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Chapter 3

IN trench warfare five things are important: firewood, food, tobacco, candles, and the enemy. In winter on the Zaragoza front they were important in that order, with the enemy a bad last. Except at night, when a surprise--attack was always conceivable, nobody bothered about the enemy. They were simply remote black insects whom one occasionally saw hopping to and fro. The real preoccupation of both armies was trying to keep warm.

I ought to say in passing that all the time I was in Spain I saw very little fighting. I was on the Aragon front from January to May, and between January and late March little or nothing happened on that front, except at Teruel. In March there was heavy fighting round Huesca, but I personally played only a minor part in it. Later, in June, there was the disastrous attack on Huesca in which several thousand men were killed in a single day, but I had been wounded and disabled before that happened. The things that one normally thinks of as the horrors of war seldom happened to me. No aeroplane ever dropped a bomb anywhere near me, I do not think a shell ever exploded within fifty yards of me, and I was only in hand-to-hand fighting once (once is once too often, I may say). Of course I was often under heavy machine-gun fire, but usually at longish. ranges. Even at Huesca you were generally safe enough if you took reasonable precautions.

Up here, in the hills round Zaragoza, it was simply the mingled boredom and discomfort of stationary warfare. A life as uneventful as a city clerk's, and almost as regular. Sentry-go, patrols, digging; digging, patrols, sentry-go. On every hill-top. Fascist or Loyalist, a knot of ragged, dirty men shivering round their flag and trying to keep warm. And all day and night the meaningless bullets wandering across the empty valleys and only by some rare improbable chance getting home on a human body.

Often I used to gaze round the wintry landscape and marvel at the futility of it all. The inconclusiveness of such a kind of war! Earlier, about October, there had been savage fighting for all these hills; then, because the lack of men and arms, especially artillery, made any large-scale operation impossible, each army had dug itself in and settled down on the hill-tops it had won. Over to our right there was a small outpost, also P.O.U.M., and on the spur to our left, at seven o'clock of us, a P.S.U.C. position faced a taller spur with several small Fascist posts dotted on its peaks. The so-called line zigzagged to and fro in a pattern that would have been quite unintelligible if every position had not flown a flag. The P.O.U.M. and P.S.U.C. flags were red, those of the Anarchists red and black; the Fascists generally flew the monarchist flag (red-yellow-red), but occasionally they flew the flag of the Republic (red-yellow-purple). The scenery was stupendous, if you could forget that every mountain--top was occupied by troops and was therefore littered with tin cans and crusted with dung. To the right of us the sierra bent south--eastwards and made way for the wide, veined valley that stretched across to Huesca. In the middle of the plain a few tiny cubes sprawled like a throw of dice; this was the town of Robres, which was in Loyalist possession. Often in the mornings the valley was hidden under seas of cloud, out of which the hills rose flat and blue, giving the landscape a strange resemblance to a photographic negative. Beyond Huesca there were more hills of the same formation as our own, streaked with a pattern of snow which altered day by day. In the far distance the monstrous peaks of the Pyrenees, where the snow never melts, seemed to float upon nothing. Even down in the plain everything looked dead and bare. The hills opposite us were grey and wrinkled like the skins of elephants. Almost always the sky was empty of birds. I do not think I have ever seen a country where there were so few birds. The only birds one saw at any time were a kind of magpie, and the coveys of partridges that startled one at night with their sudden whirring, and, very rarely, the flights of eagles that drifted slowly over, generally followed by rifle-shots which they did not deign to notice.

At night and in misty weather, patrols were sent out in the valley between ourselves and the Fascists. The job was not popular, it was too cold and too easy to get lost, and I soon found that I could get leave to go out on patrol as often as I wished. In the huge jagged ravines there were no paths or tracks of any kind; you could only find your way about by making successive journeys and noting fresh landmarks each time. As the bullet flies the nearest Fascist post was seven hundred metres from our own, but it was a mile and a half by the only practicable route. It was rather fun wandering about the dark valleys with the stray bullets flying high overhead like redshanks whistling. Better than night-time were the heavy mists, which often lasted all day and which had a habit of clinging round the hill-tops and leaving the valleys clear. When you were anywhere near the Fascist lines you had to creep at a snail's pace; it was very difficult to move quietly on those hill-sides, among the crackling shrubs and tinkling limestones. It was only at the third or fourth attempt that I managed to find my way to the Fascist lines. The mist was very thick, and I crept up to the barbed wire to listen. I could hear the Fascists talking and singing inside. Then to my alarm I heard several of them coming down the hill towards me. I cowered behind a bush that suddenly seemed very small, and tried to cock my rifle without noise. However, they branched off and did not come within sight of me. Behind the bush where I was hiding I came upon various relics of the earlier fighting--a pile of empty cartridge-cases, a leather cap with a bullet-hole in it, and a red flag, obviously one-of our own. I took it back to the position, where it was unsentimentally torn up for cleaning-rags.

I had been made a corporal, or cabo, as it was called, as soon as we reached the front, and was in command of a guard of twelve men. It was no sinecure, especially at first. The centuria was an untrained mob composed mostly of boys in their teens. Here and there in the militia you came across children as young as eleven or twelve, usually refugees from Fascist territory who had been enlisted as militiamen as the easiest way of providing for them. As a rule they were employed on light work in the rear, but sometimes they managed to worm their way to the front line, where they were a public menace. I remember one little brute throwing a hand-grenade into the dug-out fire 'for a joke'. At Monte Pocero I do not think there was anyone younger than fifteen, but the average age must have been well under twenty. Boys of this age ought never to be used in the front line, because they cannot stand the lack of sleep which is inseparable from trench warfare. At the beginning it was almost impossible to keep our position properly guarded at night. The wretched children of my section could only be roused by dragging them out of their dug-outs feet foremost, and as soon as your back was turned they left their posts and slipped into shelter; or they would even, in spite of the frightful cold, lean up against the wall of the trench and fall fast asleep. Luckily the enemy were very unenterprising. There were nights when it seemed to me that our position could be stormed by twenty Boy Scouts armed with airguns, or twenty Girl Guides armed with battledores, for that matter.

