Soldiers Stories

Folk drawing

By Pat Townsend
Reprinted here by the kind permission of Pat Townsend, daughter of Reg Wilks

Did you think often of Flackwell
In that bloody, muddy trench?
Did you long for the smell of new-mown hay
In that putrid battle stench?
Did you long to be dribbling down the wing
As you dodged the enemy fire?
Did you wish you could hear valley churchbells ring
And the sweet clear song of the choir?
Did you think of Flackwell often
As you went up over the top?
Did you long to climb up Treadaway Hill
Refreshed by Ma's tupenny pop?
Did you wonder as you were dying
If we'd remember you still?
If your mates in the first eleven
Would miss your shooting skill?
If they'd miss your tail-end batting
And your sneaky googly bowl
If the choir would miss your strong clear voice
Or the pubs your wit so droll.
Did you think you fought for freedom
In that "War to end all Wars"?
Or did you suspect that your sons would fight
For that same old noble cause?
Did they think often of Flackwell
As they flew in that sky so blue?
Did they think of the Spring in Fennels Wood
Those gay and gallant "few"?
Did they think often of Flackwell
In those great grey ships on the sea?
Did they long for the bright clear Flackwell air
And the wind in the cherry tree?
Did they think often of Flackwell
In those tanks in the desert sand?
Did they long for a chat in The Tips or Stag
A pint of beer in their hand?
And if there's a life hereafter
Do they think of Flackwell still?
Do they pray with us that there'll always be
Peace in our homes on the hill?

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