The night sky over no-man's land. Rats and lice as bedfellows. Here, soldiers write about life in the trenches.
If you're nearly frozen, they keep quiet: as soon as you warm up those blasted lice start to bite like the devil. It's horrible. I often think it is one of the worst things we have to endure out here.
Getting along a trench is not as easy as you think. For one thing it is not straight for more than four yards (it is 'traversed' to prevent crossfire and shell fire having much effect). Then there are all sorts of odd off-turns, to officers' dugouts, or other lines of trenches: at other places there are steps down and other unknown steps up where a piece of parapet has been blown in, or some walls of a traverse have collapsed. In these mazes where we have fought each other so often and each side has held the ground in turn, you can never be quite sure whether a trench won't lead you straight to the German lines. In more than one place in our present line we actually do have communication trenches connecting our and their lines.
Imagine a vast semi-circle of lights: a cross between the lights of the Embankment and the lights of the Fleet far out at sea; only instead of fixed yellow lamps they are powerful white flares, sailing up every minute and burning for 20 or 30 seconds, and then fizzling out like a rocket - each one visible at ten miles distant, and each lighting up every man, tree and bush within half a mile. Besides these you will see the slim shaft of a searchlight swinging round and round among the stars, a hunting an invisible aeroplane; and every instant flashes in the sky like the opening of a furnace door and there is a clap of thunder from the unseen heavy guns. The whole makes a magnificent panorama on a clear night...
I'm a great believer in my star. If I were going to be killed I'd have been killed long ago. Walking about the trenches all day long hand-in-hand with death, you can't help become a fatalist.
There are millions!! Some are huge fellows, nearly as big as cats. Several of our men were awakened to find a rat snuggling down under the blanket alongside them!
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