As we left the hospital we met three footsore soldiers whose boots were absolutely worn right through. They were coming up to the hospital to see if the Matron had any dead men’s boots that would fit them. It sounded rather gruesome—but she told us that that was quite a common errand. The Russian military boots are excellent, but, of course, all boots wear out very quickly under such trying circumstances of roads and weather. They are top boots, strong and waterproof, and very often made by the men themselves. The uniform, too, is very practical and so strong that the men have told me that carpets are made from the material. The colour is browner than our own khaki—and quite different both from the German, which is much greyer, and the Austrian, which is almost blue. I heard in Belgium that at the beginning of the war German soldiers were constantly mistaken for our men.
BY THE TRENCHES AT RADZIVILOW
The next morning we went up to Radzivilow. It is the next station to Skiernevice, and there was very heavy fighting going on there when we went up. We were told we were going up on an armoured train, which sounded very thrilling, but when we got to the station we only found a quite ordinary carriage put on to the engine to take us up. The Russian battery was at that time at the south of the railway line, the German battery on the north of it—and we were in the centre of the sandwich. At Zyradow these cannon sounded distant, but as we neared Radzivilow the guns were crashing away as they did at Lodz, and we prepared for a hot time. The station had been entirely wrecked and was simply in ruins, but the station-master’s house near by was still intact, and we had orders to rig up a temporary dressing-station there.
Before we had time to unpack our dressings, a messenger arrived to tell us that the Germans had succeeded in enfilading a Russian trench close by, and that they were bringing fifty very badly wounded men to us almost at once. We had just time to start the sterilizer when the little carts began to arrive with some terribly wounded men. The machine guns had simply swept the trench from end to end. The worst of it was that some lived for hours when death would have been a more merciful release. Thank God we had plenty of morphia with us and could thus ease their terrible sufferings. One man had practically his whole face blown off, another had all his clothes and the flesh of his back all torn away. Another poor old fellow was brought in with nine wounds in the abdomen. He looked quite a patriarch with a long flowing beard—quite the oldest man I have seen in the Russian army. Poor Ivan, he had only just been called up to the front and this was his first battle. He was beautifully dressed, and so clean; his wife had prepared everything for him with such loving care, a warm knitted vest, and a white linen shirt most beautifully embroidered with