Where Once There Was Hope: Profound Words and Images of War: Volume Two: WW1: Slaughter and Tales from The Front.
Tales from the Front.
It's nobody's Duty to follow fools!
Where Once There Was Hope: Profound Words and Images of War: Volume Two: WW1: Tales from The Front; by Pearldiver. Hope; the fleeting dreams that were lost to an entire generation whose amazing, profound words and images have lasted throughout time and beyond those who captured such images that demanded wisdom not only provide commentary of, but also the assurance that such shameful crimes not occur again.
This is Volume Two of a series called: Where Once There Was Hope: Profound Words and Images of War. The scene is a divided and broken Western Front of 1914 – 1918, where Europe is ravaged by World War One. This war has been referred to as the Great War, not for its grandeur; as grandeur of such events, can only be measured by those with a vested interest, or a grandiose obsession. Sadly; to the power brokers and outmoded generals of the day, this war was indeed a great one and sold to the masses as being, a great adventure.
Like most, I had family who took part in the great adventure of WW1. I have life as a result of a family member surviving the entire war, while his brothers and friends, paid the ultimate sacrifice in unknown far away fields, in a far away time. When I was young I was told about the fallen brothers and about this thing called war, which I could not comprehend at the time. This series is a tribute to every young soul who lived or died through this thing called war; which as a man, I still can not comprehend! Those who served and those who suffered also could not comprehend the Great War! Only the driven politicians and their commanders, arrogant and self serving; like Douglas Haig, comprehended this war and they did so, over dinner and a brandy, while an entire generation was decimated, by the millions! Can you comprehend this war?
I hope that you find this article worthy of those who captured time with their profound words in poetry and images that were withheld from the next generations, in the hope that such events would go unnoticed. This is not about who was or was not an enemy, or who fought on the right or wrong side in the Great War. This is about the betrayal of the entire generation, by those who had and abused the power to influence the outcome for all, irrespective of nationality, or belief. Both sides sold the adventure to their fittest and healthiest, that it was their duty to die when called upon to do so! I don’t comprehend that either, do you?
General Warning: Many of the photos here contain the sight of dead bodies and suffering. If the graphic nature of these images offends you then please appreciate how much better life is; when honesty and openness are not compromised! - *Author*
Ypres... historically, war has visited here many times.
5 Star Shell Hole Lodgings.
* Aftermath *
Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz—
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench—
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, 'Is it all going to happen again?'
remember that hour of din before the attack—
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads— those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.
* Siegfried Sassoon 1919 * (British)
We bury our gentle blokes, like worthless sacks.
* Gentle Blokes and Sacks *
In our country town I used to call Tom, a gentle bloke
He raised sheep and we hunted red deer stags
Well we mates all turned up and got turned out
And then all came here carrying different flags
They reckon that we are now, all fighting men
But there is not much fight in a bayoneted sack
I wonder if killing sacks, can change gentle blokes
I wonder how hard those real sacks, do fight back
You know they told us, if the bayonet sticks
Then we pull the trigger, kick and pull away
I thank god we will only bayonet and kick, enemy sacks
And not men like us gentle blokes here, at play
They say we Anzacs are just a disobedient mob
But they tell us not the jobs, they want us to do
They expect us to salute, shut up and just do it
Yet we achieved every objective that, we all knew
I’m sorry Edith that the letters take so long to write
But you know a man of few words, I have always been
And we have been to Gallipoli and back since I started
That was hell for us gentle blokes and all we have seen
At Anzac Cove and on the ridge, we found out what real sacks can do
They scream, they shoot, they fight hard and like us blokes, are slain
Bloody sacks for gentle blokes killed; Turkish machine guns firing true
Many mates lost there and now, we are here fighting Germans, in the rain
Today we can swear at those gutless generals, "Jack your war is not a game!"
Sacks shoot at high flying ducks, with eighteen pounds of lead
It is raining here at the Front somewhere north of west of south
Blessed we are, no longer gentle blokes or sacks, all lying here dead
Edith, you know how much I love you, please tell our boy I love him too
Edith, we are not coming home from here, will you visit me and Tom one day?
You know, Germans bayonet sacks just like us, fire, kick and pull away
And we all get buried, like worthless sacks, all we gentle blokes at play
* Thomas Robert Hunter 1916 * (Anzac)
(© Held by author's trust)
The best of German youth followed fools too...
When is enough Enough?
