David Childs

Winter continued to enforce its truce in the trenches. In the waters around U.K. German destroyers raided the Dover Straits while a German submarine bombarded Dover. In eastern Europe the talk was of treaties and cease fires while, in the Middle East, Jericho was captured by more conventional means than those recorded in the Book of Joshua. At the same time, ignoring the promises so recently made in the Balfour Declaration for a Jewish homeland to be created in this very region, perfidious Albion continued to promise this same soil to the Arabian rulers.


The luck of the Tisbury Lads held throughout February mainly because most of them were serving on the Western Front and even the maddest of generals could see that conditions underfoot denied them the triumph of an advance. All change in the mad days of March.

The February Poem

There has been much publicity about the fate of soldiers who deserted and were shot at dawn. Another group for whom the horrors of war proved too much to bear were those who committed suicide. Of them we hear little but Siegfried Sassoon knew and saw and sympathised and said so. This poem was written in February 1918.

Suicide in the Trenches
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

©  Tisbury History Society
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