Topic: Officers and Men.

Harry Patch, the last soldier in the UK to serve in the trenches in WW1 died yesterday. He's no relation, but his passing made me think.

I remember get-togethers with the family back in the sixties when men who had fought in the war used to break out the tobacco and puff their way through tears for fallen friends. I was the oldest male child - all of 4 or 5, and I got plonked on a chair in the middle of them.

Officers and Men.

You were hittin' sixty
I was hittin' four
When you told me the stories
of the mates who went before.

Five thousand four hundred,
Yes, and eighty two
Friends fell in Picardy
Who'd marched there beside you.
They call them "Officers and Men."
but you just called them friends.

Now kids don't understand,
Even then I think you knew,
That I'd forget the names,
Forget the places too.

It's only now that you are gone
I piece it all together
From other peoples words,
Though it's you I remember.

At the battle on the Ancre
When you crossed as best you could
The stumps and blasted shell holes
That made up Thiepval Wood.

You made it through the chaos,
The screaming and the pain.
The Germans turned you back,
And you got sent right in again.

In the end they say your memory
Was as faded as fatigues
But you knew the names and places
Till the hour you were relieved.

"Don't play what's there, play what's not there." Miles Davis

Re: Officers and Men.

StranS, I had to sign in so I could stand and applaud this lovely, heartfelt, powerful peice of writing!  I wish (and hope) that the gentleman that you're writing about knew even half of what you felt.  This is beautiful and spectacular!  Write ON!

Re: Officers and Men.

hi stransongs,

true poetry conjures pictures in your mind and evoke memories, which i must say this accomplished with the greatest of ease.

i remember way back in the 50's seeing old men with arms or legs missing and realising they must have lost those limbs in battle [i assume they were from the great war as they seemed a little old for the 2nd world war]

now they have all gone and we all owe them a great debt of gratitude, and this poem pays off a great deal of that debt.

well done and thanks for sharing.


Ask not what Chordie can do for you, but what you can do for Chordie.

Re: Officers and Men.

Nice one Strans,  and well said Phil !

Later, Wayne P

Re: Officers and Men.

Thanks everyone.

I suppose I was raised with two generations we had to look up to with a terrible veneration.

Firstly there were the men who had fought in the first war. They were tough, sullen. Their conversation was more like a string of confidences. All of them seemed to feel they had been let down and had had to depend on their mates to get through. They had a pretty jaundiced view of kings and princes.

Second were the guys from the second war, not much older than my parents. They were more ready to talk. They felt they had fought for something pure, something that would unite people.
The exception was one relative who had been a japanese POW. He had had his fingernails pulled out for stealing rice. Some doctor cut his fingertips off when they went gangrenous. Understandably, he kept a flame of bitterness burning. He only talked about it at the end - talked about how the POWs grew rice and other vegetables.

"Don't play what's there, play what's not there." Miles Davis

Re: Officers and Men.

it's funny how men who fought in the war, like my dad my father in law, and others i worked with back in the 60's, would talk about the good fun they had, or how they had sex with lots of women. but when you asked them "how many men did you kill?" they'd only say that they shot in that direction, but they couldn't tell if they hit anyone.

my dad was a navy gunner, and from his reports [which we read after he died] he was pretty good. but he'd only talk in generalities about battles, yet full stories about the fun in-between times.

the second war was to free the world of tyrants. the first war was for tyrants, and men like my grandfather and yours, were just the pawns in their games...cannon fodder. it just goes to show what the working classes are thought of by the rich and upper classes, the lords and royalty.

and i'm a royalist!!!!


Ask not what Chordie can do for you, but what you can do for Chordie.

Re: Officers and Men.

My Grandfather served in the first world war and my father served in the second.
I just recently looked up the war records of my grandfather and realised how many major battles he fought in and found out he was wounded and then sent back to the front when was deemed ok. I just wish I had taken more time to listen to his war stories which to my shame I found boring when I was young.
My Father served in the 8th Army in Africa for three years and went though D day and on though Europe all the way to Berlin..
I was older when he told me of experiences so I still have alot of his memories and thankful for them.
Heros all...
Stran great poem thanks

Re: Officers and Men.

