Oof that's dryOne of John Pudney's poems reflecting the absence of a body to bury when service personnel are killed at or above the sea -
Missing, Believed Killed.
Less said the better.
The bill unpaid, the dead letter.
No roses at the end
Of Smith, my friend.
Last words don’t matter,
And there are none to flatter.
Words will not fill the post
Of Smith, the ghost.
For Smith, our brother,
only son of a loving mother,
The ocean lifted, stirred,
Leaving no word.
All in all a bad day at the office?THE ANGEL OF DEATH (Former Republic of Yugoslavia)
The Angel of Death rose up to the sky with a satisfied grin on her face,
the anguish, the carnage, the stench of death,
she’s truly has ruined this place.
The neighbours, once friends with foundations of old, had torn each other apart,
the community gone, just a desolate place where the Angel had ripped out it’s heart.
I sat on a hill and looked down on the place, the smoke spiralled up from the heap,
the mortars rang out and the snipers took aim and played Russian Roulette on the streets.
The screams and the shouts were muffled by thumps of the tanks as they sat on the hill.
The Commanders sat patient, their eyes ever watching awaiting the perfect kill.
My rifle gripped tight, I called in the news as troops advanced over the stream,
another town lost to the rag tag brigade with the Angel guiding their feet,
they tore through the town, through houses of friends, the Angel instructing their death.
They raped and they killed and the Angel looked on, satisfaction all over her face.
My heart felt heavy, the tears welled up, I felt empty and weak as I stood,
watching babies, and mothers, the old and the town stained with their blood.
I jumped with a start as my earpiece rang out,
‘intervention required at once’.
My weapon was cocked as I raced down the hill with my Section behind as support.
As we neared the town the Angel looked down and considered the newcomer’s fate,
should the sniper take aim, should the mortars rain down and deliver them up to the gate?
I dodged through the streets, my life in her hands, the adrenalin pushing me on, to the screams of the girl, to the cries of the child through the mud, through the blood to beyond.
As I came to a junction I looked to my left, I heard a young girl scream,
the girl fought back, so small and so weak, she made the soldier bleed.
His pride took over as his pistol was drawn and the Angle swooped down for her feed.
‘STOP, OR I FIRE’, I called to the group, the Angel stopped in mid flight,
I dropped to one knee, brought my rifle to bear and focused my aim through the sight.
They turned all at once; I could see in their eyes the Angel had gripped them within.
I waited forever but nobody moved, a stalemate where no one could win.
I shifted position, the cramp set in and adrenalin coursed through my veins. The fear hung close, the sweat stung my eyes and the soldier retreated a pace.
I slowly stood up with my aim held true and repeated my warning again,
I was ready to fire, to take a man down, to end his life there and then.
Our fate was decided with the roll of a dice as the Angel looked on with a grin, I started to shiver and the cold wind took hold and fear took over again,
the Angel swooped down with a scream so loud that the soldier ducked out of the way,
my rifle kicked back and the rounds took hold and his spirit was lifted away.
The others looked on, their weapons fell limp, one of their own was gone,
with the girl at their feet they turned to retreat and abandon their fight for today.
I ran to the girl as I shook with fear and dragged her away from the death,
she survived today, and tomorrow would play the Angel of Death once again.
I really can't remember where I first came across this poem, but you're absolutely correct regarding Slivovitz, (Slip-in-the-ditch).All in all a bad day at the office?
Was that written by a local Yugo bloke? If yes, why did he not mention being off his tits on Slivovitz (note the rhyme)?
I was the lead Int analyst at HQ 1st (British) Corps* when the war in B-H kicked off.I really can't remember where I first came across this poem, but you're absolutely correct regarding Slivovitz, (Slip-in-the-ditch).