More on cold conditions...:

On the 4 Feb. 1917, Owen wrote home:

I have no mind to describe all the horrors of this last Tour. But it was almost [worse] than the first, because in this place my Platoon had no Dug-Outs, but had to lie in the snow under the deadly wind. By day it was impossible to stand up or even crawl about because we were behind only a little ridge screening us from the Bosches' periscope.

We had 5 Tommy's cookers between the platoon, but they did not serve to melt the ice in the water-cans. So we suffered cruelly from thirst.

The marvel is that we did not all die of cold. As a matter of fact, only one of my party actually froze to death before he could be got back, but I am not able to tell how many have landed in hospital.

… My feet ached until they could ache no more, and so they temporarily died … The intensity of your Love reached me and kept me living. I thought of you and Mary [his sister] without a break all the time. I cannot say I felt any fear. We were all half-crazed by the buffeting of the High Explosives. I think the most unpleasant reflection that weighed on me was the impossibility of getting back any wounded, a total impossibility all day and frightfully difficult by night.


I suppose I can endure cold, and fatigue, and the face-to-face death, as well as another; but extra for me there is the universal pervasion of Ugliness. Hideous landscapes, vile noises, foul language and nothing but foul, even from one's own mouth (for all are devil ridden), everything unnatural, broken, blasted; the distortion of the dead, whose unburiable bodies sit outside the dug-outs all day, all night, the most execrable sights on earth. In poetry we call them the most glorious. But to sit with them all day, all night … and a week later to come back and find them still sitting there, in motionless groups, THAT is what saps the ‘soldierly spirit.’