I woke to the harsh wail of the sirens. I rolled over and swallowed a vile mouthful of muddy liquid. Bombs echoed deafeningly through the cold morning dawn, battered shells zooming overhead. I struggled to my feet, coughing as I forced air through my corrupted lungs. I walked slowly to the front line, savouring what I what might be last hour of my life. Stretcher-bearers flashed past, men roughly flung on blood-stained canvass lengths between them, broken bodies lying limp from the ravages of war. The thought that I would join them, was unbearable.

I was nearing the trench, when, through the melee, I realised it had taken a direct hit from a shell, the trench’s walls had virtually melted, its occupants were hardly distinguishable as their bodies, or rather what was left, lay bloodied and broken. A few were still alive, their groans puncturing the deathly silence like a knife. How they must have wished for a quick death rather than endure such cruel pain, as they waited for their bodies to give up the fight for life. Suddenly three single gunshots awoke me from my thoughts, the groans stopped and the once writhing bodies now lay still. We all turned to face the captain, his face set with a grim determination to hide the sadness beneath, and his gun still smoking.

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