From Poperinghe in May 1918 to London on sick leave, Derek Vane ponders the meaning of the War.
have swept the ground. But the night was silent, the flares still went peacefully up, and the wind had not changed. It blew gently and steadily towards the German lines. Only there was now just a faint smell of pineapple in the air; one of the cylinders was leaking. . . .
Figures loomed up unexpectedly out of the mist; occasionally a low curse could be heard as a man stumbled into a shell hole. . . .
"Everything all right; everybody clear?" The gas expert peered at Vane in the darkness. "Right! well, let her go."
A series of reports sounded deafeningly loud, as the detonators of the cylinders were fired by electricity; a steady, hissing noise as a great wall of white vapour mingled with the mist and rolled forward towards the Germans. The gas attack had begun. To an airman returning from a bombing raid, who circled for a moment above, it looked like a sheet being slowly spread over the country below; a beautiful--an eerie--picture. To those on the ground who watched it, it seemed as a so