A War Poem by Bob Shepherd
Every year around this time I get very sentimental.
My birthday is on 13th November…always close to Remembrance Day. If I’m home in the UK, I’ll share a moment with my good mates at St Martins church graveyard in Hereford.
They always listen to what I have to say, and they never butt in.
If I’m overseas, I’ll try to find a quiet spot to take a moment to reflect.
The birthdays I’ve had while living here in America, I’ve walked out into the garden in the evenings with a wee whiskey…looked to the sky…and said “cheers.” I’ll do that again this year as I can still celebrate my birthday, but my mates can’t.
When I was growing up as a young lad in Scotland, I remember listening to WW1 veterans, great uncles, their mates and others. I remember their tones…quiet, and oh so humble. I listened to WW2 veterans too, the very same…quiet, and oh so humble. When I joined the military and went across to the SAS Regt, I was honoured to meet and talk with a good handful of the originals. I met David Stirling the founder of the Regt. I served with men who cut their teeth in such campaigns as Malaya, Radfan, Borneo and Oman.
I tell myself that it’s a great time to be alive…having met and served with such awesome individuals, having the pleasure to listen to them, learn from them, and try ever so hard to be just like them.
People much younger than me have to read about them or see them in documentaries.
This year though…100 years from the end of WW1…
…the closer it gets, the more I think about it. Maybe because I’m getting old, maybe because I met them, maybe because I fought and observed conflict for the best part of my life, maybe because I lost comrades who I still miss, maybe because I care and appreciate what they gave in their short life?
This November it’s been 100 years
Since young soldiers dried away their tears
Marching home from victory to pride
But all along, they were hurting deep inside
The war to end all wars it was said
But that was never really put to bed
Another war of blood and guts
From the air, the sea
Taking cover in the ruts
I was once a soldier in more modern times
Conflict is still here across all lines
I laughed, I cried, I stared, I grinned
Through the heat and the cold
The still and the wind
I’ll never forget my mates left and right
Our aim to be one, and to never lose sight
Now I’m older and have time to reflect
It hurts to think of war’s effect
Whatever the reason, we’re human on all sides
I’m sure we could just talk and heal the divides
I wear a poppy upon my breast
As I stand alone, pushing out my chest
For all the wars’ dead is what my poppy is for
Especially the men and women of the First World War.