* The Immortals *
I killed them, but they would not die.
Yea! all the day and all the night
For them I could not rest or sleep,
Nor guard from them nor hide in flight.
Then in my agony I turned
And made my hands red in their gore.
In vain - for faster than I slew
They rose more cruel than before.
I killed and killed with slaughter mad;
I killed till all my strength was gone.
And still they rose to torture me,
For Devils only die in fun.
I used to think the Devil hid
In women’s smiles and wine’s carouse.
I called him Satan, Balzebub.
But now I call him, dirty louse.
* Isaac Rosenberg 1918 * (Jewish)
Come the Reaper.
The Recruiters were told to use every emotion in the sell.
* Over By Christmas *
Sorry, but we left the harsh war stories buried somewhere
Perhaps in the softness of downy pillows over there
Oh yes we lived amid the mud, the gore and the pain
But nothing compares to the bad claret served on a second class train
Be over by Christmas, they told us, just you wait and see
And young boys will come home as men, footloose and fancy free
Fuss not over their rations; we have army chefs you know
In France they make a good brandy; that will make them grow
Each week they get their pay and spend it yes they will
After we have deducted tax, board and lodgings, from their bill
Look at how happy and proud my soldiers are, all ready to leave
We will give the Hun a jolly good show; to make their mothers grieve
So kiss quick my darling, I must go, my first commission calls
Be sure to visit with mother and I’ll see her when first snow falls
Must dash my darling; tally ho, duty calls and all that cheer
Yes, I have my flask and pinch of snuff; I will send for you, my dear
We left the softness of our lives and stories buried somewhere
Perhaps in the rat infested, putrid trenches, or in the years spent there
Oh yes we lived in luxury, square meals in the mess, with wine
But what compares to boyish NCOs, ordering grown men to die, in a line?
* Thomas Robert Hunter 1919 * (Anzac)
(© Held by author's trust)
Other Great War Poetry.
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Great War Photography.
Which of These Poems?
Which of these poems in your view did you find the most moving?See results without voting
The Poets Remembered Here.
*Siegfried Lorraine Sassoon*
Second Lieutenant Siegfried Sassoon served both in Palestine and France, attached to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was a realist who cared for his men and was angered by the deceit of the commanders. He won a Military Cross, cited for his actions in getting his dead and wounded men back to the Allied trenches. Wounded twice, while convalescing shoulder and upper arm wounds, he courageously wrote and had published his famous 'Soldier's Declaration of Wilful Defiance' after which he was claimed to have been Shell Shocked. Perhaps the upholding of which, saved his life and the careers of Haig and staff.
*Thomas Robert Hunter*
Private Thomas Robert Hunter turned down promotion, apparently so that he would not have to eat at an Officer's Mess with many whom the fighting men considered to be fools. In reality, it was probably more a question of him not wanting to be separated from his comrades. Anzacs all swore that they would always look out for their mates! That was a tradition born during the Boar War and has been honored since. He based the opinion on the number of friends and countrymen that he witnessed the slaughter of in Gallipoli, France and Belgium. I am told that he was a private man and also a realist, best known by friends for his wit, steely determination and love of (ironically) hunting. The poetry of this Anzac was found in his diaries and has remained unpublished, at the request of his family, who have also requested that this very talented man retains the anonymity and privacy they feel he would have preferred. As such, his surname has been changed here, per agreement and per those wishes.
* Isaac Rosenberg *
Private Isaac Rosenberg was initially turned down for service with the British Army on the basis that he was too short and did not have good health. By October 1915, however the British Army were far more 'flexible' in that they needed recruits to fill the spaces created in the killing fields of the Somme. Finally accepted, he was attached to The 'Bantams' Battalion, created solely to accommodate those outside of the original standards! He survived two and a half years on the front and during this time wrote prolifically poetry that was described as 'common,' yet years later became recognized for it's uniqueness. Sadly, he never saw that day, as he joined the thousands of other wasted lives, being killed on April Fool's Day 1918 in one of the battles for Arras. Though his body was never found; it is widely believed that he lies in one of the several war grave sites near St. Laurant - Blangy.
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If you have read this page and the poetry above and enjoyed the content, could you please take a second of your life to rate the poems here in the poll (above right). By doing so, you are helping the author compile a future project that will honor yet another group of World War One poets, many of whom gave up their lives, a sacrifice that allowed a future generation to write about their pain and have that part of history read and remembered.
Thank you greatly for that..
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