Cyclists still at war: the carabineer cyclists at the Front.

The adventures of the Mechanical Mounted Infantry continued to draw press attention across the autumn of 1914, bringing other new patterns of language in their wake. One form which Clark assiduously noted down in this context was the carabineer cyclist, a combination which was  (and indeed remains)  unrecorded in English dictionaries. As we are informed at, for example, carabineer is now a distinctly historical form, and is labelled accordingly. Its definition, however, suggests a history which is by no means in alignment with WWI and the evidence of words in war time which Clark provides. As the entry explains, a carabineer is ‘A cavalry soldier whose principal weapon was a carbine’, Cavalry, if we follow the link, provides the further meaning ‘(In the past) soldiers who fought on horseback’, as in ‘the cavalry charged up the hill; the army numbered around 100,000 cavalry’. ‘In previous wars, horsed cavalry had performed such a role, but cavalry were generally of little use in the trenches of the Western Front’, as a further example avers. Carabineer cyclists are distinctly anamalous in this light.

Such definitions have, of course, their own place in history. The first citation for carabineer in the Oxford English Dictionary is, for example, from Nathan Bailey’s 1721 Universal Etymological English Dictionary: ‘Carabineers, horse-men who carry Carabines’. Later examples in the OED  confirm the continuity of this sense. Nevertheless, if, as modern lexicography suggests, cavalry is traditionally the essence of the carabineer, then extracts such as the one below, taken from the Daily Express on the 30th September 1914, offer rather different readings in which the (German) cavalry is placed in marked opposition to the carabineer cyclist, whose superior skill (and mount of a rather different kind) is clearly made to win the day:

A Belgian carabineer cyclist showed me a cavalry cap, with the familiar skull and crossbones embroidered on the front, which he tore from the body of a horseman after shooting him in a wood near Erpe on Saturday afternoon.

This is taken from a first-person (and first-hand)  report of a war correspondent who, as here, sought to provide an eye-witness account of the realities of events at the front. Against the stasis of meaning which English dictionaries suggest, carabineers had, at least in this context, clearly moved on, riding bicycles rather than horses, even if the gun remains an essential aspect of their armoury. Clark provides another similar example from a news report headed ‘Roadside Battle Pictures’: ‘Another carabineer cyclist pounds along the road, and slows up long enough to shout, “We are to advance.” (Daily Express, 30th Sept 1914).

In 2014, the OED entry for carabineer meanwhile still remains rooted in a far earlier time. First published in 1888, it has, as yet, not been updated, and its most recent evidence dates from 1873. The entry for carbine reveals similar problems of time and change: ‘A kind of firearm, shorter than the musket, used by the cavalry and other troops; ‘a kind of medium between the pistol and the musket’ (Johnson)’. Evidence stops in the mid-19thC, and includes examples such as the Duke of Wellington’s  Dispatches from 1815 (‘I will apply for the Carbines for your Cavalry’) and W. Greener’s  Gunnery in 1858 (Double rifled carbines can be constructed of so light a weight that their exclusive use for cavalry is not far distant’). Nevertheless, as my history colleague at Pembroke confirms, carbines – at least for the British – no longer defined the carabineer in WW1, though – as for the Belgian forces — carabineer (as title) could be used to define particular regiments in the infantry. News reports in the autumn of 1914 frequently refer to carabineers, though carabineer cyclists represent a new departure on both counts, and in ways which extend, of course, to language and the combinatory forms which specific points of history can yield. Entries of this kind provided still more justification for Clark’s self-appointed role in watching language change, and recording the potentially ephemeral forms which could, as here, arise.

Watching change in progress: shrapnel

The aim behind Clark’s ‘Words in War-Time’ project was to look at language, history, and their interrelationship, at close quarters. While the Oxford English Dictionary applied historical principles to language from 1150 to the present day, Clark aimed to look at language, and history, as it happened – testing historical principles in the everyday and as prompted by what gradually emerged as one of the most significant historical events of the twentieth century. A range of words can, in different ways, reveal, and confirm, change in progress (in language and war alike) in the autumn of 1914 – confirming, too, Clark’s intuitions about the salience of observing language in a period of unprecedented historical change.

