After The Service

I saw a man parade today, in uniform complete,
His hat cocked neatly on his head, clean boots upon his feet, His buttons highly polished, and his belt was shiny too,
His head held high, his shoulders back, like I once used to do.

The pride in him was evident in every move he made,
The smile and twinkle in his eye, that time would never fade,
So young and fit and confident, with his gun upon his shoulder,
And I prayed that he would never see his mates with him grow older.

For if I could alter history the wars would not have been,
No-one should ever have to face the horrors I have seen,
In the stinking, sweaty jungles, with the bullets and the bombs,
And the fever and the insects, in a world so full of wrongs.

I saw fighting in the deserts too, in blinding, searing heat,
Saw men go mad with thirst, or fear, or not a thing to eat,
I saw injuries and damages that no-one could believe,
And saw months of non-stop "action" without a day of leave.

I was part of ocean warfare in a ship and submarine,
Part of sinking other tortured souls - a memory obscene.
I saw oceans full of burning oil, and lifeboats upside down,
And officers and "other ranks" who would either burn or drown.

I piloted a bomber and I bombed from in the skies,
I saw planes explode, or crash to earth, and airmen, too, likewise,
I also flew a fighter and I flew it mighty well,
And I reckon what I saw of war would coincide with hell.

I was nursing sick and broken men to bring them back to health,
And I did all that I could do to protect the Commonwealth,
I fought and fed and flew and rode and drove and sailed and nursed,
And if I could have a dying wish, I’d see those days reversed.

Then no-one would be hurt next time, no mates or cobbers fall,
And everyone would understand the futility of it all,
Now I pray that that young man I saw will be just a sentinel, And I pray that I’m a dying group, - for I am the R.S.L.

Jeff Cook