From Chapter 11: Sassoon in the tunnel a German underground trench
He made his way to his Company headquarters. It was in the Tunnel:-
There were fifty steps down the shaft; the earthy smell of that triumph of Teutonic military engineering was strongly suggestive of appearing in the Roll of Honour and being buried until the Day of Judgement. “Dry-mouthed and chilled to the bone, I lay in a wire-netting bunk and listened to the dismal snorings of my companions. Along the Tunnel the air blew deathly cold and seasoned with mephitic odours.”
By ten a.m. Siegfried was on duty again, in charge of a fatigue party, carrying boxes of trench mortars. They were heavy, and it was very muddy. Siegfried was sorry for his men and carried some of the boxes himself “I can believe that my party, staggering and floundering under its loads, would have made an impressive picture of 'Despair'.”
It was when he returned from this job that the surprise awaited him. He was detailed to lead a bombing party along the tunnel to support an attack by the Cameronians. (The Cameron Highlanders a famous Scottish regiment.) Sassoon was being put upon - or at least his reputation had gone before him. He made his way along the tunnel to his own Battalion Headquarters. There came the incident that he was never to forget
“Prying my way along with an electric torch, I glimpsed an assortment of vague shapes, boxes, tins, - fragments of broken furniture and frowsy mattresses. It seemed a long way to Headquarters, and the Tunnel was memorable but not fortifying to a fatigued explorer who hadn't slept for more than an hour at a stretch or taken his clothes off since last Tuesday, Once, when I tripped and recovered myself by grabbing the wall, my tentative patch of brightness revealed somebody half hidden under a blanket, not a very clever spot to be taking a nap, I thought as I stooped to shake him by the shoulder. He refused to wake up, so I gave him a kick, "God blast you, where's Battalion Headquarters?" My nerves were on edge; and what right had he to be having a good sleep, when I never seemed to get five minutes' rest? … Then my beam settled on the livid face of a dead German whose fingers still clutched the blackened gash on his neck ... Stumbling on, I could only mutter to myself that this was really a bit too thick.”
Zero hour was 3 a.m.; but at least the order to attack along the tunnel had been cancelled, Siegfried had merely to penetrate beyond the Cameronians and bomb the Germans out of their trench....
He spent most of the intervening time reminiscing with a brother officer who also knew the Kentish Weald.
From Poet into War: A life of Siegfried Sassoon