Page:The War and the Future (Masefield, 1918).djvu/30

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
The War and the Future

he let loose a great green cloud of chlorine gas, which floated across the No Man's Land to our lines. Wherever this gas reached the lines it choked the men dead, by a death which is unspeakably terrible, even for this war.

The men watched the gas coming. They thought that it was a smoke-screen or barrage, designed to hide the advance of enemy infantry. Suddenly they found the green cloud upon them, and their comrades choking and retching their lives away in every kind of agony. For a while there was a panic. The men in the front lines were either killed or put out of action. The communication trenches were filled with choking and gasping men, flying from the terror and dropping as they fled. Night was falling. It was nearly dark, and the whole area was under an intense enemy shell-fire. The line was broken on a front of four and a half miles; and for the time it seemed as though the whole front would go.

The gas had come just at the point where the French and the English armies joined each other; at a point, that is, where all words of command had to be given in several languages, and where any confusion was certain to be intensified tenfold; there were many Colonial and