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Paul Cochrane Feb 2017
Dying for The Redoubt

Dyeing for Empire,
In Anchor Mills,
Building the wealth,
Colouring twills.

Weaving the pattern,
Cutting the cloth,
Meeting wee Margaret,
Pledging his troth.

Production line,
Jobs to be learned,
With regular work,
Money is earned.

Marriage is joined,
Making a home,
Child after child,
Seven are born.

Then Serbian guns,
**** Franz the True Heir
And domino treaties,
Fall without care.

Thomas enlists,
September 14,
Despite family of seven,
He dons khaki green

He felt it his duty,
To fight for the King,
Old Georgie was grateful,
Though he knew not his name.

“I, Thomas Cameron,
Do swear I will be,
Faithful and true,
To His Majesty,
King George the Fifth,
His heirs and successors,
According to law.
So help me God.”

With serious intent,
Asunder from Margaret,
One oath was rent,
For an oath to the Monarch.

Till death us do part?
Unbreakable bond,
Thrown over in faith,
In his fellow man.

King George had another,
Under Kitchener’s gaze,
To widow a mother,
He marched to his grave.

Given a number,
To **** off the ***,
Thomas was marked,

The Highland Light Infantry,
Reached Mesopotamia,
To satisfy Asquith’s

The soft underbelly,
Of Ottoman Turks,
Would weaken the Germans,
With attacking force.

March by the Tigris,
Dust covered dusk,
On to Dujaila!
Onwards we must!

Surprise was obtained!
The Ottoman fled!
Victory ours!
‘Retreat!’ Kemball said.

‘Retreat? When we’ve won?
Retreat when it’s ours?
“Retreat!” Kemball barked,
“For orders are orders.”

“My Plan must succeed!
The barrage goes in,
H-hour is later,
Then we can win.”

Reoccupied trenches,
Redoubt filled with men,
Pushed by their officers,
At the end of their guns.

“Now we advance!”
“Now we attack!”
But Ottoman guns,
Began shooting back.

What enters the mind?
Of a dutiful man,
When the officer’s whistle,
Gets drowned by the sound,
Of the maelstrom of bullets,
By the thousands of screams,
As man after man,
Sings his own requiem.

Lay he for long?
Did he pass without pain?
Or agony prolonged,
Ere he passed on the plain?

Still he lies there,
A husband and dad,
Dying for Empire,
On the Road to Baghdad.

Lest we forget,
His name lives evermore,
Inscribed on a plaque,
On old Basra stone,

But I’ve yet to meet,
From the day of my birth,
A man who did know,
That he lived on this earth.

And who suffered most?
And what was it for?
This desperate campaign
This war to end wars?

Our Monarch still reigns,
With others in line,
Have we learned our lesson,
For the next time?

This Remembrance Day,
Whatever goes on,
Spare part of your prayer for,
Private Thomas Cameron
Private Thomas Cameron was my great grandfather killed in Iraq in 1916.

— The End —