At this time and until much later the Catalan militias were still on the same basis as they had been at the beginning of the war. In the early days of Franco's revolt the militias had been hurriedly raised by the various trade unions and political parties; each was essentially a political organization, owing allegiance to its party as much as to the central Government. When the Popular Army, which was a 'non-political' army organized on more or less ordinary lines, was raised at the beginning of 1937, the party militias were theoretically incorporated in it. But for a long time the only changes that occurred were on paper; the new Popular Army troops did not reach the Aragon front in any numbers till June, and until that time the militia-system remained unchanged. The essential point of the system was social equality between officers and men. Everyone from general to private drew the same pay, ate the same food, wore the same clothes, and mingled on terms of complete equality. If you wanted to slap the general commanding the division on the back and ask him for a cigarette, you could do so, and no one thought it curious. In theory at any rate each militia was a democracy and not a hierarchy. It was understood that orders had to be obeyed, but it was also understood that when you gave an order you gave it as comrade to comrade and not as superior to inferior. There were officers and N.C.O.S. but there was no military rank in the ordinary sense; no titles, no badges, no heel-clicking and saluting. They had attempted to produce within the militias a sort of temporary working model of the classless society. Of course there was no perfect equality, but there was a nearer approach to it than I had ever seen or than I would have thought conceivable in time of war.

But I admit that at first sight the state of affairs at the front horrified me. How on earth could the war be won by an army of this type? It was what everyone was saying at the time, and though it was true it was also unreasonable. For in the circumstances the militias could not have been much better than they were. A modern mechanized army does not spring up out of the ground, and if the Government had waited until it had trained troops at its disposal, Franco would never have been resisted. Later it became the fashion to decry the militias, and therefore to pretend that the faults which were due to lack of training and weapons were the result of the equalitarian system. Actually, a newly raised draft 'of militia was an undisciplined mob not because the officers called the private 'Comrade' but because raw troops are always an undisciplined mob. In practice the democratic 'revolutionary' type of discipline is more reliable than might be expected. In a workers' army discipline is theoretically voluntary. It is based on class-loyalty, whereas the discipline of a bourgeois conscript army is based ultimately on fear. (The Popular Army that replaced the militias was midway between the two types.) In the militias the bullying and abuse that go on in an ordinary army would never have been tolerated for a moment. The normal military punishments existed, but they were only invoked for very serious offences. When a man refused to obey an order you did not immediately get him punished; you first appealed to him in the name of comradeship. Cynical people with no experience of handling men will say instantly that this would never 'work', but as a matter of fact it does 'work' in the long run. The discipline of even the worst drafts of militia visibly improved as time went on. In January the job of keeping a dozen raw recruits up to the mark almost turned my hair grey. In May for a short while I was acting-lieutenant in command of about thirty men, English and Spanish. We had all been under fire for months, and I never had the slightest difficulty in getting an order obeyed or in getting men to volunteer for a dangerous job. 'Revolutionary' discipline depends on political consciousness--on an understanding of why orders must be obeyed; it takes time to diffuse this, but it also takes time to drill a man into an automaton on the barrack-square. The journalists who sneered at the militia-system seldom remembered that the militias had to hold the line while the Popular Army was training in the rear. And it is a tribute to the strength of 'revolutionary' discipline that the militias stayed in the field-at all. For until about June 1937 there was nothing to keep them there, except class loyalty. Individual deserters could be shot-- were shot, occasionally--but if a thousand men had decided to walk out of the line together there was no force to stop them. A conscript army in the same circumstances--with its battle-police removed--would have melted away. Yet the militias held the line, though God knows they won very few victories, and even individual desertions were not common. In four or five months in the P.O.U.M. militia I only heard of four men deserting, and two of those were fairly certainly spies who had enlisted to obtain information. At the beginning the apparent chaos, the general lack of training, the fact that you often had to argue for five minutes before you could get an order obeyed, appalled and infuriated me. I had British Army ideas, and certainly the Spanish militias were very unlike the British Army. But considering the circumstances they were better troops than one had any right to expect.

Meanwhile, firewood--always firewood. Throughout that period there is probably no entry in my diary that does not mention firewood, or rather the lack of it. We were between two and three thousand feet above sea-level, it was mid winter and the cold was unspeakable. The temperature was not exceptionally low, on many nights it did not even freeze, and the wintry sun often shone for an hour in the middle of the day; but even if it was not really cold, I assure you that it seemed so. Sometimes there were shrieking winds that tore your cap off and twisted your hair in all directions, sometimes there were mists that poured into the trench like a liquid and seemed to penetrate your bones; frequently it rained, and even a quarter of an hour's rain was enough to make conditions intolerable. The thin skin of earth over the limestone turned promptly into a slippery grease, and as you were always walking on a slope it was impossible to keep your footing. On dark nights I have often fallen half a dozen times in twenty yards; and this was dangerous, because it meant that the lock of one's rifle became jammed with mud. For days together clothes, boots, blankets, and rifles were more or less coated with mud. I had brought as many thick clothes as I could carry, but many of the men were terribly underclad. For the whole garrison, about a hundred men, there were only twelve great-coats, which had to be handed from sentry to sentry, and most of the men had only one blanket. One icy night I made a list in my diary of the clothes I was wearing. It is of some interest as showing the amount of clothes the human body can carry. I was wearing a thick vest and pants, a flannel shirt, two pull-overs, a woollen jacket, a pigskin jacket, corduroy breeches, puttees, thick socks, boots, a stout trench-coat, a muffler, lined leather gloves, and a woollen cap. Nevertheless I was shivering like a jelly. But I admit I am unusually sensitive to cold.

Firewood was the one thing that really mattered. The point about the firewood was that there was practically no firewood to be had. Our miserable mountain had not even at its best much vegetation, and for months it had been ranged over by freezing militiamen, with the result that everything thicker than one's finger had long since been burnt. When we were not eating, sleeping, on guard, or on fatigue-duty we were in the valley behind the position, scrounging for fuel. All my memories of that time are memories of scrambling up and down the almost perpendicular slopes, over the jagged limestone that knocked one's boots to pieces, pouncing eagerly on tiny twigs of wood. Three people searching for a couple of hours could collect enough fuel to keep the dug-out fire alight for about an hour. The eagerness of our search for firewood turned us all into botanists. We classified according to their burning qualities every plant that grew on the mountain-side; the various heaths and grasses that were good to start a fire with but burnt out in a few minutes, the wild rosemary and the tiny whin bushes that would burn when the fire was well alight, the stunted oak tree, smaller than a gooseberry bush, that was practically unburnable. There was a kind of dried-up reed that was very good for starting fires with, but these grew only on the hill-top to the left of the position, and you had to go under fire to get them. If the Fascist machine-gunners saw you they gave you a drum of ammunition all to yourself. Generally their aim was high and the bullets sang overhead like birds, but sometime they crackled and chipped the limestone uncomfortably close, whereupon you flung yourself on your face. You went on gathering reeds, however; nothing mattered in comparison with firewood.

