War is hell. I cannot stress this strongly enough. Every day more men die, friends and acquaintances of mine, fathers and sons of weeping family back home. The stench is horrible and inescapable. We're constantly under threat of snipers, so to raise one's head a few inches too high is to tempt fate.
There are no plants here, and the only animals remaining are the rats, who get into everything from our stores of rotten food to our clothes as we sleep. All beautiful nature has been obliterated by the shelling. We're surrounded by dirt turned into a soup of mud by the rain and blood from the hills of corpses between us and the enemy.
What an interesting concept. The enemy, we call them. But in reality they're no different from us. They suffer the same conditions as we. They too long for a dry pair of socks and a warm meal. We share more in common with the men we're to kill than those who've sent us here. And we know they feel the same.
Damnation upon those who would will a war between men. Where sons, brothers, and fathers leave their beloved to be blown to pieces and, when lucky, sewn back together to live a hollow, inhumane life in the company of those who'll never understand their suffering.
I don't dream anymore. I used to have nightmares of being eaten alive by rats, but I've made my peace with them. The vermin are almost admirable, really, in their endurance. Nothing phases them, whatsoever. When the waters rise, they swim. When the shells fall, they dig. They'll wait patiently for days until a crumb of food escapes our tins, and snatch it with remarkable precision and speed.
I know not for what they endure. But I shall follow their hideous example and survive. I shall return home, I pray, alive and with my humanity intact. A hope that seems all too far away when faced with this madness that is my duty.
Corporal Edward Lancaster, 102nd Imperial Infantry Regiment
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