Suicide in the Trenches

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Siegfried Sassoon

Siegfried Sassoon was decorated for bravery on the Western Front during the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of the trenches and satirised the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon’s view, were responsible for a jingoism-fuelled war.

Veterans For Peace recite this poem during our Ceremony of Remembrance at the Cenotaph.

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  1. David Collins says:

    Very well said indeed

  2. David Marchesi says:

    Poignant poetry which ought to be widely known. I attach my effort, and would hope other VFP supporters will try their hand at putting into words what they feel.

    Lest we exploit

    Victor Pugh, hero or knave ?
    He lies coyly in his grave,
    Knows he not today, nor cares
    How his reputation fares.
    Just like all, coward or brave,
    Raghead Daoud or cousin Dave
    No longer does, still less dares,
    Into night forever stares.
    Whilst well-ordered publics crave
    Shrill thrills from prattlers who rave .

    Death, then,shall not weary him ?
    He who died at someone’s – whim.

    Thanks to the propaganda machine of the Establishment, WW1 soldiers with shell-shock who were classified as “LMF” (Lacking Moral Fibre) by the medical corps officers, basically , that is,labelled cowards .Some of course, were shot by their comrades for “desertion” .
    “The paths of glory lead but to the grave”

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