I wrote the following poem at a war poetry workshop run by Brent Council. Charles Ernest Garforth was a real man, a real soldier and he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Once upon a day,
on a battlefield far away from home,
a man went willing
into the abyss,
to save a life,
when god was nowhere to be seen
amongst the felled oaks
At twenty-two Corporal Charles Ernest Garforth walked through the flames of Harmingnies.
With his best friend loaded over his shoulder,
and memories of so little life to comfort,
he swung wire cutters
and freed his kin
from certain death,
his band of Hussars.
But just one of the English roses
to flourish in the dark clouds of Europe,
he did his duty.
The perfect nonsense of a man walking into the sight of a machine gun,
intent on making the buttresses of the world groan
under the weight of another mothers tears,
made even the clouds part
so that the sun could whisper it’s goodbye
to the lionheart of Brent.
He knelt in the mud
and scrambled for the freedom
of the men around,
the comfort of King and country
ill-protection from raging steel.
And while he’d have been humbled on this day,
he would have said:
This was a war of all men.
(Remember those who lived, and those at peace and never meet your brother in battle. Because once first blood is drawn, there is no end.)