HOW MARY JANE’S GREAT UNCLE SAW HIS FIRST MATTRESS. I have been reading some of the articles about the beginning of the First World War which have been inspired by the 100th anniversary of the event. The Arts and Letter Daily blog led me to this article in the New Statesman by Simon Heffer about the historiography of the war. In it, Heffer says: “…the first volume of Correlli Barnett’s Pride and Fall tetralogy, The Collapse of British Power, although only in passing about the First World War, contained some telling insights about it – such as how many of the men who fought the war had, for the first time in their lives, proper food, clothes, boots and their own bed to sleep in.”

I remember what Mary Jane’s beloved Uncle Nick (our son Nick is named after him) told me about his experience in World War I. He had been brought up in a small village in Calabria and had fought in the Italian army. He said that he had never seen a mattress until he became a soldier.

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