Beside the cold the other discomforts seemed petty. Of course all of us were permanently dirty. Our water, like our food, came on mule-back from Alcubierre, and each man's share worked out at about a quart a day. It was beastly water, hardly more transparent than milk. Theoretically it was for drinking only, but I always stole a pannikinful for washing in the mornings. I used to wash one day and shave the next; there was never enough water for both. The position stank abominably, and outside the little enclosure of the barricade there was excrement everywhere. Some of the militiamen habitually defecated in the trench, a disgusting thing when one had to walk round it in the darkness. But the dirt never worried me. Dirt is a thing people make too much fuss about. It is astonishing how quickly you get used to doing without a handkerchief and to eating out of the tin pannikin in which you also wash. Nor was sleeping in one's clothes any hardship after a day or two. It was of course impossible to take one's clothes and especially one's boots off at night; one had to be ready to turn out instantly in case of an attack. In eighty nights I only took my clothes off three times, though I did occasionally manage to get them off in the daytime. It was too cold for lice as yet, but rats and mice abounded. It is often said that you don't find rats and mice in the same place, but you do when there is enough food for them.

In other ways we were not badly off. The food was good enough and there was plenty of wine. Cigarettes were still being issued at the rate of a packet a day, matches were issued every other day, and there was even an issue of candles. They were very thin candles, like those on a Christmas cake, and were popularly supposed to have been looted from churches. Every dug-out was issued daily with three inches of candle, which would bum for about twenty minutes. At that time it was still possible to buy candles, and I had brought several pounds of them with me. Later on the famine of matches and candles made life a misery. You do not realize the importance of these things until you lack them. In a night-alarm, for instance, when everyone in the dug--out is scrambling for his rifle and treading on everybody else's face, being able to strike a light may make the difference between life and death. Every militiaman possessed a tinder-lighter and several yards of yellow wick. Next to his rifle it was his most important possession. The tinder-lighters had the great advantage that they could be struck in a wind, but they would only smoulder, so that they were no use for lighting a fire. When the match famine was at its worst our only way of producing a flame was to pull the bullet out of a cartridge and touch the cordite off with a tinder-lighter.

It was an extraordinary life that we were living--an extraordinary way to be at war, if you could call it war. The whole militia chafed against the inaction and clamoured constantly to know why we were not allowed to attack. But it was perfectly obvious that there would be no battle for a long while yet, unless the enemy started it. Georges Kopp, on his periodical tours of inspection, was quite frank with us. 'This is not a war,' he used to say, 'it is a comic opera with an occasional death.' As a matter of fact the stagnation on the Aragon front had political causes of which I knew nothing at that time; but the purely military difficulties--quite apart from the lack of reserves of men--were obvious to anybody.

To begin with, there was the nature of the country. The front line, ours and the Fascists', lay in positions of immense natural strength, which as a rule could only be approached from one side. Provided a few trenches have been dug, such places cannot be taken by infantry, except in overwhelming numbers. In our own position or most of those round us a dozen men with two machine-guns could have held off a battalion. Perched on the hill-tops as we were, we should have made lovely marks for artillery; but there was no artillery. Sometimes I used to gaze round the landscape and long--oh, how passionately!--for a couple of batteries of guns. One could have destroyed the enemy positions one after another as easily as smashing nuts with a hammer. But on our side the guns simply did not exist. The Fascists did occasionally manage to bring a gun or two from Zaragoza and fire a very few shells, so few that they never even found the range and the shells plunged harmlessly into the empty ravines. Against machine-guns and without artillery there are only three things you can do: dig yourself in at a safe distance--four hundred yards, say--advance across the open and be massacred, or make small-scale night-attacks that will not alter the general situation. Practically the alternatives are stagnation or suicide.

And beyond this there was the complete lack of war materials of every description. It needs an effort to realize how badly the militias were armed at this time. Any public school O.T.C. in England is far more like a modern army than we were. The badness of our weapons was so astonishing that it is worth recording in detail.

For this sector of the front the entire artillery consisted of four trench-mortars with fifteen rounds for each gun. Of course they were far too precious to be fired and the mortars were kept in Alcubierre. There were machine-guns at the rate of approximately one to fifty men; they were oldish guns, but fairly accurate up to three or four hundred yards. Beyond this we had only rifles, and the majority of the rifles were scrap-iron. There were three types of rifle in use. The first was the long Mauser. These were seldom less than twenty years old, their sights were about as much use as a broken speedometer, and in most of them the rifling was hopelessly corroded; about one rifle in ten was not bad, however. Then there was the short Mauser, or mousqueton, really a cavalry weapon. These were more popular than the others because they were lighter to carry and less nuisance in a trench, also because they were comparatively new and looked efficient. Actually they were almost useless. They were made out of reassembled parts, no bolt belonged to its rifle, and three-quarters of them could be counted on to jam after five shots. There were also a few Winchester rifles. These were nice to shoot with, but they were wildly inaccurate, and as their cartridges had no clips they could only be fired one shot at a time. Ammunition was so scarce that each man entering the line was only issued with fifty rounds, and most of it was exceedingly bad. The Spanish-made cartridges were all refills and would jam even the best rifles. The Mexican cartridges were better and were therefore reserved for the machine-guns. Best of all was the German-made ammunition, but as this came only from prisoners and deserters there was not much of it. I always kept a clip of German or Mexican ammunition in my pocket for use in an emergency. But in practice when the emergency came I seldom fired my rifle; I was too frightened of the beastly thing jamming and too anxious to reserve at any rate one round that would go off.

We had no tin hats, no bayonets, hardly any revolvers or pistols, and not more than one bomb between five or ten men. The bomb in use at this time was a frightful object known as the 'F.A.I. bomb', it having been produced by the Anarchists in the early days of the war. It was on the principle of a Mills bomb, but the lever was held down not by a pin but a piece of tape. You broke the tape and then got rid of the bomb with the utmost possible speed. It was said of these bombs that they were 'impartial'; they killed the man they were thrown at and the man who threw them. There were several other types, even more primitive but probably a little less dangerous--to the thrower, I mean. It was not till late March that I saw a bomb worth throwing.

And apart from weapons there was a shortage of all the minor necessities of war. We had no maps or charts, for instance. Spain has never been fully surveyed, and the only detailed maps of this area were the old military ones, which were almost all in the possession of the Fascists. We had no range-finders, no telescopes, no periscopes, no field-glasses except for a few privately-owned pairs, no flares or Very lights, no wire-cutters, no armourers' tools, hardly even any cleaning materials. The Spaniards seemed never to have heard of a pull-through and looked on in surprise when I constructed one. When you wanted your rifle cleaned you took it to the sergeant, who possessed a long brass ramrod which was invariably bent and therefore scratched the rifling. There was not even any gun oil. You greased your rifle with olive oil, when you could get hold of it; at different times I have greased mine with vaseline, with cold cream, and even with bacon-fat. Moreover, there were no lanterns or electric torches--at this time there was not, I believe, such a thing as an electric torch throughout the whole of our sector of the front, and you could not buy one nearer than Barcelona, and only with difficulty even there.