Shrapnel, mentioned briefly in an earlier post, was, for example, particularly interesting in the changing patterns of use that Clark’s early notebooks reveal. This had, in fact, been one of the most recent entries in the OED as it then existed.  The relevant section of the dictionary had been published in late March 1914; as the image below illustrates, the history of shrapnel was tracked from 1806 when the inventiveness of General Shrapnel in the Peninsular war gave his name to this new mode of attack and defence. Shrapnel, the OED wrote, was ‘A hollow projectile containing bullets and a small bursting charge, which when fired by the time fuse, bursts the shell and scatters the bullets in a shower’. As this definition indicates, the shrapnel is the casing, and the contents are the bullets. Constructions such as shrapnel shell, as in the quotations from 1870 and 1890, make this meaning particularly clear.


Tracking language in use in September and October 1914, this meaning of shrapnel, as Clark demonstrates, is, as expected, often in evidence. An article headed ‘The Battle of Soissons. A View of the Fighting’, which Clark took from the Scotsman on the 16th of September described, for example, the paradoxical beauty of war:

As a panoramic scene the engagement was beautiful. The day was cold and clear. The city, particularly the cathedral, stood out in bold relief in its little valley, while the shrapnel exploded above it in balloon-like floating white puffs. Occasionally black smoke rose where the siege shells burst.

In this account, shrapnel – just as in the OED — is a single entity which explodes, scattering its contents to fall with intentionally devastating effects on those below. Other comments in the same article make this sense particularly plain:

the French shrapnel exploded low and accurately’

My first view of the fighting was shrapnel bursting about the beautiful two-steepled cathedral’.

Yet, at the same time, another transferred use also starts to be perceptible in Clark’s notebooks. Here, shrapnel instead comes, by a process of semantic extension, to designate the contents of the shell rather than the shell itself. By the 28th of September, for example, the two senses co-exist, as in the following extract from the Scotsman:

As soon as the French infantry deploy their ranks and appear in the open they are met with showers of shrapnel, which also is not as deadly as it looks from a distance. Then follows the hurried “tat-tat-tat” of machine-guns from the woods and spinneys, and then the long rattle of musketry from the trenches along the ridges.

As in this highly visual account, the showers of shrapnel fall from the shells which have already exploded; meaning is taken in directions which the OED entry of six months before had conspicuously not included. As Clark realised, equally significant in this respect was the rise of new compounds (in both adjective and noun) such as shrapnel splinter  and shrapnel bullet. These serve to consolidate the patterns of semantic transfer at work, making plain the shift in the physical form that shrapnel is assumed to have, as well as its changing orientation of sense:

we have a lovely little hutch … just room for three to lie down, and the top is shrapnel-splinter proof. We have had one or two bits landing on it. [‘Stories of the Fighting’, Daily Express October 20th 1914]

In the case of these arrows and bullets it is sufficient to release them, without any initial momentum because the speed which they gather in flight, due to gravity, ensures their reaching the earth with considerable velocity, which increases in proportion to the height of the aircraft… In the case of shrapnel bullets, weighing, say, twenty to the pound, this would mean a striking energy of 160 foot pounds’ (Daily Express 19th September 1914)

Mme. van Dessalaere was struck in her right leg by shrapnel bullets, and her recovery is not expected … shrapnel struck her down (Daily Express, October 7th 1914)

Shrapnel in the last two examples is transferred to the bullets  which fall with lethal force to earth; in the former, it  is a ‘splinter’ – designating the ‘bits’ that shells contain rather than the shell per se (although this may, of course, also signal the ‘bits’ of the disintegrating shell). As the final example confirms, however, shrapnel can also be used without the specifying bullets to indicate the mode of injury and attack.

