Confused malcontents swilling Chardonnay while awaiting the Zombie Apocalypse.
NOT a Joke (this time)
This is the wish as he told it to me, Of Gunner McPherson of Battery B.
I want no ribbon nor medals to wear, I’ve done my bit, and I’ve had my share
Of filth and fighting, blood and tears, And doubt and death in the last four years.
My team and I were among the first Contemptible few, when the war-clouds burst.
We sweated our gun through dust and heat, We hauled her back in the big retreat,
With weary horses and short of shell, Turning our backs on them, that was Hell!
That was at Mons, but we came back there, With shining horses and shells to spare,
And much I’ve suffered and much I’ve seen, From Mons to Mons on the miles between.
But I want no medals nor ribbons to wear, All I ask for my fighting share
Is this, that England should give to me, The offside leader of Battery B.
She was a round-ribbed, blaze-faced brown, Shy as a country girl in town,
Scared at the gangway, scared at the quay, Lathered in sweat at the sight of the sea.
But brave as a lion and strong as a bull, With the mud at the hub in an uphill pull.
She learned her job, as the best ones do, And we hadn’t been more than a week or two,
Before she would stand like a rooted oak, While bullets whined and the shrapnel broke,
And a mile of the ridges rocked in glee, As the shells went over from Battery B.
We swayed with the battle back and forth, Lugging the limbers south and north,
Round us the world was red with flame, As we gained or gave in the changing game.
But forwards or backwards, losses or gains, There were empty saddles and idle chains,
For death took some on the galloping track, And beckoned some from the bivouac,
Till at last were left but my mare and me, Of all who went over with Battery B.
My mates have gone and left me alone, Their horses are heaps of ash and bone.
Of all who went out in courage and speed, Was left but the little brown mare in the lead.
The little brown mare with a blaze on her face, Who would die of shame at a slack in her trace,
Who would swing the team at the least command, Who would charge a house at the clap of a hand,
Who would turn from a shell to nuzzle my knee, The offside leader of Battery B.
But I want no medals nor ribbons to wear, If I’ve done my bit, it was only my share,
If a man has his pride and the good of his cause, And the love of his home, they are unwritten laws.
But what of the horses who worked by our side? Who in faith as of children fought with us and died?
If I through it all have been true to my task, I ask for one honour, this only I ask.
The gift of one gunner, I know of a place, Where I’d leave a brown mare with a blaze on her face,
‘Neath low leafy lime trees, ‘mid cocksfoot and clover, To dream, with the dragon-flies glistening over.
DECEMBER 8th 1918