It Was Not Mice
Generals and Generalship, General Sir Archibald Wavell, 1941
Yet the British soldier himself is one of the world's greatest humourists. That unglamourous race, the Germans, held an investigation after the late War into the causes of moral, and attributed much of the British soldier's staying power to his sense of humour. They therefore decided to instil this sense into their own soldiers, and included in their manuals an order to cultivate it. They gave as an illustration in the manual one of Bairnsfather's pictures of "Old Bill" sitting in a building with an enormous shell-hole in the wall. A new chum asks: "What made that hole?" "Mice," replies "Old Bill." In the German manual a solemn footnote of explanation is added: "It was not mice, it was a shell."