As time went on, and the desultory rifle-fire rattled among the hills, I began to wonder with increasing scepticism whether anything would ever happen to bring a bit of life, or rather a bit of death, into this cock-eyed war. It was pneumonia that we were fighting against, not against men. When the trenches are more than five hundred yards apart no one gets hit except by accident. Of course there were casualties, but the majority of them were self-inflicted. If I remember rightly, the first five men I saw wounded in Spain were all wounded by our own weapons--I don't mean intentionally, but owing to accident or carelessness. Our worn-out rifles were a danger in themselves. Some of them had a nasty trick of going off if the butt was tapped on the ground; I saw a man shoot himself through the hand owing to this. And in the darkness the raw recruits were always firing at one another. One evening when it was barely even dusk a sentry let fly at me from a distance of twenty yards; but he missed me by a yard--goodness knows how many times the Spanish standard of marksmanship has saved my life. Another time I had gone out on patrol in the mist and had carefully warned the guard commander beforehand. But in coming back I stumbled against a bush, the startled sentry called out that the Fascists were coming, and I had the pleasure of hearing the guard commander order everyone to open rapid fire in my direction. Of course I lay down and the bullets went harmlessly over me. Nothing will convince a Spaniard, at least a young Spaniard, that fire-arms are dangerous. Once, rather later than this, I was photographing some machine-gunners with their gun, which was pointed directly towards me.

'Don't fire,' I said half-jokingly as I focused the camera.

'Oh no, we won't fire.'

The next moment there was a frightful roar and a stream of bullets tore past my face so close that my cheek was stung by grains of cordite. It was unintentional, but the machine-gunners considered it a great joke. Yet only a few days earlier they had seen a mule-driver accidentally shot by a political delegate who was playing the fool with an automatic pistol and had put five bullets in the mule-driver's lungs.

The difficult passwords which the army was using at this time were a minor source of danger. They were those tiresome double passwords in which one word has to be answered by another. Usually they were of an elevating and revolutionary nature, such as Cultura--progreso, or Seremos--invencibles, and it was often impossible to get illiterate sentries to remember these highfalutin' words. One night, I remember, the password was Cataluna--eroica, and a moonfaced peasant lad named Jaime Domenech approached me, greatly puzzled, and asked me to explain.

'Eroica--what does eroica mean?'

I told him that it meant the same as valiente. A little while later he was stumbling up the trench in the darkness, and the sentry challenged him:

'Alto! Cataluna!'

'Valiente!' yelled Jaime, certain that he was saying the right thing.

Bang!

However, the sentry missed him. In this war everyone always did miss everyone else, when it was humanly possible.

在掘壕固守的阵地战中,最重要的东西莫过于以下五件:柴草、食物、烟草、蜡烛和敌人。如果按其重要程度来排列的话,在冬季的萨拉戈萨前沿阵地上,敌人只能排在倒数第一位。除了在夜间,即使遭遇意外袭击——突然袭击总是难免的,谁也不会太把敌人当回事。远处的敌人有如一些黑色的小昆虫,偶尔也能见到他们忙忙碌碌地来回走动。战斗双方的当务之急是设法抵御严寒。

老实说,我在西班牙的这段日子里,自始至终,几乎没碰到过什么真正的战斗。从一月到五月,我一直待在阿拉贡前线。从一月到三月底,除了特鲁埃尔以外,那里基本上没有发生什么战事,或者说只发生过几次很小的冲突。三月,在韦斯卡周围发生了一次较大规模的战斗,我自己只在战斗中扮演了一个无足轻重的角色。六月,进攻韦斯卡的战斗遭受了惨重损失,一天之内就有数千人阵亡,而我在那之前就已受伤,丧失了战斗能力。我几乎从没有想过人们一般很在意的那些战斗荣誉之类的事情。我既没有遭遇过任何一架飞机在我身旁投下一枚炸弹,也没有遭遇过任何一颗炮弹在我身旁五十码之内爆炸,我只遭遇过一次白刃战(哪怕一次也嫌太多,我完全有理由这样说)。当然,我们常常遭遇重机枪的火力压制,但通常身处安全距离之外。如果你采取合理的自我保护措施,即使在韦斯卡的前沿阵地上,一般也不会遭遇什么危险。

从这里再往北就是环抱萨拉戈萨的群山。战斗处于胶着状态的时候你只能感到疲劳和厌倦。整天过着有如城里小职员那样的既忙忙碌碌,又机械单调的生活。站岗、巡逻、挖战壕;挖战壕、巡逻、站岗。在那边的每个山顶上,都有一群法西斯分子或保皇党分子龟缩在他们的旗帜下瑟瑟发抖;他们每个人都裹紧肮脏破烂的衣服,试图抵御寒冷。漫无目的的子弹没日没夜地在空旷的山谷间游荡,但在某个人身体上找到归宿的可能性微乎其微。

通常我会环顾周围的冬天景象,并对这一切感到十分惊奇。这种战争的进程实在是太难以预测了!在较早的时候,大约是十月份,所有这些山头上都曾进行过残酷的战斗;接下来,由于交战双方均严重缺乏战斗人员和武器,特别是火炮,以至于谁也无力继续发起任何较大规模的军事行动。双方的士兵都在各自攻占的山头上挖掘战壕,作为隐蔽和藏身之所。向我们的右边看去,那里有一个不大的前沿哨所,它也是由我们的马统工党民兵守卫的;在我们左边的支脉上,跟我们呈150°的位置,是一个加联社党(P.S.U.C.,加泰罗尼亚联合社会党。——译者)的阵地,阵地的对面是一个更高的山头,在那个山头的顶部有许许多多法西斯分子的小型哨所。这种所谓前沿阵地基本上呈之字形曲折延伸,如果不是由于每个哨所都竖有一面旗帜的话,那么谁也无法弄清这些哨所究竟属于交战的哪一方。马统工党和加联社党的旗帜是红色的,那些无政府主义者的旗帜是红黑相间的;法西斯分子通常打着君主制时代的旗帜(红—黄—红),但有时也打着共和政体的旗帜(红—黑—紫)。[1]这里的景色令人惊奇赞叹,但前提是你必须忘却每个山顶上都驻扎着部队,而且五花八门的空罐头盒被扔得到处都是,其一些甚至还残留着粪便。在我们的右面,山脊向东南方向延伸,但在前方被一条峡谷断开,那条宽阔的峡谷岩层裸露,一直通向韦斯卡。在平原中部,散乱地分布着一些正方形的房屋,如同一把掷出去的骰子。这是罗布莱斯小镇,已经被保皇党派占据。早晨,这儿的山谷总是被大片云雾所遮蔽,突出在云雾之上的群峰,形状扁平而且泛出蓝色,这就使得这里的景色与照片的底片有着奇怪的相似之处。在韦斯卡以南,有更多这种类型的山峰,和我们这里一样,当群山被大雪覆盖以后,雪的纹路每天都会变化。在更远的比利牛斯山脉的那些巨大山峰上,积雪终年不化,所以看上去就像浮在空中。即使山脚下的平原上,看起来也是光秃秃和毫无生机的。我们对面的山岳是灰暗的,岩石的皱褶就像是大象的皮肤。天空中几乎看不到什么飞禽。我想,我还从未见过鸟类如此稀少的国家。常见的只有一种鹊鸟,以及会在夜晚突然鸣叫、吓人一跳的山鹑。此外,只有在非常偶然的情况下才难得一见的苍鹰,它们在天空中缓缓滑翔,根本不理会阵地上来复枪的射击声。

