The horrors of the First World War
REGARDING JonPaul Hedge's interview ('Shot at dawn for king and country', February 6), my late daughter Selma Maria Nelson (Sam), who sadly drowned at Bovisand, Plymouth, under bizarre circumstances on October 18, 2001, wrote a poem after watching a documentary film showing a British soldier being shot in front of a firing squad.
The incident had a profound affect upon her — she wrote the following poem in September 1983 when she was 18 years old through tears of anger and with great compassion for all of those wasted lives war brings, for the bereft families and the social stigma of being branded a 'coward'.
I believe a posthumous award was presented to the soldier's sister who lives on today and the Herald Express wrote an article about it two years ago.
This is her poem.
OH WHAT WAR
A threatened cry from a distant land
Echoes craggy peak to sandy shore,
The disease of power raises its hand
And man's fickle will declares 'glorious' war!
A youth, not yet a man in prime
Was forced to join his nation's hand,
In glory and tears, and fear sublime
Leaves precious soil as the powers command.
He braved stormy sea and scorching sun,
Bound mountains high and valleys wide
Nearer the enemy his thoughts turned home —
"How my friend can war breed 'pride'?"
Now amidst the battle's rage,
Torn and bleeding bodies writhe
The once beautiful vale now a bloody cage,
Holds tormented souls, not sickle and scythe.
More pain that mind can comprehend
Was unleased upon the grizzly scene,
For the youth it had to end -
Damn honour and pride — country and Queen!
Where oh where is man's compassion?
Can he not bear to forgive?
The deserting soldier, tied and gagged -
Now has no 'right' his life to live.
The firing squad aims blazing guns -
"Hail Mary, hail Mary," the youth recites.
The bullet from the barrel runs -
The young man's body, deprived of life!
Barton Road, Torquay