A Man of Few Words
Black eyed Corporal Farrell was a man of few words other than the usual anglo-saxons sprinkled around barrackrooms and camps. He had no words for the ragged shrapnel slicing through his kneecaps but used his morphia and that was that. We sat side by side in the sun, for 'lightning never strikes twice in the same place' I had said. Side by side wishing the frank sharp crack and slap of shrapnel would cease and leave us be. He might have dreamt of England and some soft hospital bed. I don't know, and we just waited. And then a sniper's bullet holed his head. He looked at me reproachfully and barked 'Fuck!'
Editor's note: Hardiment was a sergeant in the East Yorks Regiment, who took over command of his unit when his officers were killed on landing in Normandy. He fought a campaign through the murderous cornfields south to Caen. By the time he was wounded near Toufreville, east of Caen, some forty-one days later (the event described in this poem), he and his corporal were the only members of his company still intact.
- The Voice of War -- Michael Joseph Ltd (1995)