My Father Was a Soldier

Posted by on Apr 24, 2017 in Poetry and Prose

OUR  FATHER,  IN MEMORIUM                November 11/07


My father was a soldier,

 In the first and second wars.

He joined when he was 15,

Had to lie about his age.

He ran away from dull school.

For he didn’t want to miss,

All the fun of shooting Germans,

He would shoot between their eyes.


So with very little training,

He’s in the thick of it.

The mud and blood was knee deep.

There was no time to sleep.

He was so keen and always brave,

The sent him off to OTC.

He came back a lieutenant,

And told others what to do.


He always led from in front.

At 17 they made him captain,

With a company of his own.

And they gave him shiny medals,

To pin upon his chest.

To show he was the best.

But the war just kept on going,

And the blood and mud was deeper.


Your grandpa’s voice grew fainter,

When he tried to shout an order.

“Common lads now over the top”

For how could he give that order?

It would make so many die.

Then a shell left him dying,

In the stinking bloody mud.

With a shrapnel hole in his head.


And that’s the end of grandpa,

‘cept the Lord He knew a cared,

Said a grandpa he should be.

To you and lots of others kids.

So they brought in a stretcher,

Took the metal from his head,

He lived to tell the tale,

But only in his head.

My father was a soldier,

In world war one and two.

He barely lived and seldom told,

Of the horrors that he knew.

 As then and always after,

The only things we heard,

Were all the funny parts,

And anything most weird.


But it wasn’t hard to tell,

His pains and nightmares,

Showed that he had been,

Through a living hell.

When dark bits oozed from head

Or when in sleep he shouted,

“Bayonets fix, now charge them boys,

“We’ve got them on the run.”


My mother oft was terrified

When he leapt up from the bed.

Yet he was a gentleman,

And seldom lost his head.

With 7 kids most loving.

Despite terrible conflicts,

Churning up inside his mind,

To friends and foe, extraordinary kind.


For those he shot most carefully,

Seldom lay down and just died.

But writhed in pain and gore,

Pleaded, “hilf mich bitte”,

Called for mother and his girlfriend,

He just left behind.

As a kind man, dad would reach out.

As a shoulder should kill him dead.


In number two we had to flee,

Before a Roman Juggernaut.

In Canada we lived in safety,

Knew blackout, drills and rations.

But dad although disabled,

Signed on to train the young lads,

As best his wound allowed.

Came home and helped with dishes.


We children played at soldier,

How brave and smart we’d be.

We used our wooden rifles,

Shot dread Stukas from the skies.

What dad thought he seldom said?

Now I think that he would say,

“That man you killed as enemy,

Was a soldier just like me”.


I was so keen I joined them both,

To prove my dad was right.

Both army and navy cadets,

And rose to top them both.

In college trained as officer,

But then I came to doubt.

My God reached down and shook me,

And slowly my mind came clear.


I’m sure there is a just war.

Defending heath and home.

But when called “just” from every side,

Who can decide who’s right?

The hero lounging in his home,

Or the one who’s in a grave.

The one becomes a statue,

The other martyr’s stripe.


Now this I have concluded,

I ask you think on it.

Can anyone gain anything?

If at a man’s expense?

If it’s not good for black man,

It cannot profit white.

If it is not good for woman,

It’s never good for man.


And as a Christian family man,

I’ve also learned just this.

My God defends His church quite well.

He doesn’t need my help.

Because He makes all history,

All nations in His hand.

He sooner that I would die,

Then kill in my defense.


Philip and Barnabas