As in the quotation from the Scotsman above, sense-divisions of this kind also  came to contribute to common images of the ‘rain’ or ‘hail’ of shells in contemporary accounts of the life at the front. ‘The moment a few battalions had crossed, shrapnel began to rain in on our men as if from the blue above’, as the Evening News noted on October 1st 1914, in an article entitled ‘Heroic Royal Engineers’. Another similar example occurs in the Daily Express on October 20th 1914:

‘We spent two days in the trenches under a rain of shell fire, and we got quite clever in judging the distance at which their shells would burst by the hum of the blooming things’ [‘Thrilling adventures in the Retreat from Antwerp’, Daily Express, October 20 1914]

In the autumn of 1914, Clark can therefore reveal the play of  meaning and changing familiarization of this word as both noun and adjective. For a time, in popular comment in the autumn of 1914,  shrapnel can ambiguously designate both whole and part, projectile and the hostile contents of the shells which sailed overhead. By the end of October, the OED entry of six months earlier was therefore distinctly out of date. History – and language – had moved on. Shrapnel had not only one sense but three. If meaning begins, historically, in a single type of shell, it swiftly extends, during the terrible familiarization of WW1,  to denote the contents of that type of shell. As war advances, however, it can, in turn, lose its reference to this specific shell-type, designating, more broadly, the devastating contents of bombs, together with the kinds of widespread injury they cause, as in compounds such as shrapnel wounds, shrapnel injuries. The meaning ‘Fragments from shells or bombs’  is ‘Now the usual sense.’, as the modern OED notes, dating such use to October 1914. ** As Clark confirms therefore, while General Shrapnel — in yet another eponym of English — gives his name to this spherical projectile, it was language in use along the front, and by soldiers rather than generals, which instead gradually changed the patterns of signification which remain in use today.

** The revised OED entry can be seen at shrapnel, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2014. Web. 1 December 2014.

Shattering the nerves: sound effects in WWI

Nerves – and the importance, as well as difficulty, of keeping one’s nerve — was a recurrent image which runs through reports of war in the autumn of 1914. To have nerve was to be commended; the word had been used figuratively in denoting bravery, vigour, and force since the Renaissance. The specific sense ‘coolness in adversity or danger; boldness; courage, assurance’ is documented from 1809 in the Oxford English Dictionary. Yet, by the eighteenth century, nerve could also point in other, diametrically opposed, directions. Used in the plural, nerves suggested not valour but nervousness, a heightened sensitivity to events which by no means augured well in a time of war. Nerve and nerviness could, as a result, work in mutually exclusive ways. If nerviness is documented only from 1916 in OED Online (being attested in Vera Brittain’s letters),** the reality of language practice in WWI, as Clark’s notebooks confirm, was very different. Already in August 1914 readers of the Daily Express were reassured about the calm fortitude of the British Expeditionary Force. ‘No ‘nerviness’’, the headline on 27th August proclaimed, in a sense which the following article also elaborated:

There is no trace of that “nerviness” so noticeable among the recruities of the early days of South Africa.

Such certainties could, however, be called into question as war advanced. That modern warfare was an attack on the nerves –as much as the body — was often made plain. Long before the term shell-shock come into use, journalists – and soldiers –repeatedly drew attention to the debilitating effects of the sheer noise of battle, by which nerves could be racked and shattered, and in which an ‘attack of nerves’ might overpower even the strongest men. As Clark notes, for example, idioms in which the nerves were shattered attained marked familiarity across the autumn of 1914 and into 1915. If shatter the nerves remained (and remains) absent from the OED (the relevant section of the Dictionary was completed in March 1914), Clark again provides carefully documented evidence –tracking a responsiveness of words to war, and the unprecedented contexts it brought into being:

The effect on the nerves is terrible, and I suppose it intended to shatter the nerves of our men. Only the strongest can stand it for long, and most of us found it best to stuff our ears with cotton wool or tear up out handkerchiefs

as a first-hand account in the Daily Express of 2nd September 1914 proclaimed. ‘Noise seems to count for a lot with the Germans’, another report (in the same newspaper) laconically observed on 19th September 1914.

