Children of a lesser war

This poem came about during quite a dark time in my life. Although I had left the Army and was superficially successful, the deep sense of regret that I felt at the lives lost and the wasted effort involved in the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan gnawed away at me.

One of our family friends at the time was a Squadron Leader from the Dambusters,  who had, during his time in the RAF, been involved in some of the most dangerous and important missions to bring down the Nazi regime in Germany. He told me that he thought that the wars we were engaged in within the Middle East were a dreadful waste of the lives of both our courageous young men and the innocent civilians who were all too often caught in the crossfire.

I remember telling him that I envied him his cause, and that phrase stuck with me. It later blossomed into this poem which has since been included in a poetry anthology, a critique of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars written by one of my former comrades and an article in the Guardian .

Children of a lesser War

We were children of a lesser war
A petty skirmish, nothing more,
The bluebirds won’t sing over
The white cliffs of Dover
For us,
There’ll be no fuss

Just a footnote in our history
No Vera Lynn, no mystery.
No Nazis in the countryside
Or turning back the evil tide
Just tattered gaps in people’s lives,
Grieving wives

No fly-by at the Cenotaph,
Sing songs where people laugh
Through the Blitz,
Defying Fritz
We envy them that cause
Not like our wars.

No equals in Afghanistan
Just sordid tussles, man to man
No Luftwaffe in Iraq
No Bletchley Park,
Just car bombs and smell
A cut price hell

No Winston, just windbags
No victory with waving flags
Just body bags and sad parades
Until a sordid peace was made
With nothing solved
And nothing gained


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