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[1]奥威尔死后,在他的遗稿中发现了一张勘误表:“我现在不确定我是否看到过法西斯分子打着共和政体的旗帜,尽管我想当然地认为他们有时会摇动这样的旗帜,上面带有纳粹的标志。”

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在夜晚和有薄雾的天气,我们通常会派出巡逻队,在我们和法西斯分子对峙的山谷间巡逻。这桩差事并不受人欢迎,因为天气太冷,又很容易迷路;而且我还很快发现,只要自己愿意离开阵地,以巡逻为借口就可以了,想离开多少次都成。在这个巨大的、锯齿状的山谷中,没有任何现成的道路可走;你只能循着巡逻队以前所走过的路线,并看清他们留下的最新路标摸索前进,这样才不至于迷路。即使从最靠近的法西斯分子哨所里射出的子弹,相距我们至少也有七百米远,而按唯一可行的路线巡逻则必须绕行一点五英里以上。在黑暗的山谷中跌跌爬爬地前进,流弹在我们的头顶上方掠过,发出有如红脚鸢的鸣叫声,想想也觉得挺有意思的。雾天巡逻比夜间巡逻要好一些,但浓雾通常会持续一整天,而且喜欢停滞在山顶周围,给山谷中留下了清晰的能见度。当你在离法西斯分子阵地很近的地方行进时,你不得不轻手轻脚地如同蜗牛那样爬行,而要想在山坡上悄无声息地爬行那就更困难,特别是那些灌木丛和石块,稍稍一碰就会发出声响。到了第三、四次,我才找到了接近法西斯阵地的路。雾非常浓,我轻手轻脚地爬到铁丝网旁。我能隐约听到法西斯分子在战壕里面说话、唱歌。

然后我警觉地听到几个法西斯分子朝我所在的山这边过来,我侧卧在一簇突然感觉十分矮小的树丛后面,并悄悄地端起我的来复枪。然而,法西斯分子分成两路走开了,根本都没进入我的视线。在我藏身的树丛后,我看到前面战斗留下的物品——一堆子弹壳,一顶带有弹孔的皮帽子,还有一面红旗,显然是我方部队的旗帜。我把旗子带回我们的阵地,之后它却被无情地撕成了若干块抹布。

刚抵达前线,我就被任命为下士,或者叫做cabo(班长),并负责指挥一支十二人的队伍。这个小分队只是一群毫无训练的乌合之众,成员基本上都是些十几岁的孩子。在民兵中,年仅十一二岁的少年儿童到处可见,他们通常是来自法西斯占领区的难民。让他们参加民兵,也是养活他们的最简便的办法。通常,他们会被安排在后方从事轻松的工作,但有时他们也会设法逐步地进入前线。在前线,他们给大家造成了威胁。我记得有个小混蛋将一颗手榴弹丢到防空壕的火堆里,事后还说那仅仅是“为了开个玩笑”。在波切洛山(MontePocero),我虽然认为那里的任何人不会小于十五岁,但大家的平均年龄肯定不到二十岁。这种年龄的孩子根本就不该被送上前线,因为他们无法忍受长期睡眠不足,在前沿战壕中缺觉那可是家常便饭。起初,要想让我们的岗哨在夜晚正常执勤几乎是不可能的事。我的这个小分队的坏小子们,你只有把他们从防空壕里拖出来才能把他们弄醒,然后就在你转过身来的一刹那,他们便离开岗哨,重新溜进了防空壕。有时候,尽管天寒地冻冷得可怕,他们竟然也能斜靠着战壕壁酣然入睡。幸运的是,敌人也同样缺乏进取精神。在我看来,在许多个夜晚,我们的阵地完全有可能被二十个拿气枪的童子军攻占,此外,二十个拿着羽毛球拍的女童子军说不定也能干成这件事。

在那时以及此后很长一段时间,加泰罗尼亚的民兵始终坚持自己在战争开始时的立场。在佛朗哥政变的早期,各种工会和政党大都匆匆忙忙地组建了自己的民兵队伍;每一个民兵组织实质上就是某个政治组织,它们效忠于自己的政党,有如效忠中央政府。人民军——在名义上是一支“非政治”派别的部队,但它从组建开始就在相当程度上依附于常规阵线(ordinarylines)——是在1937年初建立的,该党的民兵从理论上来说已合并到人民军中去了,但在很长的一段时间里没有任何实质性的改变,一切都仅仅停留在口头上;新组建起来的人民军的大部分人马迟至六月才开赴阿拉贡前线。在此之前,整个民兵制度依然没有做出任何实质性的调整。这一制度的根本特征在于官兵之间存在着普遍的社会平等。民兵组织中的每一个人,从将军到士兵,大家拿同等的薪金,吃同样的食物,穿同样的衣服,一切都完全平等。如果有个士兵拍拍将军的背,向他要一支香烟,他完全可以这么做,每个民兵部队都相当于一个民主政体,而非等级组织。命令应当被执行,这也是大家都能理解的,但当你发出命令时,你所发出的命令是同志式的,而不是上级对下级的方式,这也大家都能了解的。这里虽然也有军官和军士(N.C.O.),但没有通常意义上的军阶、军衔、徽章,以及咔嚓一声立正敬礼之类的东西。军官们试图在民兵中组织创造一种暂时的无阶级社会的模式。当然,这种平等还不是人们理想中的平等,但这比我在战时曾经看到过或想到过的一切都更接近于理想。

