A Voice from World War One: A Very Dull Day

Very Dull Day: A Poem by WWI Soldier George Erie Black

George Erie Black (2nd from left) and friends, circa 1918, WWI

A Very Dull Day, a Voice from World War One…

One hundred years ago, George Erie Black, was one of many brave Americans involved in the war that was thought would end all wars.  Black was inducted into service on February 23, 1918.  He shipped off to France on June 15, 1918 on U.S.S. Susquehanna and landed in France on June 22, 1918 to become part of the AEF in World War I.

American Expeditionary Forces

The AEF or American Expeditionary Forces was a formation of the United States Army on the Western Front of World War I.  The AEF was established on July 5, 1917, in France under the command of Gen. John J. Pershing. The AEF fought alongside the armies of France, Britain, Canada and Australia against the German Empire. . A small faction of the AEF troops also fought with the Italian Army against the Austro-Hungarian Army.

 The AEF was considered crucial to the French Army on the Western Front during the Aisne Offensive in the summer of 1918 with its major actions involving the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in the latter part of 1918.

A Rare Glimpse

In a rare glimpse of the life of a soldier in the AEF in World War I, the family of George Erie Black graciously allowed The Founding Project to publish this poem, written by Private 1st Class George E. Black.  Black sent this poem to his sister, Mary Black Huey, while he was stationed in France during WWI.

Very Dull Day

What to write, just what to say?
To tell the folks what’s new today.
Censorship often blocks the way,
To what’s in our hearts. The answers lay…

The ruins of cities, the bestial war,
The gaping children, weak and sore,
There’s all of this and even more.
But for the lack of things to say, I’ll write,

“Nothing new – Very dull day”.

George Erie Black (right) and friend, embarking to France during WWII (Photo courtesy of relatives of Black)

Would they understand of each man’s toil?

Of seething emotions brought to a boil

Of American blood redding the soil?

Can’t really think of what to say,

So it’s “Nothing new – Very dull day”.

Could I properly tell of the grime and the dirt?
Of bodies that sag, yet with minds alert.
And of my Soul, where I’m mortally hurt?
There’s all of this and more to say.
But it’s “Nothing new – Very dull day”.

Shall I tell of the shells that just missed my head?
Of my comrade’s shirt, now sticky and red;
Of the ghostlike melody of singing lead?
In spite of this, I’ll act gay,
And it’s “Nothing new – Very dull day”.

Should I write of the corpses on battle’s lawn?

And of the stillness of the stillborn dawn;

And of the rotten stench when the cold is gone?

No! The proper thing to say

Is “Nothing new – Very dull day”.

Back home they shant know-
Perhaps they may,
Of the fantastic price we’ve had to pay.
It’s between the lines when we say,
“There’ s nothing new – Very dull day”.
by George Erie Black

George Erie Black WWII Enlistment Record
Black Honored for Service by President Jimmy Carter
Record of Faithful Service of George Erie Black, WWII
George Erie Black (2nd from left) and friends, WWII 1918

 

WWII: Transport Ship for George Erie Black’s transport from US to France

Honorable Discharge

George E. Black returned to his wife and family in the United States on June 9, 1919 and was honorably discharged from military service on June 26, 1919.

Editor’s Note:

Special thanks to Aaron Hayes-Harden, Sabrina Hayes and the family of George E. Black for allowing The Founding Project to publish this glimpse into U.S. and world history with their family’s cherished photos and memories of their ancestor.

https://www.loc.gov/collections/stars-and-stripes/articles-and-essays/a-world-at-war/american-expeditionary-forces/    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Expeditionary_Forces

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