Sunday, 8 November 2009

Remembrance Day

We Will Remember Them

Another soldier was killed in Helmand province yesterday. He was part of the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles serving with 4th Battalion, The Rifles. His death bring the toll to 231.

In an hour's time the majority of the UK will acknowledge the sacrifice, willingly given, by so many in WW1, WW2 and various conflicts and wars since.

Let us also remember those families who were never the same again, having lost someone most dear to them and tolerated the loss quietly. Often I wish many families had spoken up about their suffering because then perhaps the people would realise just how much our armed forces contribute to this nation. They are there when firemen strike, when the police have problems, when health care workers decide to withdraw their labour and for thousands of other 'small' but not unimportant tasks which help keep these islands safe and sound.

This year I trust many of us will also spare a few moments to think about the injured from these wars. Their lives and and the lives of those close to them, have changed forever. Do we hear them complain?

A Soldier's Question.

We know at home we are quite truly known,
As those who can and do obey, for that is what we do.
Also at home are they who send us here and they who know we must obey.
For we are their protectors and their way must so be ours.
For we obey.

So in the searing heat of all around,
The sound of guns and moans of pain,
The further endless cries "This is the way"
By ugly sirens asking of us all,
Nought but that we must obey.

I ask you politician,Sir, is in your soul,
A thought as ugly as this war?
For when we do just as you say, and fight because we must obey,
You do not seem to have the pain,
Nor lose the friend that we must, in vain,
Attempt to save from your mistakes and egos train.

This dark place of home grown fate is not our dwelling place.
That lies far beyond this land of ancient ways and awful strife.
We do our best in sand and searing heat,
For all the things our masters say,
So, as our limbs and lives are blown away,
All that is left is that we must obey.

One question left for us to ask, from all this clever, fatal grey,
Of spin and secrets no one may yet gainsay,
To whom do you, flawed leaders, answer to?
To whom is it you ought or should obey?
We doubt your debt is n'ere as bloody as the one that we must pay.

The poem is courtesy of OldRightie


Oldrightie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oldrightie said...

Subrosa, I'm off shortly to help Mrs OR set up a "1939" afternoon tea to follow our service of remembrance. The news of yet another fatatlity fills me with foreboding. I have much sympathy with Scarfe's cartoon today. Later I hope to offer my rebuttal of the "we are in Afghanistan to make our streets safer". A typical Westminster bubble blow.

I am humbled by your use of the poem. I think it does place the sense of duty and decency of our Armed Services in a quiet and very honourable light. Volunteers without whom we really would be a poor Province.

Constantly Furious said...


Your sympathy for our armed forces, and the dignity of your posts about them, are second to none.

Excellent post. Excellent poem.

subrosa said...

That sounds a super idea OR and I'm sure it will be greatly appreciated by all.

If I hear these words one more time I'm going to burst a blood vessel. Obviously this morning these inept politicians think if they tell us that often enough, we'll believe them.

Just back from my wee local service and off to have something warm for lunch. At least it won't be out of a tinfoil packet like many in Afghanistan have as a choice - the choice being take it or leave it.

james said...

If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

From Kipling

The Young British Soldier

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!

subrosa said...

CF, generally I don't have sympathy with the military because they chose to do the job. But when they're sent, in our name, to places where they should certainly not be deployed, then I do have great sympathy.

Thank you so much for the compliment, I'm quite flattered.

subrosa said...

Thank you james. Your poems show there's no glory in war, just blood and guts, the stench of death and relief that you weren't killed this time.

Why we are using armaments to resolve the social and political scene in Afghanistan defeats me. Combat never won anything.

Great Big Billygoat Gruff said...

I cannot come anywhere near ORties poem but Kipling does it for me too. The first verse is as apposite today as it was then.

wv = PRATISM (honestly!)

They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,
The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave:
But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,
Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?

They shall not return to us, the strong men coldly slain
In sight of help denied from day to day:
But the men who edged their agonies and child them in their pain,
Are they too strong and wise to put away?

Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide -
Never while the bars of sunset hold.
But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,
Shall they thrust for high employments as of old?

Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour?
When the storm is ended shall we find
How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power
By the favour and contrivance of their kind?

Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
Even while they make a show of fear,
Do they call upon their debtors, and take counsel with their friends,
To confirm and re-establish each career?

Their lives cannot repay us - their death could not undo -
The shame that they have laid upon our race.
But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,
Shall we leave it unabated in its place?

All were sacrificed on the altar of the Blair/Brown political ego.

Sometimes I wish there was a God and perforce a hell so, we would know that these Holy Wullies would reap their just harvest.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful poem.
I am humbled by those men who fought for a freedom that we have let slip through our fingers.

brownlie said...


I can only echo and endorse Constantly Furious's comments.

subrosa said...

I had that poem planned Billy but when I saw OR's I changed my mind.

Thanks so much for posting it.

subrosa said...

Yes it's a tragedy that they've given their lives then politicians hand over all they fought for without even a prick of conscience.

subrosa said...

Brownlie x

wisnaeme said...

Aye, I remember them and the ones who survived

...of my auld Uncle Alec and his few pals formerly of the HLI, Cameron Highlanders who came round his house for a 'session' now and then and talked openly amongst themselves of their experiences when I was wean, present and sitting quietly listening to these men. My heroes in the Commando 'comic' were real enough to me then but not as real as these folk in whose company I was.
Uncle Alec was too young to join in 1915 so he borrowed his elder brother Tommy's birth certificate and with forged 'permissions' joined up. His medals all bear the name of his brother, by the way.

...and of my Da, 6th Paras who slogged through the latter part of WW2 and was engaged in 'policing actions' in Palastine and such like after.

...and of the loss of relatives remembered only by faded black and white photos and the spoken memories of those who survived them or were passed down.

...and to my own memories of a few friends and folk of my aquaintance gone away or maimed by their experiences in mind or body in my life time.

If I may draw your attention to this article which appeared in the American Veterans Magazine by my friend, Robbie the Pict.


Dramfineday said...

As Kipling said, and it's worth reminding ourselves because not a lot appears to have changed:

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Chuck him out, the brute!'
But it's 'Saviour of 'is country' when the guns begin to shoot;

When my in law came back to Scotland from the Jungles of Burma it was to find that Lady Astor had been busy impuning the reputation of his army as pox riddled brutes.
Nice reward for defending the "empire"!

One act of kindness that moves him to tears was when he arrived back in Edinburgh following his service in Burma, still in uniform, he took a taxi from Waverly station to his then home in Watson Crescent. The driver refused his fare "no charge son, I lost my laddie in the desert". The kindness of strangers indeed.

Jeanne Tomlin said...

For my friends on Rememberance Day:

Green Fields of France

subrosa said...

Aye wisnaeme, we're of the generation who heard the stories of the the horrors of war and the courage of those who wanted to defend our freedom.

Thanks so much for Robbie's link. I do hope others read it but I shall make it part of my Super Seven this Saturday, even although it's not a blog.

subrosa said...

So many are just as ignorant today as the lovely Lady Astor. She just never understood it was the politicians who ordered the military. Somehow she thought they made their own decisions.

Still nowadays we know who are responsible don't we.

subrosa said...

Thank you Jeanne. I appreciated that very much.

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