不过我得承认,我对最初见到的前线军事进展感到十分惊骇。这样的一支军队怎么可能赢得战争呢?这也是当时人人都在谈论的话题。尽管这些都是事实,但大加指责则是毫无道理的。因为在当时的具体情况下,民兵部队实际上已经够好的了。一支现代化的机械部队并不是从地面上冒出来的,如果政府坐等现有的部队完全训练好了才投入战斗,那么佛朗哥的进攻就不可能遭到有效的回击。此后,指责民兵成为一种风气,甚至连训练不足和武器奇缺的责任也被无端地归咎于民兵中的平均主义制度。事实上,任何一支刚刚组建起来的民兵队伍都不是一支纪律严明的队伍,原因并非在于军官们被称为“同志”,而是因为任何一支军队在草创时期全都必然如此。事实上,民主的“革命”式的军事纪律比最初预期的要好得多。在一支工人民兵队伍中,军事纪律在理论上也是同样应该被自愿执行的。这种纪律建立在忠诚于本阶级的基础上。相反,一支从资产阶级中征募的队伍,其纪律则最终是建立在强制和恐惧的基础之上。(取代民兵的人民军则介于这两种类型之间。)其他军队中盛行的欺凌和辱骂行为,在民兵队伍中是任何时候也不能被容忍的。在民兵队伍中正常的纪律处罚依然保留着,但处罚只被适用于最严重的过失。当某个人拒绝服从命令时,不会立即让他受到惩处,人们首先要以同志式的友好态度对他进行劝导。从未管理过士兵且愤世嫉俗的人会立刻指出,这样做决不会“起作用”。但事实表明这样做从长期看的确是“起作用”了。随着时间的推移,哪怕是民兵中最不守纪律的一些人也都发生了显著的改变。在一月份,为了让十二个新兵达到要求,把我的头发都快折腾白了。在五月,我一度担任代理中尉的职务,指挥三十个人,其中有英国人,也有西班牙人。几个月来,我们持续遭受进攻,在下达命令或要求自愿从事某项危险工作方面,我几乎从未遇到过什么困难。“革命”纪律要靠政治觉悟来执行——要理解服从命令的原因,要把这种观念推广开来需要时间,但是要把一个人训练成兵营里的机器人也同样需要时间。嘲笑民兵队伍的新闻记者也许很少记得,当人民军尚在后方训练时,是民兵们在前线坚守着。从根本上来讲,民兵能守在阵地上,这本身就是对“革命”纪律的力量的一种颂扬。直到1937年6月,民兵们能够留在那里。靠的完全就是对本阶级的无限忠诚,逃兵有可能被枪毙——在偶尔和特殊的情况下也确有逃兵被枪毙的。要是强征入伍的队伍处在同样的情况之下——在战地指挥部转移之后——恐怕早就作鸟兽散了。而民兵们却仍在固守前线阵地,临阵脱逃者更是极为罕见,尽管只有上帝才知道他们赢得胜利的可能性是多么微乎其微。在置身马统工党民兵中的四五个月里,我只听说有四个人开了小差,而且其中有两个人无疑是间谍,他们来到民兵队伍中完全是为了获取情报。我所带领的新兵队伍,最初显得混乱不堪,从未经过训练,任何一项命令都要至少争吵五分钟才能得以执行,这一事实令我十分惊骇和恼火。我具有英国式的军事观念,而毫无疑问,西班牙军队完全不像英国军队。然而,我认为,考虑到当时的实际情况,其实他们比起预期的要好得多。

同时,柴草问题——永远是柴草问题。在那段时间里,我的日记中可能无时无处不提到柴草,或严重缺乏柴草的问题。我们的阵地高处海拔大约两千至三千英尺,正值隆冬,寒冷是不言而喻的。气温倒是没有低得太过分,有些夜晚甚至没结冰,冬日的阳光在中午还常常会灿烂上个把小时。但即便如此,我也敢向你保证,那天气还是令人难以忍受。呼啸的寒风会不时掀掉你的帽子,把你的头发吹得东倒西歪。浓雾会如同液体一般随时涌进战壕把寒冷渗进你的骨髓。这里经常下雨,即使只下一刻钟,周围的环境也会变得令人无法忍受。石灰岩上的那层薄土会迅速变得油脂般的滑腻,因为你总是要在这种斜坡上行走。在黑夜里,我每走出二十码的距离,差不多就要摔倒六次。而这很危险,因为这会造成枪走火或让泥土堵死枪管无法使用。许多天来,每个人的衣服、靴子、毯子和枪上差不多都被弄上一层泥巴。我通常穿上我能扛得住的所有厚衣服,但许多人只能有少得可怜的衣服遮体御寒。我们阵地上的大约一百人,总共只有十二件厚外套,这些外套必须在哨位上相互接递,大多数人只有一条毯子。在一个冰冷的夜晚,我在日记中开列了一份我身上所穿衣服的清单。战士一下一个人的身上究竟能够穿着多少件衣服,也是一件十分有趣的事情。我同时穿在身上的是:一件厚背心和内裤、一件法兰绒衬衫、两件套头衫、一件羊毛夹克衫、一件猪皮夹克衫、一条灯心绒裤子、一副皮绑腿、一双厚袜子、一双靴子、一件结实的军用短上衣、一条围巾、一副马具革手套,还有一顶羊毛针织帽子。然而,我仍然哆嗦得像一团肉冻似的。我得承认,我对寒冷异常地敏感。

柴草是此时最急需的东西。柴草的温暖体的症结在于,实际上根本就找不到柴草。在我们的这座可怜的山上,即使季节最好的时候也长不出多少草木,而好几个月来这里仅有的干柴枯草早就被冻坏了的民兵们搜索殆尽了,结果是,任何哪怕只有手指般长的草木都被弄来烧火了。除了吃饭、睡觉、站岗或干重活太累以外,我们都会去阵地后面的山谷中搜寻柴草。我对于那个时期的所有记忆都是关于在几乎垂直的山坡上攀爬寻找,越过那些会把靴子划成碎片的锯齿状岩石,如饥似渴地扑向枝条稀疏的小灌木丛等等情景。三个人搜寻上好几个小时,只能搜集到能够在防空壕里勉强燃烧一个小时的柴草。搜寻柴草的强烈欲望使我们变成了植物学家。我们能够根据燃烧状况辨别山坡上的每一种植物。多数灌木和烟草比较容易燃烧,但在数分钟内就会燃烧殆尽;比醋栗还要矮小的橡树的枝条,几乎很难烧着。有一种干芦苇非常适合点燃火堆,但它只生长在我们阵地左边的山头上,你必须冒着生命危险才能把它弄回来。如果法西斯分子的机枪手一旦发现了你,就会立即对你进行一通猛烈扫射。不过,子弹通常在准星定位上有点略微偏噶,子弹会像蝗虫般从头顶上空飞过,有时也会击中身边的岩石,你得马上卧倒。但你仍会继续搜集芦苇,与获得柴草相比,其他的一切也就不那么重要了。

