I Was Not There


I was not there in Arras being shot at by the snipers
I wasn’t smashed half-back to Blighty by Artillery fire at ‘Wipers’
I didn’t see my closest pals get blown to Kingdom come
Then try and raise my tattered spirits with one lousy tot of rum

I wasn’t pushed into a stinking trench to fight a dirty war
I wasn’t cast into the slaughter; the mud; the blood; the gore
With my demise or my survival boiling down to luck and draw
And I’m too terrified to visualize the sights of Hell you saw!!

I didn’t leave a factory, nor a desk job at the bank
To be marched into machine gun fire traversing from the flank
I wasn’t bleeding on the razor wire, nor deafened by the noise
Whilst being led by shocked and frightened men – themselves naught more than boys

I didn’t face towards the morning sun and feel my blood turn cold
Was not churned into Britain’s history – just 17 years’ old
I didn’t stumble over Flanders Fields to meet my bloody death
I never whimpered for my mother with my desperate dying breath

I do not lie out there in Tyne Cot beneath a cold white stone
A one-line epitaph from Kipling – my identity… ‘Unknown’
I wasn’t perished by the malice of a brutal enemy
I sauntered over Passchendaele unscathed, unscarred and free

I didn’t walk towards machine guns firing Hell for Leather
I went there on a coach and I complained about the weather!
I wasn’t on the killing fields, I wasn’t in a war
I was eating fillet steak and drinking 1664

For I have been to hear your story, I’ve stood beside your grave
I’ve stared across the Somme in wonder at the sacrifice you gave
I travelled from a land of liberty – the one you died to save
You and all the other paladins – the fearful and the brave

The Battlefields are pastures now, no trace of Hell is there
The screams of death have ebbed away, there’s birdsong in the air
The landscape is a vibrant green, not dead and dark with mud
For like us, those fields have been redeemed by previous British blood

A century’s now passed – your great repute has still remained
Alongside our greatest pantheons – your legend is ingrained
Although I never knew you, I remember you in prayer
But I can’t hold a candle to you… because I was not there!!


Copyright©Mac McFadden 2016


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