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43rd Infantry Division by Howard F Brown

By Howard F Brown

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It is the stench from the carcases of some animals that lie buried in the mud. Great blue and green flies, their wings shot with gold, buzz around insistently. A party of Rumanian sappers are laying a mine preparatory to blowing up the bridge. The soldiers talk and laugh loudly among themselves. The muddy waters of Lake Bratesc diffuse a yellowish light which illuminates a countryside in agony, a torpid, impermanent, decaying countryside. The imminent war is perceived as a storm that is about to break, as something independent of man's will, almost as a fact of nature.

I have no idea what he is thinking and feeling at this moment. While we are talking the despatch-rider returns. ' says the sergeant. The prisoner gets to his feet, passes his hand over his shaven head, gazes with intense interest at the Panzerwagen and the lorries. Yes, now I understand. Nothing else matters to him now, all that interests him is the machine. He looks intently at the tracks, at the open turrets, at the anti-aircraft machine-guns mounted on the backs of the lorries, at the light anti-tank guns strung out behind them.

It had crossed Attica, Boeotia, Thessaly, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Rumania. From the Doric colonnade of the Parthenon to the steel colonnade of the Pyatlyetka. The soldiers rode in open lorries, sitting on benches with their backs to the driver. Their faces were white with dust. Each lorry had a likeness of the Parthenon painted in white lead on its bonnet - a childish representation of Doric columns portrayed in white varnish on the dark-grey metal. Instinctively one knew that beneath the mask of dust the soldiers' faces were scorched by the sun, pinched by the Greek wind.

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