Wednesday, 12 February 2014


(With apologies to Grey)
A six-inch tolls the knell of parting day.
The transport cart winds slowly o’er the lea.
A sapper homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to Wipers and to me.

Now fades the glimmering star shell from the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds;
Save where a whizz-bang howls its rapid flight,
And “five pounds rapid” fill the distant folds.

Beneath the Ramparts old and grim and grey,
In earthy sap, and casement cool and deep;
Each in his canvas cubicle and bay,
The men condemned to Wipers soundly sleep.

Full many a men would venture out by day,
Deceived by what he thinks a quiet spell;
Till to a crump he nearly falls a prey,
And into neighbouring cellar bolts like hell.

A burning mountain belching forth its fire,
A sandstorm in the desert in full fling;
Or Hades with its lid prised off entire,
Is naught to dear old Wipers in the Spring.

No more we’ll share the same old barn,
The same old dug-out, same old yarn,
No more a tin of bully share,
Nor share our rum by a star –shell’s flare,
So long old lad.

What times we’ve had both good and bad,
We’ve shared what shelter could be had,
The same crump-hole when the whizz -bangs shrieked,
The same old billet that always leaked,
And now – you’ve 'stopped one.'

We’d weathered the storm two winters long,
We’d managed to grin when all went wrong,
Because we fought and fed,
Our hearts were light; but now – you’re dead
And I am Mateless.

Well, old lad, here’s peace to you,
And for me, well, there’s my job to do,
For you and the others who lie at rest,
Assured may be that we’ll do our best
In vengeance.

Just one more cross by a strafed road-side,
With its G.R.C.; and a name for guide,
But it’s only myself who has lost a friend,
And though I may fight through to the end,
No dug-out or billet will be the same,
All pals can only be pals in name,
But we’ll all carry on till the end of the game
Because you lie there.

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