I just want to spare a moment for those who had no choice but to go to war. They couldn’t be conscientious objectors – they were not allowed to be. they too died, too many of them, and at times without even a care. I am talking about the animals dragged into mans conflict. they too deserve to be remembered.
Many would echo those sentiments, especially the young today, who may feel it’s ‘old stuff’ But its part of the old stuff that actually matters. To look down the barrel of a gun, some lads only 16 years old (they lied to die for their country.) and to take another man’s life… It wasn’t a computer game, it was real. So should we remember them, I say hell yes. My grandfather was in the First World War. apparently he never spoke about it:
“Some things you just don’t talk about.” he would say.
So to all the youth out there in the world, just remember you are here today because of them.
Lest we forget
Poppy petals waft in the breeze,
Like soldiers lined up, but standing at ease,
Their crimson petal’s all aglow,
Reminding us of, graves in a row.
Thousands fell in those fields,
Where flowers blew gently in the breezes,
And now in those fields, their ghosts roam,
Far away and unable to go home.
And as poppies sway in the fields,
They remind us how good may never yield,
Those crimson red flowers represent today,
The terrible price those men had to pay.
Such simple flowers, of pretty red,
On this day, representing the dead
Of all the wars man’s stupidly started,
Today our reminder of soldiers departed.
So at the 11th hour on the 11th day,
Take a moment to remember to say,
Thank you on this November morn,
To all those fallen so we may be born.
“We had a sort of truce on Christmas Day, and we were out in between the two trenches talking to one another. A German officer gave me two cigars, which were very good, and the men exchanged good wishes and smokes, etc. They told us that they didn’t want to fight us, as they had no grudge against us. They were mostly young fellows, and the officer was only about 21 years of age, and said he had only seen one year’s service. Nearly all the Germans spoke English, and there was one there about 12 years old and also one or two old men with bald heads, and one or two in civilian dress, so you can see they are rather a mixed crowd. It hardly seems credible, does it, but I saw it with my own eyes.” ~ unknown officer from the 8th division
It seems almost unthinkable now, as we look back at modern warfare, where war stops for no man. But that was a different age. there were actually three men killed that day. A young British (Pvt Percy Huggins.) a sentry was killed by a German sniper (Name unknown). His place was taken by a British sniper (Sargent Tom Gregory) who in turn spotted the German sniper and killed him. Just as he spotted the second German sniper he was killed by the same snipers bullet as he had spotted him first. there were a further 149 Commonwealth servicemen who passed away that Christmas Day from previous injuries. (And surely many Germans too.) However it goes down in history as the Christmas Truce.
Too lightly on life’s scales, compassion weighs.
It was quiet on that day…
Once all the smoke and dust had settled,
I could even hear the birds singing.
Unlike today, today there is no silence, only continuous noise!!
Then it all stopped, just for a while…
There ahead of us we could see them, not more than a few hundred yards separated us.
They gazed back, no doubt with similar thoughts.
Today we just keep on loading and firing … loading and firing!!
Then from somewhere a ball appeared,
And we both started to climb out of our trenches,
Mud caking stiff limbs up to our knees, feet long since numb from the cold.
They are your enemy…. kill….. kill….. kill!!
We walked right up to each other, stopping only inches apart and stared into each other’s eyes,
I took his hand in mine as if he were a long lost friend,
And we smiled.
If you don’t kill him, he will kill you!!
I broke a small bar of chocolate and shared it with him,
He in turn, took out a picture and showed it to me, a woman holding a baby,
His wife and son.
What are you waiting for, destroy, maim, kill!!
Then we advanced into the no-man’s land that separated us,
and for which we had been fighting for for weeks now,
We played soccer,
Before finally coming together to sing carols.
Death….. death …….. death all around me!!
That day so long ago now was Christmas Day 1914,
The birth day of Christ And a time to give thanks.
Today it is Good Friday 1915 The death of Christ But today there is no peace,
no truce, no rejoicing no time.
Today I killed the soldier whose hand I had shaken and child I had seen,
Today I cried for him and what I have done, and for all humanity,
For today there is no time to morn Christ on this day of his death.
In 1914 we remembered his birth,
By 1915 there is no time to remember his death, or our redemption,
Today, too lightly on Life’s Scales, Compassion Weighs.
How did they while away their hours of boredom in the flee hoping, rat infested trenches. We watch films that glorify war, make it clean and tidy, but the reality was very different. Death, stench, decay.
Hours drifting into days, boredom and complacency the greatest enemy.
Staring at Infinity
On a dew laden morning,
As the sun tries to creep through;
Along the edge of an autumn leaf
A perfectly formed droplet reflects the blue sky.
As one gazes into its eternal depth
It becomes clear that I am staring at infinity,
As it stars back at me.
A cacophony of memories past, present and still in the future, flash before me,
Tumbling at the edge of my awareness
Gnawing at my consciousness
Reflections sparkle with morning freshness,
Like a crystal shard,
Thousands of repeated images bouncing back at me.
Windows into worlds unknown,
Universe of my imagination waiting to be freed.
Is my future here, in a dew drop?
Mine a myriads of others
Who have shared this same view,
All staring at time with no end.
