The Somme Offensive 1916

For nine days the artillery barrage
rained down on us
that June of summer in the Somme
machine gunners like me waited
in our concrete bunkers deep in the earth

When the shelling stopped
we rushed to the surface
and began our job of mowing down
the slow walking British Infantry
stoically advancing as if in another war
in another time where they might choose
to die bravely and with honour
a hero fighting for his life
his king and country

But here he dies unknown
by the chance turning of my gun
in his direction at that one moment
and the random number of bullets
left to fire.

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Filed under Poem, War

2 responses to “The Somme Offensive 1916

  1. It saw the 100 year remembrance a few weeks ago on the telly. I learned much about the tragedy of the many lives which were. The documentary was actually about someone who recorded the battle on camera if my memory serves me right.


  2. magicpoet01

    So many wonderful poets died in this horrible war. Four days before the end, WILFRED OWEN was killed as a young officer. If he had lived we can only imagine with wonder what he might have written. He said his poems written during the war were to show the ‘pity of war’. I urge you to read them. I particularly love Dulce et Decorum Est (It is a sweet thing to die for your country) – this poem is critical of nationalistic slogans and values such as this being used to persuade young men to fight. In this poem he paints pictures of the real war as he’d seen it – with men trudging, exhausted back to base; a dreadful Chlorine gas attack and the fate of one poor man who cannot manage to get his mask on. The ending is an astonishing anti-war message.


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