t’s 100 years today since the end of the Somme, the cruelest, most senseless sacrifice of brave men fighting for the old lie:
- Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.
- It is good and noble to die for one’s country – is it ballocks! [sic]
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
The medals were awarded to my great uncle’s widow who twenty years later adopted my father. The parish priest Fr Henshaw who held the service at the military funeral in #Rochdale became Bishop Henshaw and my brother and I attended the school named after him. My grandfather was a founding member of #SinnFein and my father was adopted when his mother died. My uncles were abused in the care system. My father, 87 next month is abused by the system almost daily. The #abuse must stop.