Excerpt from The Children's Story of the War, Vol. 2: From the Battle of Mons to the Fall of Antwerp
When the young soldier arrives at the barracks he is given three suits of clothes, one of which is his drill dress, another his walking-out dress, and the third his war dress.... These clothes he keeps on a shelf above his bed, and he so arranges his garments that the French colours, blue, white, and red, are clearly seen. In summer he rises at 4 a.m., and in winter at 6 a.m., and he goes to bed at 9 p.m. All the year round, except when he is on sentry-go, or has permission to stay out late. Every day the barrack-room is inspected, to see that the beds are properly made, that the men's clothes are in good order, and that the room is clean and tidy. The little breakfast, which consists of coffee and a roll, is served at 5 a.m.; lunch is eaten at ten o'clock, and dinner at five. The meals usually consist of soup, meat, vegetables, and fruit. On great occa sions wine is supplied, and cigars are handed round. The conscript's pay consists of one sou (a halfpenny) a day, and his tobacco. Some of the men receive money from their parents and friends others have to make shift on the tri¿ing allowance which the Government gives them.
The men who begin their service in a particular year are known as the class of that year. Thus the men who joined the colours in 1914 belong to the class of 1914. Frenchmen fix all their dates by reference to la classe. When two Frenchmen meet almost the first question they put to each other is, Of what class are you P When two or three men who have served their time in the same regiment come together they are like old schoolfellows; they love to recall their ex periences, and chat about the jokes and tricks and scrapes of their soldiering days.
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