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Battalion-Relief

by
 ‘FALL in! Now get a move on.
’ (Curse the rain.
) We splash away along the straggling village, Out to the flat rich country, green with June.
.
.
And sunset flares across wet crops and tillage, Blazing with splendour-patches.
(Harvest soon, Up in the Line.
) ‘Perhaps the War’ll be done ‘By Christmas-Day.
Keep smiling then, old son.
’ Here’s the Canal: it’s dusk; we cross the bridge.
‘Lead on there, by platoons.
’ (The Line’s a-glare With shell-fire through the poplars; distant rattle Of rifles and machine-guns.
) ‘Fritz is there! ‘Christ, ain’t it lively, Sergeant? Is’t a battle?’ More rain: the lightning blinks, and thunder rumbles.
‘There’s over-head artillery!’ some chap grumbles.
What’s all this mob at the cross-roads? Where are the guides?.
.
.
‘Lead on with number One.
’ And off they go.
‘Three minute intervals.
’ (Poor blundering files, Sweating and blindly burdened; who’s to know If death will catch them in those two dark miles?) More rain.
‘Lead on, Head-quarters.
’ (That’s the lot.
) ‘Who’s that?.
.
.
Oh, Sergeant-Major, don’t get shot! ‘And tell me, have we won this war or not?’

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