One line.

That's all it takes.

One line somewhere in a poem or song that hits you, knocks the stuffing out of you, leaves you cold, makes you laugh or makes you cry. One of these and a poem is said to be great.

You have got a whole verse! The last one.

I could go into stuff like alliteration and metaphoric simile (clever one if you can do it, that) but this was merely the build-up to the punch in the heart which is the last line!

Skillfully crafted. Haunting sentiment. A fitting tribute to all who fell and (perhaps worse) those who survived them.

With your permission I would like to send this in to the local paper The Wells Journal, the local paper for the place Harry Patch lived. There are friends in the village who cared for him at Fletcher House and accompanied him to Royal Palaces and State events, I'm thinking of someone in particular the mother of whom used to go round the village collecting for the British Legion Poppy fund and who served in WWII, and I believe all would think this a fitting tribute.

Whatever you decide StranSongs (if you say yes and they publish I will post you a copy!) a very, VERY powerful poem - hard hitting and tear inducing.

<-----<< On an even field, only talent prevails! >>----->
   Gans Gwarak da yn dorn yu lel, gwyr lowen an golon!
        >>-----> [color=#FF0000]Rudhes[/color] hag [color=yellow]Owres[/color], Kajima <-----<<

Re: Officers and Men.

Harry Patch 1898 - 2009


<-----<< On an even field, only talent prevails! >>----->
   Gans Gwarak da yn dorn yu lel, gwyr lowen an golon!
        >>-----> [color=#FF0000]Rudhes[/color] hag [color=yellow]Owres[/color], Kajima <-----<<

10 (edited by KAP54 2009-08-07 20:47:01)

Re: Officers and Men.

Wow Strans. Exceptional writing. I've lost touch here lately and have a lot of catching up to do. I'm glad this was up at the top so I wouldn't miss it. It's easy to read that this subject is close to your heart from this visualizations that it conjures up.
Kudos to you sir for a fine piece of writing. I agree with KajiMa. This piece Deserves to be published.

Thanks for this.

Just Keepin on Keepin on
Martin DC15E
Cort MR710F
Squire Strat (Chinese)

Re: Officers and Men.

Not bad at all. Picked up my guitar and tried to come up with some chords. Really well done

Everything is bad including me
But being bad is good policy
Reverend Horton Heat

Re: Officers and Men.


I'm a bit gobsmacked at the response. Thank you all.

Kajima, go ahead. i've been searching for a melody to do it justice. It hasn't quite jelled yet, but it will.

I've been away - annual leave. We'll be out of the House for a while as we are having work done, so my time on line will be limited for the next few months.

"Don't play what's there, play what's not there." Miles Davis

Re: Officers and Men.

Strans,  That was beautiful... I have tears in my eyes. I agree with what Phil said... The description was so brilliant...

You reminded me of my Granny's description of the German Occupation and how as a child she used to tell me stories about how kind the German soldiers were to her. They gave her sweets and took her to see their Christmas tree because her family didn't have one.

These kind of images always 'get me'

Thankyou for sharing that. xx

Re: Officers and Men.

Well, StranSongs, they published! It's out today.

I'm quite cross that your name appears in the body of writing and mine in bold black as if I was the author of the whole thing.

Please E-mail me your address, etc, and I will post a copy to you (including what I sent the Journal!)


Good on yer! cool

<-----<< On an even field, only talent prevails! >>----->
   Gans Gwarak da yn dorn yu lel, gwyr lowen an golon!
        >>-----> [color=#FF0000]Rudhes[/color] hag [color=yellow]Owres[/color], Kajima <-----<<

15 (edited by KAP54 2009-08-13 21:00:02)

Re: Officers and Men.

I'll second that StranSongs... Good on yer smile

Take a bow you deserve it.

Kenny smile

(Good call  JJ smile)

Just Keepin on Keepin on
Martin DC15E
Cort MR710F
Squire Strat (Chinese)