now lost all touch with life and was part of the wastage
of the war. He and Kendle had cancelled one another
out in the process called "attrition of man-power".
Further along I found one of our men dying slowly
with a hole in his forehead. His eyes were open and
he breathed with a horrible snoring sound. Close by
him knelt two of his former mates; one of them was
hacking at the ground with an entrenching tool while
the other scooped the earth out of the trench with his
hands. They weren't worrying about souvenirs now.
Disregarding a written order from Barton, telling
me to return, I remained up in Quadrangle Trench
all the morning. The enemy made a few attempts to
bomb their way up the sap from the Wood and in that
restricted area I continued to expend energy which
was a result of strained nerves. I mention this because,
as the day went on, I definitely wanted to kill some-
one at close quarters. If this meant that I was really
becoming a good "fighting man", I can only suggest
that, as a human being, I was both exhausted and ex-
asperated. My courage was of the cock-fighting kind.
Cock-fighting is illegal in England, but in July, 1916
the man who could boast that he'd killed a German in
the Battle of the Somme would have been patted on
the back by a bishop in a hospital ward.
German stick-bombs were easy to avoid; they took
eight seconds to explode, and the throwers didn't hang
on to them many seconds after pulling the string.
Anyhow, my feverish performances were concluded
by a peremptory message from Battalion H.Q. and
I went down to Bottom Wood by a half-dug com-
munication trench whose existence I have only this
moment remembered (which shows how difficult it is
to recover the details of war experience).
It was nearly two o'clock, and the daylight was