Prose & Poetry - War Poetry of S J Robinson - Fallen in Action

Australian wounded in dressing station at Passchendaele, 1917 Reproduced within this area of the site are present-day First World War poems written by S. J. Robinson.  Click here for an introduction to the poems.

Fallen in Action

They said he had fallen, fallen from grace:
Deserted the line, without a trace
They said he was a Coward, deserving to die
We know he was ill, so you tell us why

He'd fought at Wipers, Mons and The Somme:
Won medals for bravery, slogged on and on:
Lost friends, lost a brother, but not once at all
Shirked from his duty, let courage stall

Then last night in a barrage, the Germans advanced
He blocked their way, gave comrades a chance,
Ran back to the lines to call for some aid
So more senseless slaughter could be allayed

But he couldn't run, couldn't move, couldn't speak
When he saw his mate, blown to bits in a breach.
Should have been used to it? Been Prepared?
He was only nineteen-no wonder he's scared

They say he ran, deserted his station
A total disgrace to battalion and nation
No trial was given, 'Shellshock' dismissed
Though they'd never even tried to enlist

They'll shoot him at dawn, it'll say on his grave
Not mention the number of lives that he saved
But could they later, go to that place
And swear that he'd fallen, fallen from grace?

"Toc Emmas" was slang for trench mortars.

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