I was horribly afraid of dying
and if I'm honest, many times I wanted my mum.
Fred said, 'Don't be a sissy.' He was brave,
but men were falling all about me;
many to an instant death, others blinded,
'Dear God, my eyes, my eyes!'
The whole time, I kept thinking - I'm next!
or, wondering - will I lay there gasping
amid the din of explosions, shells shattering
my eardrums, whilst screaming for my sight?
I was buried on one occasion,
but clawed my way out only to find the world
obscured in mist and smoke. I choked
and made out through the fugged up air
the sight of bits of bodies and equipment
straggled all about the bloodied muddy earth.
Then Fred said, 'Let's get out of here!'
He was shaking and staggering like a drunk -
running - after a fashion,
looking so comical I was still laughing
as I saw him drop.
I shivered, shocked for a full ten minutes
before I came to my senses, and like so many
of my mates that day, Fred was lost.
They gave me a medal for bravery,
but really, I never felt very brave -
I just stayed alive.