A poem I wrote last year for a first world war event at Liverpool Museum. Thought I would be apt today as the centenary memorials are happening in France. It describes the events of local men (PALS) being encouraged to fight the war.
Call to Arms
It seems so long ago, since I’d heard that rousing call
As we stood such young boys, at Saint Georges Hall
Lord Derby encouraging; Make your city proud!
Many men’s beating hearts, stirring, in the crowd
We were Pals, part of the regiment of the Kings
So proud to do our duty, protect our nearest kin.
Together we have battled, through mire and cannon ball
Together we have carried our comrades when they fall
We won the fight at Montauban, and sent those Germans packing
Two hundred Scouse boys paid the price, but still we kept attacking.
Moving on to Guillermont, five hundred more are slain
Our blackest day in this hell, in the driving rain
Stench of rotting flesh, lingers in the air
Once stirring hearts of those young men now filled with despair.
Lice and rats run over us, oblivious to this horror
Taking opportunities, in this overwhelming squalor.
The battle of Transloy Ridges, two hundred plus mown down
Though we the pals of Liverpool, live to fight another dawn.
Mud and bullets all around, bombs upon us rained
Men screaming, maimed and dying; with eyes of the deranged.
We cling on to our memories of home and family,
Which keeps us pressing on and on, in this murderous spree.
Air becomes heavy; our sergeant gives a shout;
Pull down your masks lad’s, there is gas about
I didn’t hear the shell; I just felt the searing pain
Pals around me writhed and screamed as if they’d gone insane
I took your photo from my pocket, gazed upon your face
Felt the warmth of your arms, lovingly embrace
Is this real? Can it be true? Are you really here?
In this tormented hell you took away my fear.
Awoken in the hospital, shrapnel in my thigh
I’m sure you came and saved me and kept my soul alive.