Page:The War and the Future (Masefield, 1918).djvu/87

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The War and the Future

things needed in the front line are heavy and awkward to carry, and all have to be carried up, on the shoulders of men. The image left on the minds of most men by this war is not an image of fighting, nor of men standing in the trenches, nor of attacks, nor even of the gunners at the guns; it is the image of little parties of men plodding along in single file through the mud, carrying up the things needed in the front trenches; barbed wire, trench gratings, trench pumps, machine guns, machine gun ammunition, bombs, Stokes shells, tins of bully beef and tins of water. And by the sides of the gratings which make the roads near the front you will see the graves of hundreds of men who have lost their lives in carrying up these things.

And when it rains, as it has rained for weeks together on the Western front during the last three years, that task of carrying becomes infinitely more terrible to the men than standing in the trenches to be killed or wounded. All that shot up field becomes a vast and waveless sea of mud. That mud has to be seen to be believed, it cannot be described. It is more dangerous than any quicksand. I have seen men and horses stuck in it, being pulled out with ropes. I have seen soldiers standing in