Today is my birthday but more important than that it is the 100th anniversary of the first day of the battle of The Somme. My grandfather John Downes fought during the first world war. I have no idea if he was present at the Somme. I never met him. He came home suffering from the effects of mustard gas poisoning which damaged his lungs and resulted in him dying far too young.
Thousands of men never returned from France and thousands more believed there would never be another war after that one.
Our country and the world is in such turmoil today. There's so much hatred and badness among so many people. We can't trust the people who run our country. We have to look to ourselves to be good, to be kind and to understand what others are going through. We can not let those men down again.
Silence,I have forgotten it's sound.
My ears have become accustomed to gunfire and bombing.
Think of the loudest noise you have heard and multiply it by hundreds, no, thousands of decibels.
I long for the sweet smell of my wife’s perfume, my baby boy’s skin,
a rose and sausages sizzling in a pan.
I'm sick of the smell of burning,of gunfire,of dirt,of death.
You ask what death smells like?
It smells of a life lost, the end of hope.
It burns your nostrils and it makes you afraid.
Did you know that mud smells too?
Of blood,urine and unwashed men.
When you live in mud it smells of you.
Ypres, Flanders, Passchendaele, the Somme.
We trudge from one battle to another, pieces on a chessboard moved by an unseen hand.
Three steps forward and two steps back.
I am losing hope but I am kept going by the thought that this will be the war to end all wars.
Man will never fight against his fellow man again.
My son will be safe.
He will never have to don a uniform and find himself fighting in a foreign land.
Lessons will be learned.