On the night of June 16, the road to Bailleul is crowded with troops. It is now clear that the Germans intend to completely raze the area. The British army has sent their entire reserve of troops, and the shellfire causes mass panic. Drums of gasoline spill out and cause the fire to spread through the town where men, horses, and equipment all go up in flames.
This violent, chaotic scene mirrors the inner turmoil that the Ross family is experiencing at the news that Robert is missing in action. Like Robert and Mrs. Ross’s similar experiences with battling the natural elements, this parallel suggests that both soldiers and civilians experience their own personal wars.