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Owing to the scarcity of water (which had to be
brought up by the Transport who were eight miles
back, at Blairville) washing wasn't possible; but I con-
trived a refreshing shave, utilizing the dregs of my tea.
By ten o'clock I was above ground again, in charge
of a fatigue party. We went half-way back to St.
Martin, to an ammunition dump, whence we carried
up boxes of trench mortar bombs. I carried a box
myself, as the conditions were vile and it seemed the
only method of convincing the men that it had to be
done. We were out nearly seven hours; it rained all
day and the trenches were a morass of glue-like mud.
The unmitigated misery of that carrying party was a
typical infantry experience of discomfort without
actual danger. Even if the ground had been dry the
boxes would have been too heavy for most of the men;
but we were lucky in one way; the wet weather was
causing the artillery to spend an inactive Sunday. It
was a yellow corpse-like day, more like November
than April, and the landscape was desolate and tree-
less. What we were doing was quite unexceptional;
millions of soldiers endured the same sort of thing and
got badly shelled into the bargain. Nevertheless I can
believe that my party, staggering and floundering
under its loads, would have made an impressive
picture of "Despair". The background, too, was ap-
propriate. We were among the debris of the intense
bombardment often days before, for we were passing
along and across the Hindenburg Outpost Trench,
with its belt of wire (fifty yards deep in places;) here
and there these rusty jungles had been flattened by
tanks. The Outpost Trench was about 200 yards from
the Main Trench, which was now our front line. It
had been solidly made, ten feet deep, with timbered
fire-steps, splayed sides, and timbered steps at inter-