WW1. The Army is Recruiting.
In 1914, the Army was visiting
Villages, looking for strong young
Lads. Necessary, for the War Effort.
They had to be strong lads, with a
Certain height and chest measurement.
Selecting the Villages best.
Parents happily signed forms.
Their son was ‘Doing his bit.’
Excited sons, looking forward to going.
The day came, A Band arrived to lead
The teenaged sons away from home.
Proud boys followed the band.
Trains took boys to camp,
For Basic Training. Officers taught
The boys to March and to ‘Know their place.’
Wearing new but ill-fitting Uniforms, nervous
New Recruits wondered what awaited
Across the English Channel in France.
‘It will be over by Christmas.’
Rang in their ears, anxious now,
Of thoughts of all left behind.
Landing in France, then marching,
Marching into the War Zones.
Bolstering up each other’s courage.
They cannot have imagined what
War was, or meant. The tree-less
Countryside, the Trenches and noise.
Going forward to Front Lines, to go
‘Over the top!’, their fears, the smell.
The knowledge that this day could be a last.
Death, destruction, demoralised and
Distressed boy soldiers remembered
Mum’s dinners and apple pie.
Unable to cope with the lack of comfort,
Some poor distraught boys ran away.
Not meaning to desert but getting out.
The sick and frightened children were
Captured, returned to base, tried and
Sentenced to be Shot at Dawn.
Officers chose their Pals or colleagues
To join the Firing Squads and pull the triggers.
The Order was given, Bang! A boy dies.
Of those boys left behind, hopes and spirits
Die too, never to rise again. This War, that
Begun as an adventure turned to destruction.
What did the once proud parents and
Villagers feel like when they were
Informed the Village boys were
Shot at Dawn,
For Cowardice or Desertion.