It isn't going to be easy. You will have to go to her. Take Drouin and a Staff car - it will be better than arriving in your own car with chauffeur, and the fact that the village is in the Canadian military zone is a good excuse. As to what you are to say, I can't tell you that. It will be up to you to read Marie, and respond in whatever way will touch her." And so it was that a week lat

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson in John and Marie

Part 33 - Life on the Other Side

The transition from CEF Sergeant to civilian father of two boys was at first fairly smooth. Three years of soldiering had accustomed John to broken sleep, so rocking fretful babies back to sleep was easier for him than many other a new father. And it was some months before he ceased to look at Marie as she slept beside him and wonder in awe at how they had come together at last. Very different he thought from the few British and Canadian soldiers he met who had married in France. Apart from

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Update

I see that it has been over two years since I've added to the story of John and Marie. Life has been busy, and of course having got them married, and John reunited with her, it isn't as easy to think up new episodes. However I do have a few ideas up me sleeve, and hopefully will return to this. Michael

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 32 - A New Beginning

A bright September sun shone on John's back as he trudged along the road, carrying, for the first time in three years, only a haversack. He had left the rest of his web equipment with the battalion. He carried no weapon. Everything had happened so quickly, he thought to himself. A sudden summons from his Captain, who smiled wearily and said, "It's come through at last – your discharge." Then mounds of forms in the orderly room to be filled out. "We had to borrow some from the British Army;

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Note

Somehow Part 29 ended up at the beginning of the Blog - I thought it had been lost. I've renumbered the last two parts accordingly, but 29 is out of order.

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 31 - Why are we waiting?

With the news of Marie's pregnancy, John's patience practically vanished. Despite his Captain's best efforts he was unable to get leave. Instead, he was forced to sit in camp as the battalion went through a daily grind of make-work. How easy it would be to desert, he thought. Once in France I could blend right in. The General could make sure they never got me back. He checked daily orders. Sure enough, "1000 hours - lecture - Should higher education be compulsory?" He took his seat in t

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 30 - Another letter

"It will be understood that few events of interest occur from day to day when a Battalion remains billeted in the same area for a long space of time. There is a regular routine, embracing drill, physical training and educational classes, which is varied occasionally by a special lecture. Dances and concerts are frequent. As the month wore on to the middle Demobilization naturally figured largely in all matters pertaining to the Battalion." War Diary 102nd Battalion April 1, 1919 His week's

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 28 - Noces en depeche mode

The exhilaration of crossing the Rhine was past. The 102nd were now sitting on their duffs in Boitsfort Belgium, and growing impatient. For the umpteenth time, John went to see his Captain. "Sir, I need to find a way to take my discharge here. Not in Canada." "John, I understand. But it's too early to start talking discharges. We're still an occupying army; there's no peace treaty signed - or even negotiated." Then an idea came to John. "I understand, Sir, but what about a short leave? If I

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 27 - How Long?

The news of the Armistice brought some relief to Marie. She no longer had to worry about John being killed or wounded. The next week passed in an air of euphoria. Surely John would soon be able to come back to her. She had had a letter, written the morning of the 12th, which talked of his hopes, but which was lamentably short on concrete plans. The General was on convalescent leave, and came to visit frequently with Dominique. He had found some discharged soldiers, and work was already underwa

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 2A - Billets

It happened while we were in billets in Marie's village. As I've told, Marie and I got very friendly, and I was a frequent visitor in the Drollet home. It was about the fourth day there, my Captain calls me over. "John," he said, with a strange look in his eye, "I've had a request from Monsieur Drollet. It seems he has an extra bedroom, and would like you billeted with the family. Any objections?" It didn't take me long - apart from the thought of being near Marie, there was also the thou

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 26 - Dawn

John awoke from long habit at 5:30 a.m. He made his way to the firing step and found the Captain. "Good morning, Sir. Stand-to as usual?" The Captain looked at him. "Let's live dangerously for once, John. We'll take a chance. One platoon only, just in case." John routed out the unlucky platoon, and shepherded them complaining under their breath to take up their stand-to position on the firing step. In his pocket was a letter from Marie. He much preferred its tone to her last. My deares

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 25

"NOOOOOON!!!" General Matthieu awoke to find himself, as always, on his cot. He had had his recurring nightmare, one that had come again and again since August 1914. Long lines of poilus, clad in the red trousers and blue capotes of the pre-war era advanced in straight lines against les Boches, bugles blowing and bayonets shining. And they tumbled to the ground, cut down like wheat by the German machine guns. In vain he ordered them - pleaded with them, to take cover. Robot-like they ignored

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 15A - Canal du Nord

The reckless exhilaration of breaking the Drocourt-Queant Line was past. As the battalion bound its wounds and paused for breath, the Captain summoned D Company's N.C.O.s together. "Men, we've broken the Drocourt-Queant Line. Ahead lies the Canal du Nord. D Company has been detailed to reconnoitre ahead and see whether the Germans have retreated across the Canal, or whether they're trying to hold on this side. The going is bad - swampy land, and forest. Be careful and get word back as soon as

