The Old Lie…
Soldiers patrol through poppies in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan
Photo: Sgt Rupert Frere RLC/MOD Crown Copyright/2009
To mark Tranche 4 of the Armed Forces Redundancies announced today, I give you a poem…a protest poem….written in rage, written in anger, nearly two years ago when I learnt of the shocking treatment of long-serving service personnel made compulsorily redundant close to pension point, who were not receiving full and fair compensation for the loss of their promised pension..
Wilfred Owen’s poem, “Dulce et Decorum est”, had the most profound affect on me. I didn’t know it at the time. I was a 13 years old….introduced to the nastiest side of war sitting in a well-behaved inner-city, comprehensive classroom in South London…
Owen (and a wonderful English teacher, Mr Sankey), made me hear the sights and sounds of the trenches, meet the shell shocked young soldiers….smell the battlefield as it was. I saw the broken bodies….heard the gurgling of their gas filled lungs… drowning….and it lingered… it left its mark…buried itself in some dusty track in my brain…an IED of outrage which I stepped on when a soldier I knew, a soldier I had seen sign up in good faith, a professional soldier in a professional army, one with Values & Standards to uphold, a war-zone veteran….was let down by the Government of his day.
The more I learnt about the redundancies and Army 2020, the more the line “Gas! Gas! Quick boys…” rang in my head. The careful, convoluted voices of Defence Ministers as nauseating and chocking as mustard gas…. attempting to justify the unjustifiable….determined to meet their own Political and Treasury timetables and agendas, taking no action to rescue long-serving left behind on the economic battlefield of their policies…individual soldiers and their families, treated as so much economic collateral damage….
Don’t they know BETRAYAL can never be left unhidden or unnoticed?
Stab someone in the back and it will HURT.
So I give you this poem….with more than a nod and a wink to Wilfred Owen’s masterpiece….dedicated to all those who serve and who have served and who have felt let down and betrayed by their Government.
The Old Lie
Bent double with our Bergens on our backs
Knee high, in panting poppy fields
We trace our comrades’ tracks
All Del Boys duck and diving death
Or children avoiding dark filled cracks
To rip our skins and send us
Helmund’s honeyed heat
A distant mental flash
Our pleasant land
Voice filled with politicians missiled chat
They slap our backs
And wave their flags
Then rip our contracts up
Our Royal regiments oh so flippantly dispatched
We march on,
Heads high, to civvy street,
Under a clear red, white and blue sky of
That Old Lie, fizzing static in our ears
Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori
Help protect the pensions of those who protect us!
Please sign our petition. http://change.org/pensionjusticefortroops
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