I dedicate this poem to my father, who as a young soldier in the Royal Fusiliers was severely injured at the Battle of Cambrai in France during the 1st World War, when we lost half a million men in just three weeks. He was deaf for the remainder of his life, and of his seven children, he never heard the last four speak. I was the last.

World War 1 Trenches


By Len A.Hynds

"There's nothing to worry about," they said,
"this going up the line."
To the front line trench, the sergeant led,
saying, "You lads will be just fine."

I cannot look at the many dead,
that lay within this trench,
covered in blankets, many stained red,
but I smell the awful stench.

This churned-up earth, with that foot exposed,
those soldiers killing lice.
Shell-shocked with horror, their poor minds closed,
to the scurrying rats and mice.

Half a million of English dead,
in only just three weeks.
"There's nothing to worry about," they said,
but death around me reeks.

"Oh, take me back to dear old blighty,"
a soldier sings in despair,
followed by a "Christ almighty,"
seeing us pass with a stare.

"There's nothing to worry about," they said,
some-one whispers, "Poor sods,"
I stumble forward in growing dread,
my boots like muddied clods.

I shake and tremble as bullets whine,
and shells and mortars strike."
"Keep going lads, you will be fine."
Is this what hell is like?