A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Summary of Part 8 (Chapters 28 - 32)

As Lieutenant, Henry is in charge of a group of ambulance drivers in retreat. They are to convey the hospital equipment into Udine. However, the chaos of the retreat has taken over the road, and the ambulances are caught in a column of peasant cars and war vehicles, unable to move. Henry decides to turn off the main road, and the group boldly takes to the side roads. Behind them, they hear the Austrians bombing the main road.

Not far from Udine, the ambulances get stuck in the mud. Afraid that the Austrians will overtake them, two sergeants who had been riding along flee. Henry manages to shoot one of them. Continuing on foot, Henry and the three remaining drivers spot German troops all over the road and realize Udine has been taken. The group flees south, during which time one of the drivers is shot by the Italian rear-guard and another runs off to surrender himself.

Finally, Henry and Piani (the remaining member of the group) meet up with a column of retreating troops. There, Henry is spotted by the battle police, who believe him to be a German in an Italian uniform. The battle police are busy executing all officers they find separated from their troops, declaring that "It is because of treachery such as yours that we have lost the fruits of victory." Before he is executed, though, Henry manages to escape into a nearby river and follows the current downstream. When he reaches a shore hours later, he jumps onto a train and hides under the canvas.