A similar observation appeared in the Evening News on September 2nd:

It’s the quantity, not the quality of the German shells that is heaving effect on us, and it’s not so much the actual damage to life as the nerve-racking row that counts for so much.

The noise of battle – and the extent of mechanised warfare across a front which, even in early September, stretched, for instance, from the Vosges to Peronne (as the Scotsman  reported), was unparalleled. Shells and shrapnel repeatedly scream and screech across the skies (in a range  of new collocations of English), testing the nerves as well as bringing danger in other forms: ‘The scream of shrapnel did not daunt us and, yelling and shouting, we became frantic and so did our horses. The rifle fire was soon silenced, as we must have ridden down the German infantry and cut them to pieces’, as an article in the Evening News stated on 29th September 1914. ‘The shells screeched hour after hour’, the Scotsman notes on 17 September 1914. The men were faced by a ‘terrestrial thunderstorm’, as the Evening News commented on 19th September 1914, attempting to suggest somehwar of what modern battle was like.

Trying to convey the reality of war on these terms was challenging, requiring other distinctive forms of ‘word-imagery’ and ‘word-pictures’ to make their way into use. As Clark notes, a strikingly expressive vocabulary can appear. This, too, often remains absent from the OED:

As soon as the French infantry deploy their ranks and appear in the open they are met with showers of shrapnel, which also is not as deadly as it looks from a distance. Then follows the hurried “tat-tat-tat” of machine-guns from the woods and spinneys, and then the long rattle of musketry from the trenches along the ridges

as a lengthy and descriptive article in the Scotsman stated on 28 September 1914. This confirmed, too, a new (and newly familiarised) sense of shrapnel, by which it came to be understood as ‘fragments from shells or bomb’s, rather than explosive shells per se). Shrapnel was documented in the OED in this sense from October 1914 (in a section revised in June 2014). Here, too, Clark’s evidence antedates the formal record of English and its history.

News discourse, as Clark notes, could strive for a marked sense of the onomatopoeic in this respect.

The rattle of the machine guns supplemented the noise of the naval guns. Then the field artillery added to the chorus. But all this noise could not drown the irregular rat-tat-tat of the infantry’ [ ‘British Squadron off the Belgian Coast: Shelling the Germans’, Scotsman 21 October 1914].

Likewise, the Daily Express on September 2nd draws attention to the ‘r-r-r-r-r–h of the Maxims’, while ‘the peculiar zh-zh-zh-zh of the shrapnel’ featured in the Daily Express on 14th September 1914. ‘You could hear the mitrailleuse ta-ta, ta-ta, ta-ta’, wrote a journalist in the Daily Express on October 17th 1914, describing an ‘air-duel’; similar was the click-click-wh-wh-wh -of the murderous machine’, here in attempts to evoke the flight of an ‘aerial pirate’ over Paris in the Evening News on 3rd September 1914.

Modern war-reporting can, of course, use not only print and the form of the written word, but also sound itself. In broadcast news, we can be offered an experiential directness – the war-reporter not only speaks directly, but the sounds of war can provide an all too evocative backdrop to events. Writing war in 1914 was very different; the BBC – and national radio — would not, for example, be formed until after the war. If we have war reports (and sound recording) for WWII, it was print which dominated in WW1. News reporting can, as a result, often engage with a determined attempt to covey the sounds and texture of war in ways which are highly distinctive. As a later post on this site will explore, however, other media were already starting to emerge. ‘The Cinemagraph is going to be a damning witness against the Germans in this war. The Kinemacolour pictures … reveal to those who cannot see it with their own eyes, the full tragedy of Louvain and the other towns destroyed by the Kaiser’s shining amour’, we are, for example, informed early in September 1914. ‘Pictures’ and ‘word-pictures’ would, in this respect, importantly come to co-exist. As Clark noted, this visual language was also absent from the OED as it then existed, offering still further scope for his documetnary ventures in the war of words.

