Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Digging, Economics, Religion and Compensation

If you have not been, I urge you all, in the strongest possible terms, to read Bill Deedes' account of his time as a Company Commander shortly after D-Day. Tim Worstall has commented on the - almost inhuman - pettiness of the dockers at the time. My attention was grabbed further on:
"Funny thing this digging. On exercises, the men loathed it and would never do a hand's turn."
I can relate to this. I vividly recall an exercise on Salisbury Plain where my company was to set up a defensive position. That, as any infantryman will tell you, means digging. We found barely 3 or 4 inches of topsoil before hitting solid chalk interspersed with flint. Digging through this - by hand, in silence, at night and at 10 degrees below freezing - is not for the faint-hearted.
Now they've had some shells near them, they dig in preference to bed, which is pretty remarkable. The Germans produce all the unpleasant explosives they can …
As Tim would say, incentives matter.
… but a nice deep hole is surprisingly effective.
Lord Deedes is right. It is astonishing how a trench provides protection against the truly awesome power of artillery. But then...
As our padre remarked: 'There's no such thing as an atheist in a slit trench.'

And I doubt the occupant would be worrying about his hurt feelings either.

No comments: