Henry and the drivers, now on foot, come to a railway bridge. Henry spots Germans going across the bridge and wonders why his own army did not blow the bridge up during the retreat.
The Italian Army, for which Henry has just killed a man, is totally incompetent. Henry did his duty for an army that is not fulfilling its own duties.
To avoid the Germans, the drivers sneak down the river embankment beneath bridge and are fired upon. Aymo is shot through the neck and killed. Henry realizes that the frightened Italian rear guard, not the Germans, are the ones shooting at them. He and his men scramble for a place to hide.
Now, through its incompetence, the Italian army goes from being an unhelpful ally to a dangerous enemy. The Army for which Henry has sacrificed so much is now trying to kill him.
The remaining drivers find an abandoned farmhouse in which to eat a meal. As Henry sets up camp in the barn, Bonello and Piani search for food. Piani soon returns, alone, and reports that Bonello ran off, hoping to be made a prisoner of the enemy rather than being shot at by his own army.
Another condemnation of the Italian Army: Bonello would rather be captured by the enemy than risk the chance of being shot by his own skittish and incompetent side.
That night, Henry and Piani rejoin the main Italian retreat heading south. Eventually they arrive at a bridge, where Italian military police are detaining and questioning officers about their "treachery," which is blamed for the Italian defeat.
The military police place unfair blame on officers like Henry in order to protect the "honor" of the army. In reality, the Army's incompetence is to blame.
Henry is himself seized by two military policemen. He then watches as a dignified lieutenant-colonel is questioned, pointlessly, about the retreat. The lieutenant-colonel asks to be shot rather than be subjected to stupid questions. He is executed. During the commotion surrounding the execution, Henry runs for the river. He hears shots as he dives in, but the current quickly carries him away.
Although Henry earlier shot a man for cowardice, he despises the systematic execution of innocent officers. As the Italian Army turns on him, he refuses to adopt its corrupt ideals and instead acts to save himself, throwing away all vestiges of duty and loyalty.