** See nerviness OED Online (revised Sept 2003),sense 2: ‘The quality or condition of being nervous.

1916:  Vera Brittain Let. 1 Sept. in Lett. Lost Generation (2012) 248.  “To have the face of a leader of men strong almost to unscrupulousness combined with an almost entire absence of self-esteem, and an excessive reserve & nervy-ness & shyness, is certainly an incongruity”.

Branded words: On not being German

Advertising, and the constructed nature of brand-names, was a topic to which Clark frequently returned in documenting ‘Words in War-Time’.  Even before war broke out, Clark had started to collect relevant examples, arguing that – for the linguistic and historian alike – these could be seen as a rich (and often neglected) resource of information about the embedding of language in culture and society. If the Oxford English Dictionary maintained a steadfast opposition to evidence of this kind (disallowing proper names as part of the legitimate territory of lexicography and the history of words), Clark again deliberately moved in a different direction. The notebooks gave him useful autonomy to explore language and meaning, and its responsiveness to on-going history, as he wished.

As previous posts have explored, the specific circumstances of war often rendered language a highly effective means by which patriotism or other issues of national allegiance could be claimed – or rejected. Consideration of form and, in particular, of word-forms which – rightly or wrongly – connoted German identity, could attract particular attention in this respect. The popular press, for example, repeatedly appropriated German patterns of spelling, placing German kultur against English culture in ways which intentionally rendered the former a by-word for savagery and barbarity. If kultur and culture derive from the same root, being, in reality, shared and cognate forms,** they could nevertheless be rendered antonyms in popular discourse — see e.g. the heading ‘More “Kultur”’, which in the Daily Express on 21 September 1914, accompanying an article (and an all too telling image) about the devastation of Rheims Cathedral.

The currency of other lexemes such as Teutonised – or non-Teutonic – both of which Clark records in his notebooks from September 1914 – easily reveals the identity politics at stake. Being Teutonised (a form still unrecorded in the OED) was, as another article in the Daily Express confirmed, seen as highly negative – suggesteing unwarranted alignment with the enemy in ways which are firmly delegitimised. Being, or being seen as, germanophile (here in another form which gained newly negative connotations — Clark records its use from September 11 1914) was, in similar ways, by no means seen as desirable.

An extensive anti-German lexis could, in such ways, became another aspect of the war of words. Notions of being pro-German, or Hun-like (both of which Clark also documents from September 1914) would all be used to mobilise highly negative feeling. The Hunite – recorded in the Daily Express on 19th September (and absent, then and now, from the Oxford English Dictionary) –  emerges, for example, as a highly effective way of labelling, and stigmatizing, the presence of unwarranted German sympathies, not least as indicated by a less than whole-hearted supported for the war effort or, still worse, by qualms about war per se. ‘Chiding the Hunites’, the heading of the article states. As the OED records, the suffix –ite was far from neutral: forms in which –ite appear, it states, ‘have a tendency to be depreciatory, being mostly given by opponents, and seldom acknowledged by those to whom they are applied’. To use language reflective of what the Express termed ‘odious Germanic taint’ could be seen as highly problematic – prompting, as we have seen, a range of acts of renaming and redefinition.

