"On the wall, the text and the music of the National Anthem, the map of Europe. The blackboard is lying backside up on the teacher’s desk. Flung about in the bookcase are copybooks, textbooks, slate pencils, chalk. All mere trifles, yet pleasing, at least to me after having breathed abominations for hours. When I read in these elementary school books the plain words: earth, water, air, Hungary, adjective, noun, God - somehow I find again that balance without which I have been tossed about so long, like a contraband ship, her rudder lost, on unknown seas."
—Pál Kelemen, Hungarian cavalryman, age 20, having been billeted in an abandoned schoolhouse, March 18th, 1915
"What [Lobanov-Rostovsky] finds particularly frightening is to see how war, or perhaps more accurately, the generals, refuse to bow to the forces of nature: ‘The noise of the artillery preparation and the flares of the cannon, through the howling wind and the swirling snow, appeared more sinister than ever.’ The losses are unusually high, even by the standards of this war, because the majority of the wounded freeze to death wherever they happen to fall. And those wounded men who do survive the wind and the snow and the temperatures below freezing often suffer from severe frostbite. The hospitals are full of amputees."
—account of Andrei Lobanov-Rostovsky, Russian army engineer, age 22, March 3rd 1915
"The air is filled with crashing, howling and whizzing. Once [Arnaud] gets there he quickly becomes utterly focused on watching the Germans: ‘My concentration on what needed to be done freed me from fear.’ He stares intently at the slope that separates the French and German positions. Nothing.
Slowly the barrage eases and dies away.
The dust settles. Silence returns. Reports begin to come in. Two men have been killed in the section alongside them, five in the company to their right.
Gradually Arnaud manages to construct a picture of what had happened. Two bored sentries had taken it into their heads to shoot at a flight of migrating birds; as far as anyone could judge they were curlews on their way to their nesting grounds in Scandinavia. The shots had misled other sentries who, afraid there was some invisible danger, started shooting too. It took only a moment for this panic firing to run along the whole trench. The sudden shooting obviously led someone in the German trenches to fear an attack and whoever it was then brought their artillery into play.
They were able to read the official epilogue to this incident in a French army communiqué the next day. It read as follows: ‘At Bécourt, near Albert, a German attack was totally crushed by our fire.’ Arnaud’s own comment was: ‘That’s how history is written.’"
—account of René Arnaud, French infantryman, age 21, February 28th, 1915
"Lieutenant Simon begins to describe his experiences during the battle and to say how he came to be wounded. To his dismay Corday notices that the rest of the people round the table become preoccupied with other things and almost cease listening - the market in heroes and dramatic war stories is already inflationary. He is reminded of an officer who had both his legs amputated and who said, ‘Yes, at the moment I’m a hero but in a year’s time I’ll be just another cripple.’"
—account of Michel Corday, French civil servant, February 3rd, 1915
"When they left Flensburg the town was wrapped in a blanket of wet, new snow. The ritual was the usual one. Women from the Red Cross showered [Andresen] and the other soldiers with chocolate, cakes, nuts and cigars, as well as putting flowers in the muzzles of their rifles. He had accepted the gifts but said a determined ‘no’ to flowers in his gun: ‘I’m not ready for my funeral yet.’"
—account of Kresten Andresen, December 1914
30 Day Romanov Challenge Day 22 : Best Anecdote (about anyone)
Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna
“One day the little Grand Duchess Marie was looking out of the window at a regiment of soldiers marching past and exclaimed, “O! I love these dear soldiers; I should like to kiss them all!” I said, “Marie, nice little girls don’t kiss soldiers.” A few days afterwards we had a children’s party, and the Grand Duke Constantine’s children were amongst the guests. One of them, having reached twelve years of age, had been put into the Corps de Cadets, and came in his uniform. He wanted to kiss his little cousin Marie, but she put her hand over her mouth and drew back from the proffered embrace. “Go away, soldier,” said she, with great dignity. “I don’t kiss soldiers.” The boy was greatly delighted at being taken for a real soldier, and not a little amused at the same time.” Six Years at the Russian Court by Margaretta Eagar
Probably not the best though I always find it very cute.