The story -- told in the first person by Peter Considine, a private -- of an English platoon, made up of veterans of African fighting, now stationed and holding their own in the Italian mountain sector, offers a picture of the war for infantrymen who depend on the artillery to destroy the enemy's guns before they themselves are destroyed. Here is the concentration on survival, the fraternity of the slit trench, the slow culmination of the fear of fear into the breaking point of the human system; here are the common and the individual experiences of the men whose fate is held by the incalculable Major Cadman, addicted to duty and the belief that flash doesn't matter a damn. There is Corry whose wound returns him to Rome where civilian comforts and behind the lines brass sicken him; Hadfield and Brent whose ability to keep the respect and obedience of their men is the means of their destruction; the silly mud and slush, the rigors of mountain warfare and the anger and despair against the high command. A big push is called for -- the platoon is assigned a suicidal mission --and with fortitude and ""forward and everything blazing"" is wiped out. The detachment here, the feeling of fraternity and the earthy bonds holding the men together, gives this a real impact.