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Stalingrad Briefing, 1943

The patrols are told to eat snow as they go. 
If they do this, the enemy marksmen cannot see 
the give-away plume of their breath. Smoke 

closes over the Volga, awash with bodies entwined 
with detritus, riding the dead river, bumping up 
against its broken shores. Even colour has been 

bombed and shot away; everything has taken on 
greyness. The men are grey, their rations are 
grey. The light is black and white. The only true 

colour left is red. Explosions, blood, a bit 
of ribbon. Replacements are told only to carry 
their rifles at the ready and step in the footprints 

of the men before them. Don't bunch up. Expect 
worse than you can imagine. Do not speak. 
Stay low and in shadow. Eat snow as you go.

Ian McBryde

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