Robert Graves: War’s ultimate victors, the rats
From Good-Bye to All That (1929)
The first trenches we went into on arrival were the Cuinchy brick-stacks…
Cuinchy-bread rats. They came up from the canal, fed on the plentiful corpses, and multiplied exceedingly. While I fought here with the Welsh, a new officer joined the Company and, in token of welcome, was given a dug-out containing a spring-bed. When he turned in that night, he heard a scuffling, shone his torch on the bed, and found two rats on his blanket tussling for the possession of a severed hand…
We planned our rushes from shell-hole to shell-hole, the opportunities being provided by artillery or machine-gun fire, which would distract the sentries. Many of the craters contained the corpses of men who had been wounded and crept in there to die. Some were skeletons, picked clean by the rats.