除了寒冷,其他艰难困苦看起来就似乎根本不值一提了。当然,长期以来我们每个人都显得非常邋遢肮脏。我们的生活用水,如同我们的食物一样,都是靠骡子从阿尔库维耶雷驮运过来的,每个人全天只供应一夸脱左右。这些水极其糟糕,一般不会比牛奶更透明。按规定这水只可饮用不可它用,但我总会悄悄地舀上一小杯用于清晨梳洗。我习惯于头一天洗脸,第二天刮胡子;因为没有足够的水同时干完这两件事。我们的驻地上有一种可恨的臭味,在简易防御栏的外面,到处都是排泄物。一些民兵更喜欢在战壕内方便。要是有谁必须在黑暗中经过这些地方的石斛,那才真是让他恶心透了。不过,这些污物从来也没有把我给难为住。人们对于这些污物实在是太大惊小怪了。其实,你会很快就习惯于不用手帕,以及把马口罐头盒既用来盥洗也用来吃饭,而且快得让人吃惊。至于和衣而睡,那就更不在话下了。当然,在夜晚脱衣睡觉,特别是脱掉靴子睡觉,实际上也不可能的;假如遇到敌方突然攻击,任何人都必须立即起身投入战斗。在连续八十多个夜晚里,我只有三次脱掉衣服睡觉。在白天,尽管我偶尔也真想把衣服脱掉轻松一下,但这种天气即使对于虱子来说也嫌太冷了。可家鼠和仓鼠照样成群结队地到处乱窜。人们常说,不会在同一个地方见到这两种老鼠。可是,由于我们这里有足够的食物,随时随地都能见到这两种老鼠的混合编队。

至于其他物资我们并不匮乏。食物够好的了,还有大量的酒。雪茄仍按每天一盒供应,火柴隔天供应一次,甚至还供应蜡烛。这是非常细的蜡烛,就像插在圣诞蛋糕上的那种,很多人都怀疑这种东西是不是从教堂里抢来的。每座防空壕每天配给三英寸长的蜡烛,大约够点二十分钟。那时还能买到蜡烛,我买了好几磅蜡烛随身携带。后来火柴和蜡烛的奇缺使生活变得有如一场噩梦。你只有在缺乏这些东西的时候,才会真正感觉到它们的重要。比如说,当警报在夜间突然响起的时候,防空壕里的每个人都会立即翻身而起争相拿起自己的枪,甚至踩踏碰撞到其他人的脸,此时,是否有灯光那就相当于生与死的差别。每个民兵都拥有一个火绒打火机和好几码长的黄色的打火机油绳,通常放在来复枪旁边,这也是他最重要的财产。火绒打火机的最大优点是抗风,能在风中点燃。但由于着得太慢,一般不用它来生火。在火柴奇缺的情况下,我们唯一的点火办法是拔掉子弹头,击发弹壳中的火药,点燃火绒打火机的油绳。

那时,我们所过的日子确实非常特别——一种战时的特别生活方式,如果你将其称之为战争的话。全体民兵队伍对于这种不作为的战争方式都很恼火,并经常为此发生骚动,谁都想知道究竟为什么不允许我们发起进攻。事情非常明显,我们已有好些日子没有主动发起攻击了,只有敌人偶尔挑起零星战斗。乔治?柯普在定期巡视阵地时,经常非常坦率地与我们交谈。“这不是一场战争,”他说,“这只是一场偶尔夹杂着死亡的喜剧。”事实上,阿拉贡战线的沉寂是有其深刻的政治原因的,而那时我却一无所知;这种纯粹的军事困境——与后备兵力缺乏全然不同——对于每个人来说都是显而易见的。

首先,这是由于这个国家的山川地理所决定的。在我们和法西斯分子交战的前线,双方都在自然地理条件最具优势的地方设置了阵地,它通常只能从某一侧接近。如果阵地再挖上了战壕——即使派上一个步兵团也无法攻克,除非派出更为强大的兵力。在我们的这个阵地以及周围的大多数阵地上,只要有十二个人加两挺机关枪就足以击退一支部队的进攻。我们占据着山顶上的有利位置,本该用大炮轰出可爱的印记作个纪念,但这里什么火炮也没有。我常常环顾敌方阵地,并期盼着——噢,这种棋盘是何等急切啊!——几组排炮。那样,只有一个人就能轻松地逐个摧毁敌军阵地,就像用锤子砸开核桃那样轻而易举。但在我们这一方哪怕一门炮也没有。法西斯分子偶尔也辉设法从萨拉戈萨弄来一两门炮,并射出有限的几枚炮弹,少得在射程之内都难得找到一块弹片,剩下的弹壳有气无力地落入空荡荡的峡谷中。在既没机枪又没有火炮的情况下,人们所能做的就是三件事:在安全距离——比如四百码——掘个洞把自己隐蔽起来;在开阔地带进军从而被大批杀死;或者进行小规模的夜袭,而这不会改变战争的整体局面。实际上,真正可供人们选择的只有两条:要么按兵不动,要么自寻死路。

此外,那就是人们经常谈论的武器装备的极度匮乏。这需要耗费许多精力才能弄清此时民兵的武装程度究竟如何糟糕。英格兰O.T.C.*任何一家公立学校比起我们来都更像一支现代军队。我们的武器装备的低劣程度是那样令人惊骇,以至于我不得不把相关情形细述一下。

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*Officer'sTrainingCorps,英国军官训练队。——译者

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在我们的这个前线小分队中,整个炮兵部队总共只有四门迫击炮,每门炮只有十五颗炮弹。当然,这几门迫击炮实在是太珍稀贵重了,不能轻易使用,多数时间留在远离前线的阿尔库维耶雷。机枪与民兵人数的比例是一比五十,这些机枪比较陈旧,但在三百至四百码的范围内命中率还算比较高。此外我们就只有来复枪了。大部分来复枪都快锈蚀成废铁了。尚能勉强使用的来复枪只有三种了。一种是长筒毛瑟枪。其中使用时间少于二十年的极为罕见,瞄准器就像是路边锈蚀的计程铁桩,其中大部分都锈蚀得根本无法使用了:每十枝当中只有一枝还能勉强使用。另一种是短筒毛瑟枪,或者称为骑步枪。这是一种真正的骑兵武器,比其他枪支更受欢迎。因为这种枪更轻,更便于携带,在战壕里使用不大会出麻烦;当然,也因为它相对较新,看起来似乎不错。其实这种枪基本上不起什么作用。所有这些步枪都是由各种杂七杂八的部件拼凑而成的,没有一个扳机是这支枪的原装配件,其中3/4的枪支最多射击五次就要发生卡壳。有一些温切斯特来复枪,用起来倒是挺好,就是准头儿极差,而且弹膛上不带子弹匣,每次只能开一枪。弹药是那样的宝贵,以至于每个士兵只能发给五十发子弹,其中大部分还糟得出奇。西班牙生产的子弹壳是再次填充火药重复利用的,能卡住最好的来复枪。墨西哥产的子弹要好一些,因此都被留给机枪了。德国生产的子弹是最好的,但这只能从俘虏或逃兵那里才能得到,所以数量很少。我总是在兜里揣上一匣德国或墨西哥制造的子弹,以备出现紧急情况时使用。实际上,即使遇到紧急情况我也很少开枪,因为我实在担心发生令人头疼的卡壳或者某颗子弹突然走火之类的事情。