One of Clark’s particularly interesting examples in this context was the advertising campaign taken out in the autumn of 1914 by Krieger, the brand name of what was given as ‘the electric carriage syndicate’. Here, as the company realised, form and meaning could intersect in newly problematic ways. Krieger was, in some ways, ahead of its time – its electric vehicles offer early prototypes of a technology being explored and extended today. Clark noted the collocation electric carriage (also absent from the OED) as a combination of marked interest; if ‘carriages’ looked back to the past, ‘electric’ offered a new sense of modernity (as well as extending early designations of the car as ‘horseless carriage’). Nevertheless, as war began, the suspicion that, for Krieger, its name (and hence its products)—might also be seen as overly ‘Teutonised’ (and, indeed, ‘Germanophile’) was a source of self-evident concern. Krieg, as the German word for ‘war’, seemed less than ideal as a defining element in the name by which the product was popularly known, not least given the prevalence of similar Germanic forms – such as kriegspiel or kriegsmetall — in other contemporary (and highly negative) news accounts.

For Krieger, a range of advertisements therefore swiftly appeared, proclaiming British national identity and unimpeachable patriotic credentials.

‘The above company has been, from its formation in April 1903, a British Company’,

as readers were, for example, reminded. More to the point, perception of its association with German krieg is depicted as misguided in the extreme. Visual similarity was, it stressed, a false friend indeed; only in error, we are informed, could the brand names be read as krieg plus er, with its disturbing associations of militarism and aggression. Form — in both speech and writing – is strategically repositioned, while recent history clearly demanded a set of history lessons of its own. In the advertising which appears in autumn 1914, the name loses its hard Germanic /g/ and gains a small but suggestive é acute.

Etymology, in turn, is made to validate not the all too negative German krieg but instead an identity in French by which Krieger derives not form Krieg plus er, but from a ‘Monsieur Kriéger’, a Frenchman, resident in Paris, where

‘the original Kriéger Company was formed, and from whom the London Krieger company purchased its patents’.

Form was renegotiated once more – Kriéger, once French, had become British by losing its distinctive é, as well as gaining a different pronunciation. Commercial and linguistic assimilation had worked together. With the advent of war, the accent was, however, to be put on success in quite literal ways. Advertising campaigns carefully stress the allegiance which the small but significant é confirms. Krieger was carefully distanced while Kriéger could, as potential purchasers were reassured, be bought without qualms. French diacritics could get a new lease of life in English. Language, yet again, could be used with tactical intent — here, in what one might nevertheless see, as a strategic exercise in damange limitation.***


**Culture derives, as OED confirms, from Latin cultūra, and was borrowed into English via Anglo-Norman and Middle French after the Normal Conquest. Originally used to refer to literal cultivation of the land, German ideas of culture (signifying the ideas, customs, etc. of a society or group) became prominent in English after the eighteenth century. See culture (n.), OED Online.

*** Modern parallels can be found in the suddenly negative connotations of ‘Isis’ as a company name, as reported in the press in November 2014. This, too, can prompt issues of identity and subsequent rebranding.

The comforts of war

Comfort, as Clark noted, was a term which moved into marked prominence in the autumn of 1914. The word had, of course, long existed, being borrowed — here in other manifestations of war, language, and their intersection — from Old French confort after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The native equivalents (frefran, to comfort; frofre, comfort), used throughout Old English, had gradually been displaced. War, just as in later years, could bring both loss and gain when seen in terms of language.

Comfort in WWI assumed however, distinctive new meanings. Its long-standing existence as abstract noun – variously signifying, as the Oxford English Dictionary confirms, aid, consolation, solace as well as relief (especially in periods of want or distress) — could, as a range of articles in September and October 1914 confirm, acquire a strikingly materiality. Comfort can be manufactured and despatched, consumed and worn. A letter in the Scotsman on Thursday 11th September 1914 drew attention, for example, to the changing use of this term:

“Your readers may have observed that the formal sanction of the Admiralty has now been given to the supply of “comforts” for the men of the fleet’.

