Page:The War and the Future (Masefield, 1918).djvu/45

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The War and the Future

All the roads leading to the front were thronged by our army, battalion on battalion, division on division, guns and transport columns, camp kitchens, and artillery transport, going up in the mud after the enemy.

You could see them bringing the railway forward under fire, under heavy fire, along the Ancre Valley. They made the railway and the road side by side, with shells falling on them and the stink of gas blowing over them. And not a man died there, but died in exultation, knowing that over his death the army was passing to victory.

Today, as you know, the greatest battle of this war is being fought on that ground. And so far, as you know, our men have been hard pressed and driven back.

It is not easy to stand here, while there, over the sea, those men are standing in the mud, waiting for death to come to them.

It is no light thing to face death in a modern battle, to have been living in the mud, on scanty food, with no rest, in all the terror and filth, among the blood, the rags of flesh, the half buried bodies half eaten with rats, the crashing and screaming of shells, all the confusion of a stunt, and the cries for stretcher bearers. Only