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Memorial

“His Mate”
by Rev. G.A. Studdert Kennedy

There’s a broken battered village
  Somewhere up behind the line,
There’s a dug-out and a bunk there,
  That I used to say were mine.

I remember how I reached them,
  Dripping wet and all forlorn,
In the dim and dreary twilight
  Of a weeping summer dawn.

All that week I’d buried brothers,
  In one bitter battle slain,
In one grave I laid two hundred.
  God! What sorrow and what rain!

And that night I’d been in trenches,
  Seeking out the sodden dead,
And just dropping them in shell holes,
  With a service swiftly said.

For the bullets rattled round me,
  But I couldn’t leave them there,
Water-soaked in flooded shell holes.
  Reft of common Christian prayer.

So I crawled round on my belly.
  And I listened to the roar
Of the guns that hammered Thiepval,
  Like big breakers on the shore.

Then there spoke a dripping sergeant,
  When the time was growing late,
‘Would you please to bury this one,
  ’Cause ’e used to be my mate?’

So we groped our way in darkness
  To a body lying there.
Just a blacker lump of blackness.
  With a red blotch on his hair.

Though we turned him gently over,
  Yet I still can hear the thud.
As the body fell face forward.
  And then settled in the mud.

We went down upon our faces,
  And I said the service through,
From ‘I am the Resurrection’
  To the last, the great ‘adieu.’

We stood up to give the Blessing,
  And commend him to the Lord,
When a sudden light shot soaring
  Silver swift and like a sword.

At a stroke it slew the darkness,
  Flashed its glory on the mud,
And I saw the sergeant staring
  At a crimson clot of blood.

There are many kinds of sorrow
  In this world of Love and Hate,
But there is no sterner sorrow
  Than a soldier’s for his mate.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.