flung myself through the doorway of a ruined stone hut -- to
find it already occupied by a grey-clad German paratrooper.
He was sitting on the floor, his left hand clasping a shattered
stump where his right arm had been severed just below the elbow.
Dark gore was grouting between his fingers and spreading in a
black pool about his outthrust legs. Most dreadful was a great
gash in his side from which protruded a glistening dark mass
that must have been his liver.
Above this wreckage, his eyes on mine were large and luminous.
When he spoke, the sound was barely louder than a whisper.
"Vasser ... Please giff ... vasser."
I had no water. My water bottle was full of issue rum, which I
knew would have been the death of him.
I shook my head and then I thought, "Oh, hell, he's going
anyway. What harm?" I held the water bottle to his lips and he
swallowed in spasmodic gulps until I took it from him and drank
So, the two of us got drunk together and, in a little
while, he died.
- writer Farley Mowat, recalling his service as an infantry
lieutenant with the Canadian Army in Italy during the Second
[qotd commemorates Remembrance Day. -eds.]
Submitted by: Terry Labach
Nov. 11, 2004