The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)

'Sans Peur'       Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders red and white dicing       'Ne Obliviscaris'


Tom Barker

The sand shone like a ghostly cold lake,
beneath the moonlit sky.
And there among those marching feet,
bounced my Lee Enfield rifle and I.

My bayonet scabbard slapped my leg ,
eighteen inches of tempered steel blade.
It could be fixed in the blink of an eye,
if close contact with an enemy was made

A cool soft breeze brought distant scents,
as jackals howled at the moon.
And sometimes a roaming hyena,
would red eye us from the gloom.

Palestine in thirty-nine,
the play ground of Syrian brigands.
And although as yet I was an uncouth youth,
I was loath to shed my blood on these sands.

The Argyll’s advanced in a skirmish line,
and soon had the village surrounded.
The shadowy mud buildings were silent and still,
until dawn when villagers were astounded.

Four Argyll’s on each corner house flat roof
with loaded Bren guns pointing outward.
Then whistles were blown and the cordon moved in,
doors flung open and inmates were shouted.

“Yallah! Move to the center of village square!”
“So we can check if you are true blue”
“Those that are not, are in a tight spot”
“and will come out with hands high on cue!”

I was detailed with two more of the lads,
to climb the steps to a house roof.
It was immediately clear when we got there,
for Syrian bandits had left us the proof.

Four bodies lay flung down in savage anger
dreadfully slashed across throat between ear.
Terrified eyes now sightlessly staring,
as Death on that roof seemed to leer.

Flies milled round on the flat roof top,
and formed a black heaving mass on the blood.
That was slowly meandering to the gutters,
creeping to ground via steps where we stood.

A corner machine gun barked sharply,
and an Arab fleeing the scene,
suddenly stopped and put his hands high,
and slowly returned to where he had been.

Another just ran and kept going,
and the Bren gun stuttered again.
The Arab fell down screaming,
then struggled up and on again in pain.

Still defying the order to resist,
he had covered his face with his scarf.
Then as he was cursing the heavens and Allah,
a Bren gun barked, and cut him in half.

We cleaned up what looked like a butchery,
under the now blazing hot sun.
but death was ever present,
for every Mother’s son.

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