In Remembrance : June Tabor – The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

In 1914 they came from the hamlets and the villages and the towns and the cities.

They came from the hills and the mountains and the valleys.

Farmers and miners.

Teachers and doctors.

White, Brown and Black.

They  marched away from Home with smiles on their faces.

They knew they would be Home again soon.

Today it is exactly 100 years since the guns fell silent ending World War One.

The emotional, spiritual, pyschic and cultural cost of such a war is beyond all human calculation.

A cataclysm shattering hearts and minds.

Shattering philosophies and faiths.

Shattering nations and societies.

Shattering hopes and dreams.

Shattering comfortable certainties..

The toll in terms of deaths and casualties we can, in awe, to some extent number.

From Australia : Lieutenant Joseph Balfe from Brunswick aged 25 and more than 62, 000 of his comrades.

From Canada : Private Percy Bark aged 18 and more than 64,000 of his comrades.

From India : Zaman Khan and more than 73,000 of his comrades.

From New Zealand : Private William Dunbar aged 29 and more than 18,000 of his comrades.

From South Africa : Overton Mason aged 38 and more than 9,000 of his comrades.

From Belgium : Guillaume Lemmens aged 21 and more than 58,000 of his comrades.

From The United Kingdom : George Ellison and more than 880,000 of his comrades.

From France : Robert Laval aged 21 and more than 1,397,000 of his comrades.

From Italy : Elio Battista and more than 650,000 of his comrades.

From Ireland : Tom Kettle aged 36 and more than 15,000 of his comrades.

From Greece more than 25,000 comrades fell.

From Japan more than 4,500 comrades fell.

From Montenegro more than 13,000 comrades fell.

From Portugal more than 7,000  comrades fell.

From Russia more than 2 Million comrades fell.

From Romania more than 330,000 comrades fell.

From Serbia more than 400,000 comrades fell.

From The United States more than 115,000 comrades fell.

From Austria – Hungary more than 1,400,000 comrades fell.

From Bulgaria more than 85,000 comrades fell.

From Germany more than 2 Million comrades fell.

From The Ottoman Empire more than 700,000 comrades fell.

And what was it for?

And what was it for?

Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be towards what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint. (Edward Thomas)

 

And then at 11am on November 11 1918  it was over.

 

Over as far as any war can be for those who survived returning forever scarred in body and mind.

Over as far as can be for those who endured years in prisoner of War camps.

Over as far as can be for the Mothers and Fathers who lost their Sons.

Over as far as can be for the girls who lost their first love.

Over as far as can be for the fiancés who never married the man whose ring they wore.

Over as far as can be for the widows who lived on mourning the vanished husband.

Over as far as can be for the sons and daughters trying to persuade themselves they remember their father – the soldier in the photo on the mantelpiece.

Over as far as it can be for old soldiers years later suddenly remembering the comrade who died in the last hours of that last day.

 

 

Remember these Dead.

Remember them.

Remember them.

 

 

Remember these dead.

Remember them.

Remember them.

53 thoughts on “In Remembrance : June Tabor – The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

  1. My grandfathers served, one ran away from home and enlisted at 14, there’s quite a story there! He never spoke of the war. The other, older, grandfather barely survived and died of his injuries a few years after the war ended, my grandmother denied a War Widow’s pension took in washing to help raise their eight children and suffered terrible poverty.

    Liked by 1 person

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