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22 March 2013

Deserters


We were getting new recruits
sixteen and seventeen years of age
when we had to do this attack

The two youngsters were crying
It was such a shock
We moved up to the attack
They had cleared off
three or four miles from the action

They were brought back and charged
The verdict of the court was read out
The two young men had deserted
They were going to be shot at dawn

The two young men
were brought out
to a yard
blindfolded

Fire at the head
At the heart

The chances were
they would be killed instantly
As of course they were

The four men who had to shoot them
were sick with it all
There was sympathy for the boys
but more for their parents

We lived with it all
for days
weeks

I can see it all now




Taken from Forgotten Voices of the Great War by Max Arthur (Ebury Press, 2002), p.203f. The poem is taken from the words of Private William Holmes, 12th Battalion, London Regiment. Submitted by Lisa Oliver.

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