JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
There's just a particular nothingness here, like a piece of bad-earth life raft in an ocean of blown up mud, a general nastiness of ground, junk the land littered with sharp remnants of exploded trees, and these soldiers are in the middle of it in a scene extending to the horizon.
There were lots of smells in WWI, though most of the time the idea of it all is hard to convey. Not ere, though, because this is an olfactory image, a photograph of smell as much as anything else.
This ground reminds me of the mud I saw in Guguletu Township near Capetown--squalid, lifeless, smelling of some petroleum-something, unexpectedly unknown, unique.
I don't have a source for this photo, I'm sorry to say, though it is a scene of British soldiers. It could be the aftermath of a battle, or an advance over a previously-contested. I can't say which.
The soldiers in the foreground are probably in a bomb crater, and those in the near-background might might be in a trench, though that is uncertain. Outside of the orderliness of the soldiers, there's really nothing else but a chaos broken into little pieces.
There's also the grime of it all. In the detail--where we see a soldier grabbing a quick nap--we can see a rifle with a lot of damage to its stock, and another just beyond, with a cloth wrapped around the firing mechanism, an attempt to keep the rifle operational.
In the larger photo above you can see others attempting to keep their weapons clean and functioning--a trying and necessary undertaking in these circumstances.
Nobody is looking at the camera.