Monday, 7 July 2014
Following my recent post on Armed Forces Day, a poem by Siegfried Sassoon.
The trenches of the First World War were a vast area of darkness and danger, dank and miserable conditions, often infested with rats who ate the flesh of the dead. The stench of unwashed humanity, all squashed together, combined with the smell of rotting flesh, and overflowing latrines, and the lingering smell of death and battle on accounts must have been unbearable.
Siegfried Sassoon witnessed all this and came to see and understand the futility of conflict. In the following poem, the line ' No one spoke of him again.' illustrates how many soldiers at the time found dead in the trenches at the time were simply forgotten. All his suffering, erased, because death which occurred in such vast numbers simply merged into one. Over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded in what is considered to be mong the deadliest of
conflicts in human history.
We should not forget the 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were shot on the orders of the military top brass, many suffering from shell shock, and what is now known as Post Traumatic Stress. Charged with desertion after becoming dazed and confused, young disturbed, traumatised teenagers some of them , who had simply volunteered for duty.
Many other soldiers during the First World War were driven to suicide, or left with mental exhaustion, depression and shell shock because of this war.
It has taken time, but the stigma of mental health issues caused by conflict are very real indeed. In the end no glory in war, only sadness, this is how I choose to remember. This why humanity too, should not forget the barbarity and futility that the world has ever known.
Suicide in the Trenches
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy.
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark.
And whistled early with the lark.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,.
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by.
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.
Posted by teifidancer at 12:16