在我们民兵部队中,没有钢盔,没有刺刀,甚至几乎没有左轮手枪或其他手枪,平均每五至十个人才能拥有一枚手榴弹。我们在这一时期所使用的手榴弹,那才是一种真正令人望而生畏的家伙,名叫“F.A.I.手榴弹”。它是由无政府主义者在战争初期制造的。它模仿米尔斯式(卵形)手榴弹的外形,但不用保险销而是使用拉火索。使用时,你必须拉断拉火索,然后尽可能以最快速度将它扔出去。一般地说,这种手榴弹的表现是非常“公平”的,它既可能在那边的敌人中爆炸,也可能在这边投弹者的手中爆炸。此外,还有一些其他类型的手榴弹,它们更为原始,但相对稍稍安全一些——我的意思是,这仅仅对于投掷者而言。直到三月下旬,我才首次见到一枚像样的手榴弹。

除了武器,其他必备的军需品也同样短缺。比如说,我们既无陆图也无海图。西班牙大地从来也没有被充分地勘察过。我们有关这一地区的唯一的地图,也是老掉牙的军用地图。这种地图还大都掌握在法西斯分子的手中。我们没有测距仪,没有望远镜,没有潜望镜,除了极少数人有民用望远镜根本没有军用野外望远镜。我们没有照明弹或维利式信号弹*,没有钢丝钳,没有军械士**所需的工具,甚至连任何清洁工具都难以找到。西班牙人似乎从未听说过清洁枪筒用的绳刷,在我轻松地制造出来一个之后,他们惊奇得不得了。此前,当你需要清理自己的枪管时,只能把它交给军士,他会用一根长长的铜质推弹杆——总是七歪八扭地——来回刮擦膛线。这里甚至没有擦枪用的机油。要是找到橄榄油,那就用橄榄油来擦枪。在不同时期,我曾不得不用凡士林、护肤霜,甚至猪油来擦枪。这里既没有路灯,也没有手电筒——我确信,当时在我们周围的整个前线地区都找不到手电筒这种东西。能买到手电筒的最近的地方是巴塞罗那,而即使在那里,购买也很困难。

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*由美国海军军官爱德华?维利(1847—1910)发明的一种有色信号弹。——译者

**指维修所在部队或军舰的轻兵器,以及给战斗机装配弹药的技术军士。——译者

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伴随着时间的推移和响彻山谷的断续枪声,我开始越来越疑虑,并很想知道会不会发生点什么事能给这种扭曲的战争生活带着一点生机,甚至哪怕有一丝死亡。我们此时与之奋斗的是肺炎,而非那些敌人。敌我双方的战壕相距至少五百码,只有在极其偶然的情况下才会有人被击中。当然,人员伤亡总是有的,但大多是我方自己造成的。如果没记错的话,我在西班牙看到的最初五个伤员都是被我们自己的武器伤害了的——我并非说这是故意的,而是由于意外或粗心大意。我们的破烂枪本身就是一种危险品。有些枪简直糟透了,枪托稍稍一碰地马上就会走火,我亲眼看到有个士兵就是这样伤了自己的手。而且,许多未训练的新兵经常在黑暗中相互误击。有个晚上,甚至还没到黄昏时分,一个哨兵就在只有二十码左右的距离向我开枪射击。不过偏出了足足有一码。鬼才知道:西班牙人糟糕的射击标准究竟有多少次救了我的命。另一次,我在雾蔼中巡逻,行前曾再三叮咛值班队长,返回时千万不要发生误会。但在返回时我被一株灌木意外绊倒,哨兵闻声后惊慌失措地高声大叫法西斯分子来了,同时我也有幸听到值班队长命令大家,用密集的火力向我所在的方位射击。当然,幸好我是被绊倒在地的,子弹从我身体上方飞过,没有造成意外伤害。没有什么能让西班牙人,至少是年轻的西班牙人相信,武器是危险的。在此后的一段时间里,有一次我正在准备拍摄几张枪口对准相机的机枪手照片。

“别开枪!”我在给相机调整焦距的时候,半是认真半是玩笑地说道。

“哦,不!我们不会开枪的。”

可是,话音刚落就传来了震耳欲聋、极为可怕的机枪射击声,一串串子弹紧贴着我的面颊飞过,火药的喷射气流犹如多股鱼叉扑面而来,我顿时感到满脸刺痛。其实,机枪手们并非蓄意伤害我,他们只不过是想跟我开个大一点的玩笑而已。就在几天前,他们曾亲眼看到有个赶骡人误遭一个民兵部队政治代表的意外伤害:政治代表用自动手枪戏弄赶骡人,结果让这个倒霉蛋的肺部钻进了五粒子弹。

在这一段时间里,我们这支部队所使用的很难记住的口令,也是一个不大不小的危险之源。那是一种毫无实际意义的双重口令,一个单词必须与另一个单词相呼应。口令通常使用那些令人振奋和充满革命精神的词汇,比如Cultura(文明)—progreso(发展),或Seremos—invencibles(不可战胜的),一般地说,要想让那些不识字的哨兵记住这些傲气十足的词汇基本上是不太可能的。我记得,有个晚上的口令是Cataluna(加泰罗尼亚)—heroica(英勇的),一个名叫海梅?多梅内奇的圆脸农家少年走近我,满面困惑地要求我加以解释。

“Heroica——heroica是什么意思?”

我告诉他,它和valiente(勇敢的)的意思一样。没过多久,当这位少年正在黑暗的壕沟中蹒跚而行时,哨兵喝道:

“Alto(站住)!Cataluna!”

“Valiente!”海梅叫道,他确信自己回答的是正确口令。

砰!

幸好,哨兵没有打中他。在这场战争中,每个人也许都曾误会和错怪过其他人,这是情有可原的。