Close to midnight on February 27, 1916, Robert finally falls asleep. At 4 a.m. the next morning, the Germans set off a string of land mines in Ypres. The trenches around Robert’s dugout are blown up, and he takes shelter under his bunk with Rodwell’s animals. In a battle that stretches out over five days, 30,000 men are killed, yet no ground is won.
The sudden shock of this attack is a disorienting contrast to the lighthearted evening the soldiers had just hours before. The fact that 30,000 men are killed, with nothing to show for it, shows the grueling hopelessness of the men’s duties as soldiers. It also proves Levitt’s previous observations about the absurdity of modern warfare to be correct.