New Recruits

An attempt to write a poem in the style of Rudyard Kipling. Nothing too serious, but I’m sure that any ex-soldiers will recognise the imagery. Written a couple of years ago round about November time when the British start to think about those that died or were wounded serving their country. Sometimes we forget the people that didn’t die and were not wounded physically but were, nevertheless, marked by the experience.

New Recruits

They rise at six and stand like sticks

Outside the hut in the compound

In their new army suits and shiny boots

They march around the parade ground

The corporals shout as they turn about

On the way to break their fast

The other troops and men in groups

Laugh on as the rookies march past

They follow in file but have no style

Not all will stay the course

Some keep the pace while others race

A farcical fighting force

As they reach the place where they must face

The old hands that queue to be served

Apprehension is felt below leather belt

Even the strongest become unnerved

As if being new was disrespectful to

Soldiers who’ve passed out before

And unskilled at drill means mentally ill

Or idle to the core

On the way back, by the well-worn track

They take the longest way round

“No time for rest, just do your best”

The sergeant’s orders sound

For some the gain doesn’t merit the pain

The weeks prove too short or long

They’ll neither make the grade nor the grand parade

To the army they’ll never belong

They’ll leave the ranks, never sit in tanks

Never shake as the enemy shoots

They’ll find their place in a real rat race

And forget they were new recruits

But those who remain will play the game

They’ll pretend to be courageous

They’ll learn a trade, think they’re well paid

And put up with all that’s outrageous

And then, for some, the time will come

When, as sergeants, they will shout

But they’ll feel some pride deep down inside

As they remember their own passing out