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 23 - Madame Takes Her Turn

Madame Johnson was not in a happy state of mind. Although she had long known that her son had a mind of his own, clearly two years as an N.C.O. had fostered an independence she would not have believed. Her mood had not improved when during a conversation with some of her friends the topic of conversation had turned to General Georges Matthieu. There were some things Dominique should know; after all, the two of you had been so close - we wondered why you didn't get engaged. But I suppose he had

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 22 - John in the Middle

One of the dilemmas of war is the fact that life continues, but the ability of the participants to deal with anything but their military duties is extremely limited. John felt this keenly. He felt reasonably sure that his mother had not deliberately snubbed Marie, but the result was the same in any case. If he could see Marie for even ten minutes he was sure that he could straighten things out. But his battalion was moving back into action, and leave was out of the question. He could not even

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 21 - Marie Again

Marie rose early. She had arranged to borrow her cousins' wagon to return to her village and see what she could salvage from the remains of the farmhouse. Her first stop was the cemetery, where the sight of the new grave where her mother was buried brought tears to her eyes. After a brief prayer she moved on. Little Mathieu ran to meet her. "Marie! Here's another letter for you!" Marie put it into her pocket after thanking him. She had work to do. John's letter could wait. It was h

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 20 - John Again

John came away from mail call with a handful of letters and a very confused mind. He recognized his mother's handwriting on the first letter, but it bore a French stamp. The second letter was a French Military letter. The third was from Marie. This was the one he chose to open first. Marie's handwriting was worse than usual, but John quickly grasped the extent of the tragedy that had befallen the Drolet family. Monsieur Drolet was recovering, but still in shock at his wife's death. Until suc

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 19 - Madame Misses a Trick

Madam and Marie worked together for the next two days. The little conversation that was possible revolved around their patients' needs. Marie was dying to question the mysterious lady, but did not dare. For her part Madame seemed oblivious to who her helper might be. Monsieur Drolet broke the impasse. With tears in her eyes, Marie told him of his wife's death. "We must get back for her funeral," Monsieur Drolet kept repeating. And then, seemingly by a miracle, but in actual fact due to

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 18 - The General in Check

"Drouin!" "Oui, mon Général?" "Get my car, we're going to visit the 102nd Canadians again. I want an answer to my request." As the General and his staff wound their way towards the Canadian lines, the General made a snap decision. "Stop at Izel-le-Hameaux. I want to visit that old comrade of my grandfather's." As they drew near, the General noted an ammunition dump that had not been there last trip. But soon they were at Monsieur Drolet's house, and talking with him and Marie, while Ma

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 17 - Madame Makes a Move

Madame Johnson sat in her drawing room. On the table before her was General Matthieu's letter. She read it again, then crossed to her desk and retrieved his previous letter concerning John and Marie. Then she pressed a piece of moulding, releasing a hidden drawer. From the drawer she pulled a batch of letters, tied with a ribbon. His handwriting really hadn't changed in nearly twenty years, she thought, as she added the General's letters to those he had written as a young Lieutenant. What was

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 16 - The General Considers

General Matthieu looked at the pile of correspondence before him. It sat in separate piles, sorted by his secretary. The official correspondence was opened and sorted in order of priority, from the highest echelon of command down to the lowest. Personal letters remained in their envelopes. He flipped through the latter. Where he recognized the handwriting, he would put them aside to consider at his leisure, and reply when he could. He paused when he came upon a faire-part. These were nothing

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 15 - A Time for Dying

The attack had been a failure. John led what was left of his platoon back to reform. He passed the stretcherbearers moving back to find their wounded and recover their dead. John knew that at least five of his men were dead. He heard a voice call from a stretcher being carried back. "Sarge! Come on over so I can say goodbye." It was Charlie Lickers, with a serious chest wound. John tried to hide his concern. "You did a great job out there, Charlie. I'm going to see if the Captain will put y

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 1A - The Letter

John was surprised to see a letter from Peggy. She hadn't written since seeing him off. He tore it open. Toronto August 21, 1916 Dear John By the time you receive this, I will be Mrs. Peggy Short. Yes, my dear, I'm marrying someone else. He's a brush salesman that I've been seeing since you left for France. George is in love with me, and will take care of me. I'm afraid I had no desire to be a widow before I had a chance to enjoy marriage. You charged off and enlisted without even talkin

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 14 - Choices

"Sarge, the Captain wants to see you. Right now." "I'm coming." The Captain looked perplexed. "John, the Colonel wants to see you." "Yes, Sir? Any idea what it's about?" "Well, it's not every day we get a letter from a French General." John groaned inwardly. Maman's fingerprints were all over this. He entered the battalion HQ with the Captain. The Colonel looked up. "Sergeant, what do you know about this?" And he handed over a letter. It was a request that Sergeant Johnson of the

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

Part 13 The Plot Thickens

Even the most ardent of young lovers cannot hold a kiss for ten minutes. Marie grabbed John's arm. "I have a plan. This General, he is très gentil, and I think he perhaps likes me a little, too. I could ask him to take you as an Aide. You speak much better French than le Capitaine Wilson." Général Matthieu to Madame Johnson: You need have no concern, cherie. The girl Marie is charmante, but also a hard worker and gentille. Her teacher spoke well of her as a pupil. If there had been money s

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson

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