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akira the don – christmas 1924, pt. 1: flooded trenches كلمات اغاني


this is an excerpt
of how the christmas truce unfolded
according to henry williamson
a british army officer
who was there

for weeks, we had lived in flooded trenches
the germans were 80 yards away
our trench was enfiladed
we lost many men
shot by snipers
night after night
since the tailing off of the battle of ypres
we had toiled on the parapets
filling sandbag with clay mud
squelched through muddy lagoons of woodland tracks
carrying rations, duckboards, pumps, and ammunition
we were volunteers
rushed out to help general french’s shattered expeditionary force
a few weeks before
we had been school boys
bank clerks, undergraduates, medical students
now our lives were ravaged
some of us, the young ones who thought of their mothers
were near to despair
we were without hope
without horizon
at first, trench life
had been interesting
even enjoyable
it was fun cooking our own bacon
and making tea in the wood
while shrapnel cracked overhead
good sport stalking the wild geese in the marshes
satisfying to feel the soft hairs of our unshaven chins
the regulars were decent chaps
heroes of mons
but the rains fell
and the trenches filled almost waist high
after a few days, we could scarcely move our legs
nor did we seem to need food
at night, we dragged ourselves outta the ditches
and moved about uncaring of bullets aimed at random in the dark
all night, we worked:
carrying parties pumping fatigues, parapet_building
at dawn, we slid into water again
and set ourselves to endure the gray daylight
even now
so long afterwards when i hear rain on the tiles overhead
the ghost of that time
makes me draw the blankets
closer around my neck
on christmas eve of 1914
we were in the support line about 200 yards
inside the ploegsteert wood
it was freezing
our overcoats were as stiff as boards
our boots were too hard to move
but we rejoiced as the mud was hard, too
also, happy thought, we would be able to sleep that night
inside a new blockhouse of oak boughs and sandbags
called piccadilly hotel
no bed but the cold earth, no blankets, even
but sleep
then came a message from brigade headquarters
brought, i think, by second lieutenant bruce bairnsfather
of the warwicks
wiring parties were required in no_man’s_land
all night
and there would be a moon
we would have to work
only 50 yards from the german machine_guns
in the white house opposite the eastern edge of the wood
two hours later
we filed out of the dark trees
into the naked moon_lit terror of no_man’s_land
holding our shovels besides our faces
in hope of protection against the expected mortar blasts
the moon was high and white among the frozen clouds
we were visible
someone slipped with a clank of a spade or rifle
we flung ourselves on our faces and waited
but the battlefield was as silent as the moon
for an hour, we worked in silence
in a most mysterious soundlessness
what had happened?
we began to talk naturally
as we drove in stakes
and pulled out concertinas of prepared wire
there was no rifle fire
either up or down the line
from way up north, beyond ypres
to south, beyond armentieres
and the french army