When last you called my name I wasn’t there
My soul is flown, spread fine across the wind
Cast up towards the stars yet freed from pain
Lost to human life and blown beyond repair.
So when you in tears sit choking on the stair
And press my image to your faltering heart
Think not that I, willing, have flown from you
When having called my name, I am not there.
Fevered, floundering mud the dying clawed
No more clogs my annihilated, boyish limbs
Since I from you am parted, freely leaping
Unbodied now and formless, seek the Lord.
A soldier boy was I at Passchendaele
Now vapour in a moistly spattering hail.
(This boy was unmade at Passchendaele and is no more.)
Out from the shadows the marching men
Thumbs up and laughing passed by
But I feared as I lived I’d not see ’em again
They’d been sent to this place just to die.
For these were our boys in youthful blush
With ammo strapped hard to their chests
Marching as one they passed in a rush
While Death smiles and never protests.
In alarm came the rattle of returning souls
Death prodding onward his charred brigade
This is the place where the scythe patrols
And I wept for I was sore dismayed.
Then Death returned and spat bile in my face
In triumph at the betrayal of our human race.
The Third Battle of Ypres, now known as Passchendaele, followed the Somme
into inglorious annals for the fearful killing and wounding of so many of
our boys* and young men serving on the Western Front exactly 100 years ago.
Ten battalions of The King’s Regt [Liverpool] fought at Passchendaele, along
with so many other regiments of the British Army.
The battle involved millions of troops from both sides fighting for Passchendaele
Ridge and surrounding areas from 31st July until 10th November 1917.
Casualty figures were truly appalling, with the British and Germans together losing
In excess of 500,000 troops killed and wounded. Virtually nothing was gained
yet so many were lost.
May those who perpetrated this vile horror, from both sides, be swathed in guilt
and infamy for evermore.
* Many 14-year-olds served at the Front, including the father of a family friend
who was trained, sent to the front, received a shrapnel head wound
and was repatriated home all before his 15th birthday!