Here, the framing quotation marks set the new form apart, registering the departures which comforts of this kind present. Home comforts existed, by definition, within the intimacy, warmth, and protection of the domestic space. In this light, those serving in the Admiralty or at the Front were, of necessity, comfortless, rendered remote from consolations of this kind. The warmth of home was displaced by far more testing physical conditions. Comforts (usually appearing the plural) were, as a result, often seen in a tangible and physical form; they are items which will bring comfort, allaying the physical deprivations of war. Early uses in Clark’s notebooks focus in particualr on the sense of warmth, stressing comfort as a commodity that can be manufactured at home, before being despatched to those in need.

The letter in the Scotsman, for instance, carefully specifies the forms which comforts in a time of war might best take: ‘the articles which at the moment will be most use to officers and men in ships afloat are cardigan jackets, 44 inches chest; jerseys full size; Balaclava helmets, mufflers 2 yards long, 10 inches wide, fingerless gloves, mittens’. Such comforts will, quite literally, warm the recipient. Doing one’s bit in a time of war would, by extension, assume interestingly gendered forms, as a further article in the Daily Express makes plain:

‘The admiralty authorities have issued a list of knitted articles that are specially required by the sailors during the cold weather, and there is no doubt that wives and mothers will be only too glad to set to work to provide these necessary comforts’ (Daily Express, 21 Sept 1914).

Here, the inverted commas of comforts have disappeared. The word is assumed to be familiarised, together with the actions it required. Against sailors and the ‘men of the fleet’ who work for the national cause, the article evokes a set of home-workers, engaged in working parties, where dedicated industry and application of British women must also play their part. Knitting recipes, it declared, were clearly ‘invaluable at the moment’; Clark noted down this new compound (still not in OED), noting too the diction of the home-worker (as well as cardigan jackets – both of which offered other absences within the OED as it then existed).**

The war effort, as here, could clearly take many forms. Across Europe, a shared image of female endeavour would be a subject of comment, as well as patriotic endeavour. ‘Every female in Germany between twelve and eight is busy knitting– in the streets, in omnibuses, in doctors’ waiting-rooms, in tea-rooms, everywhere. They knit bandages, wristlets, and the like, for all the soldiers in the field’, as the Daily Express had commented on Fri 11 Sept 1914.  The need for comfort crossed national boundaries, and political divisions. Wristlet, as Clark observed, was another unfamiliar word, as well as another novel form in which comfort might be manifest. Lumbago belts and body belts presented other forms unrecorded in the Oxford English Dictionary. The image of a surprisingly home-spun army – on both sides — can be pervasive.

So too can a sense of the pressures, and moral obligation, placed on those at home at contribute in this way. ‘The Government intends to have every soldier provided with a belt to ward off those chills which cause so many deadly ailments on a battlefield’, an article in the Scotsman on 28th October 1914 declared: ‘it behoves every person to do their utmost to provide these comforts with as little delay as possible, and so assist these brave men to maintain their health, and enable them to withstand the rigours of the coming winter campaign’. If those at the Front fight the literal enemy, those at home were to aid in combatting cold as another enemy that might bring defeat as well as death. Endeavour is made reciprocal,

Here, too, expectations of a lengthy campaign – and a coming war winter – are plain. War is made a collective enterprise in which anyone and everyone should contribute. Comforts meanwhile, as later posts will explore, would expand to include a wide and increasingly diverse range of commodities.***

**Home-worker (defined as ‘A person who works at home, esp. as distinguished from one working in a factory or office’) would eventually be recorded in the OED, in a separate entry, in September 2011. Evidence would be traced back to 1843, though the entry is silent on uses between 1902 and 1973. The distinctive senses of WWI, with their commitment to voluntary industry in a shared war effort, arguably also remain absent in this definition. Cardigan jacket still remains absent.

**** Lumbago belts (still not in OED) clearly required more ingenuity in their construction. The article recommends use of  ‘a work undershirt or a set of men’s pants, the sleeves or legs of which, as the case may be, are worn round the waist, and fixed with webstraps or buckles’ such that ‘the main part of the garment’ is ‘allowed to hang down the back like an apron’, in order to protect against the cold of war.