The movement of a nearby blackbird
Disturbs the tranquillity
And the moment is lost forever,
As the droplet plummets to the permanence of earth.
My view into this other world,
Remaining only in the glimpse of my last memory,
And leaving me only to question
Those who did come home were changed forever. but too many never reached their home shores again. I like on Armistice Day to particularly remember those who never came home.
Here I will sit for all eternity
It’s cold…… ice cold,
Lichens cover it completely, it’s so old;
Letters and numbers carved into its face,
Lined up like soldiers, alone in this place.
I sit cross legged in front of one stone,
Until I realize, I sit here alone;
The grass beneath me is soft, cool damp moss,
As I gaze at the letters lying under the cross.
Staring at a name; in fact it’s my name
When suddenly I realize, that’s why I came
To look at the carvings cut deep in the stone,
And comprehend that name, that name is my own.
I sit here each day, not aware of the time,
But knowing the flowers by the graveside are mine.
Murdered and killed in the pouring rain,
Now I know how I was slain.
For I was taken ahead of my time,
Cut down by a gun at the height of my prime,
The trigger was pulled with no remorse,
I fought hard to live, but in the end died of course.
It was raining that day, the day that I died,
When men wept for comrades, and the women they cried,
The battlefield ran with rivers of blood,
And dead bodies piled in high in a human flood
It’s quiet now as I sit in front of this tombstone,
With a name carved upon it, a name that’s my own.
The graveyard’s now called a War Cemetery,
And here I will sit for all eternity.
LEST WE FORGET – he never came home
Women too went to war. Yes not always on the front, but there were some who did. Brave women who risked their lives alongside their male counterparts. NURSES.
AND MAKING MUNITIONS
They all went to war, British, Canadian, South African, Turks, Indians, Germans, Russians, Aussies and New Zealanders. Not all returned. The futile carnage on both side was just madness.
Futility of War
Blood flows though the battlefields of time,
each drop shed,
another life lost to the inhumanity of man against man.
Time has born witness to all of man’s wars,
each battle a circle as men strive to out flank,
out manoeuvre, out kill their enemy.
In the beginning, weapons were simple…..
…. a blade to cut and thrust
…. an arrow to fly fast and true
But with the passage to time –
…. cannons, guns, grenades, bombs, missiles, rockets;
…. and with it?
Dirt; disease; distress and death!
Until a red river flows right to our doorstep,
touching all our lives, as it steals away our loved ones,
the very essence of our souls sucked dry as we fight against fellow brother.
The blood of the youth, staining the hands of all who play a part in this Ideal of Victory!
And where shall it lead us?
Where shall it stop?
100 years ago the WW1 was half over. boys languished in the trenches. Promises of it’ll all be over by Christmas, but a distant memory. We should never forget our past for it will guide us to our future.
I am going to blog a number of poems I wrote and wish to share in memory of the fallen, on all sides. they were all son’s, husbands, brothers.
A puff of smoke plumes into the air,
As muskets fire shots across the valley.
The ‘enemy’ returns fire without a care,
And there is a short gunfire rally
That cuts down all who have not found cover,
Leaving dead – friend; son; father and brother.
Clouds of smoke from nearby canon hangs in the air
As one brave soldier rises from his lair,
Brandishing his musket with bayonet attached,
He’s last seen vanishing as he makes his attack.
He disappears into the cool, mist hung morn,
Just as the day is about to dawn.
More guns fire in the ensuing battle,
As generals shout tactics along the line
And wave after wave of young men descend like cattle
Into the affray, not afraid to die.
Thoughts of loved ones filling their minds eye
As the light of their souls drift up to the sky.
Trees and tents rise mysteriously above the haze,
As a young soldier staggers out of the smoke in a daze.
“They’re all dead!” he shouts sinking to his knees to cry,
The young, best of our men folk, sent to die.
Needless deaths for the gain of a few square feet
Of land on a hillside, that none will keep.
And just as the battle starts to wane,
Droplets fall as it begins to rain
And streams of blood trickle from the dead,
Gathering into riverlets and puddles of red,
And the dreams of the youth are forever lost,
And the dreams of a nation, oh at what cost.
The battle is lost, the battle is won,
As evening’s arms envelop the wounded and maimed,
The moans and cries of pain; the results of a gun;
Can be heard across the campsite, but no-one is blamed,
For this is war and the best of the best are sent to fight,
For in the end OUR COUNTRY is always right.
And in years to come, this hillside will be
A place for ancestors to come and see
Where fallen fore-fathers shed their lives,
So today we may be safe, husbands and wives,
And the children play on mounds; graves of the dead;
Who only have flowers to share in their bed.
And who shall remember all of their names,
The brave young soldiers who fought for what’s right,
Away from their homes, villages and lanes,
Where they had marched proudly off to fight,
Expecting to return safely back home,
But now they’re all lost, now they’re all gone.
In distant battlefields, now are heard only birds cries,
Where once was the scene of last breaths as he dies;
Another young soldier gone from our grasp,
Like many to come, he won’t be the last,
And in the distance, a drum beat mourns
And a bagpipe plays alone and forlorn.