Wartime Humor, 1918

[The following are representative jokes and humorous poems as they appeared
in issues of The Independent in 1918.—JFM]

[The Independent, February 2, 1918]

John—I hear you enlisted.
Henry—Yes. Joined the National Army of American Jewelers.
John—What on earth is that?
Henry—They're the boys who are going across the ocean to put a new set of works in the Watch on the Rhine

[The Independent, February 9, 19188]


The darned old Hoover pledge has come to our house to stay;
To frown our breakfast bacon down, and take our steak away;
It cans our morning waffles, and our sausages, too, it seems,
And dilates the succulence of corn, and spuds, and beans.
So skimp the sugar in your cake and leave the butter out,
Or Hoover's goin' to get you if you

Oh, gone are the good old days of hot cakes thickly spread;
And meatless, wheatless, hopeless days are reigning in their stead;
And gone the days of fat rib roasts, and two-inch T-bone steaks,
And donuts plump and golden brown, the kind that mother makes.
And when it comes to pie and cake, just learn to cut it out,
Or Hoover's goin' to get you if you

So spread your buckwheats sparingly and peel your taters thin;
And tighten up your belt a notch and don't forget to grin.
And if, sometimes, your whole soul years for shortcake high and wide,
And biscuits drenched with honey, and chicken butter fried,
Remember then that Kaiser Bill is short on sauer kraut,
Or Hoover's goin' to get him if we
—Laramie Republican.

[The Independent, March 16, 1918]

"And now, children, we come to that important country, Germany, that is governed by a man called a Kaiser," said the teacher. "Can any one tell me what a Kaiser is? Yes, Willie!"
"Please, ma'am, a Kaiser is a stream of hot water springin' up in the air and disturbin' the earth."—Life.

[The Independent, May 4, 1918]

The infant Bolshevik Government is a precocious child. Inside of two months it began to crawl.—Brooklyn Eagle.

[The Independent, June 4, 1918]

"How dare you insult the Kaiser's six sons!" exclaimed the Hun.
"I didn't insult them," replied Fritz.
"You did." You said they took after their father."—Exchange.

[The Independent,  July 13, 1918]

My idea of a far-sighted man is the soldier who wrote to the book
committee and asked for a guide to the city of Berlin.—New York Morning Telegraph.

They were questioning the suburbanite from the trenches.
"And weren't you terrified that night among the barbed wire entanglements?"
"No," he replied. "I have come home late when the wife has left the croquet set out on the lawn."—London Opinion.

[The Independent, July 20, 1918]

Officer (while examining applicant for Fort Snelling)—Got any scars on you?
"No, but I got some cigarets over there in my coat."—Awgwan.

[The Independent, July 27, 1918]

The shortage of wool in Germany is fast approaching the stage when the
Kaiser will no longer be able to pull it over the people's eyes.—New York World.

Kaiser Wilhelm has accepted the crowns of Livonia, Esthonia, Lithuania and Courland. Also the
half-crowns, florins, pfennigs, centimes and copecks, in all probability.—Pittsburgh Post.

"That new recruit must have been a bookkeeper."
"Why so?"
"I just noticed him trying to put his bayonet behind his ear."

[The Independent, August 3, 1918]

It must be very difficult to be a German cartoonist and not be allowed to
call attention to the fact that the Crown Prince looks exactly like a dachshund.—Cleveland Plain Dealer.

[The Independent, August 24, 1918]

The new Hun helmet is specially designed to protect the neck.
How wise! That is just where Germany is going to get it.—London Opinion.

Dear Ireland—When the house is on fire it's no time for family quarrels.
It's no time to sulk and tolerate plots with the enemy at your doors.
Forget your ill-timed Home Rule agitation; do your bit toward canning the Kaiser.
If the Huns win you'll have no home to rule! Sincerely yours, Veritas.—Life.

Tommy (who has been wounded for the fourth time)—
I know what it means, mate, them Huns don't want me at this war!—London Opinion.

"Right will always prevail," says the Kaiser.
So, he's getting despondent, is he?—Nashville Southern Lumberman.

[The Independent, September 7, 1918]

It is quite true that the German retreat was "according to plan."
Only the plans were Foch's.—London Opinion.

"More than 186,000 negro troops are already enrolled in the American army,
and 900,000 more are available. Another back outlook for Germany.—London Opinion.

Hairdressing classes for disable soldiers are to be started at Brighton.
The lad should not need much instruction, however,
having already given so many Herrs a dressing.—London Opinion.

According to Count Hertling, "Belgium is merely a pawn for future negotiations."
Have the Pan-Germans become Pawn Germans, then?—The Passing Show.

[The Independent, September 28, 1918]

It was certainly an inspired typographical error which made one of the stories
from the front refer to the "Clown Prince."—Nashville Southern Lumberman.

We may not be fighting the German people, but they have a curious way
of getting between us and the Hohenzollerns—Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

How doth the busy little Hun
Improve the shining hour?—
By proving all things justified
In him who has the power.

How doth his U-boat chivalry
Improve the pleasant morning?—
By sinking neutral merchantmen
Without a word of warning.

How doth his knightly High Command
Uphold the law of nations?—
By poison gas, and rape and loot,
And foul abominations.

And what shall open Hunnish eyes
To see the price of sin?—
Two million Yankee soldier lads
All waiting to begin.
—Cassell's Saturday Journal

[The Independent, October 12, 1918]

A Welsh soldier wrote at the head of a letter to his mother, "Braich yn dagran,"
and the censor, believing this to be a Welsh motto, something like
"God bless our home," allowed it to pass. To the soldier's mother it read,
"Arm in tears" and she knew that her son was somewhere near Armentières.—Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph.

[The Independent, October 19, 1918]

Kaiser—Our future, my dear boy, lies in the east!
Crown Prince—Well, father, from what I've seen of the west, I think you may be right.—London Punch.

[The Independent, October 26, 1918]

Fritz's two biggest war-surprizes: The Tanks and the Yanks.—London Passing Show

"He's a remarkable man."
"In what way?"
"He admits that the people running the war know more about it than he does.—Le Rire, Paris.

[The Independent, November 9, 1918]

The Russian revolution would be all right if it could stop revolving—Brooklyn Eagle.

Motto for the American "Doughboys": "Always ready when kneaded!"—London Passing Show.

Mahomet V may have been assassinated, but for a sultan that does not mean
that he did not die a natural death.—Springfield Republican.

There's nothing to equal the Yankee sense of humor, One of the boys
in the trenches, who has evidently been greatly troubled by cooties, says he knows now
why the pictures of Napoleon always show him with his hand inside his short.—Detroit Free Press.

[The Independent, December 14, 1918]

"Hand that bill to your boss, an' tell him ex-Corporal Brown,
commonly called "Fightin' Joe," wants to know why it ain't been paid."—Judge.

[The Independent, December 28, 1918]

The Boches ruefully call it "Muddle Europe" now.—Passing Parade.

The Sinn Feiner wrote on the wall: "God Save Ireland."
And the passing soldier suggested he should add "when the boys come home."—Passing Parade.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013

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