They marched off with no idea of those forthcoming horrors
For many, many thousands there would never be tomorrows
They were summoned, without a choice, off they had to go
They were simply fodder to the big field guns that bellow.
Men who only yesterday were working on the farm
Sent out to shoot down other men who’d never done them harm
Young men who’d risen to answer the nation’s clarion call
Went to The Somme and Ypres to simply die and fall.
The nightmare that were trenches, the cries into the night
The black lines through the letters home to cover-up the plight
The new men just conscripted who died on that same day
Who fell from a hail of bullets before their very first pay.
The young soldier who was killed at the point of a vicious knife
The sad telegram the captain sent to his new and pregnant wife
The horror there was for one man as he had to kill another
Standing next to a stranger now, a man he calls a brother.
The smell of the smouldering cordite that lingers everywhere
Accompanies the terrible stench in this deathly sad nightmare
The brutal noise that deafens, that damages your ears
Fearing cowardice charges most young men hide their fears.
Men started this obscenity in quiet, comfortable rooms
They never do the dying nor end up in white war tombs
But they will take all the glory that any victory can afford
That surely is for those beneath that lonely foreign sward.
One in a group of poems recognising the centenary of WWI