Paul Thun’s Feet

In Paul’s Diary we learned about how far he had to march and the effect this had on his feet. The relevant extract is included below:

‘… During the evening we reached a bigger town. We were not to get into our quarters but had to march up a hill to defend this, as the French were supposed to attack us. We could not see anybody. A lot of valuable resting time got lost because of wrong messages being delivered. It was quite dark when we reached the town. Everybody was angry having been up and down the hill to no purpose. My feet were quite sore for several days and now there were several infected blisters and marching became a torture. My feet felt like being on fire; we fell onto our straw and slept. Unfortunately we had to start early again the next morning at 5 o’clock. I went as quickly as possible to the ambulance to have my feet bandaged. But this beast of a chap from the ambulance told me I was a malingerer. With tears and anger I turned to a doctor. He told me to come back in the evening, shrugged his shoulders and said I should have sorted this out the evening before if it was such a problem.

Often I thought about shooting the two of them. Luckily both of them stayed a considerable distance away as we started to fight the enemy continuously. In any case I will never forget that the two wretches let me go on not bandaged up. One didn’t need much imagination to realise that it was rather difficult to get seen to the evening before.

That was the first damper of enthusiasm for war.

Well, we marched on! At first, always on tiptoe, and putting the heel right down. But as one could only walk about 10 km in this fashion I refrained from doing so any longer. But I could not stop. Sometimes we had to stop for a rest and I had great difficulties to get going again. All roads were filled with the German Army marching towards the French frontier. This splendid picture soon blew away my bad mood. On the horizon we could see planes being shot at by the enemy, a sign that we would get started very soon.’

We discussed this extract and then divided into groups to act out the scenario with Paul and the ambulance people, and with Paul and the doctor.