Yesterday was Remembrance Day in Canada and other versions of this day were celebrated throughout the Commonwealth and the USA.
It was a day to remember those who fought for peace in WWI, WWII, and the Korean war.
In Canada, poppies to support veterans were sold, as they are every year on November 11th, and this year sales went through the roof due to the recent killing of two Canadian soldiers on home soil.
Last night I watched a documentary that followed the lives of three Canadian soldiers in WWI. Their lives and their dream to be victorious in the ‘war to end all wars’ were nothing short of inspiring.
One of the soldiers featured was Pte. Frank Walker. Walker was a Stretcher Handler and carried injured soldiers out of the line of fire. He was also a gifted writer who recorded a journal of the war.
An excerpt from his journal penned on June 14 reads:
Pte. Frank Walker
For forty-eight hours we have been working without a stop, and still the fighting is going on, and the wounded are falling faster than we can pick them up. It has rained all week. The trenches are knee-deep—in some places waist-deep, with mud and water. The dead and wounded lie everywhere: in trenches, and shell pits, and along the sodden roads. Two thousand wounded have passed through our hands since the attack. Hundreds more are dying of exposure a mile away, and we cannot reach them. The wounded who are already here must lie outside the Dressing Station, in the open, under the rain, until their turn comes.
We shall be relieved tonight, for twelve blessed hours, by the 3rd Field Ambulance. We are all in.
To read Walker’s complete journal, click here.
It was moving to get a glimpse into his journal and the letters that the others wrote home to their loved ones. I am glad that there are those out there who work hard to, not only remind us of the sacrifice of many, but to also keep the memories and faces of their loved ones alive.
Packing Out (A Ballad of the Stretcher Bearers) – A poem by Pte. Frank Walker, April 1917
We loaf around the Aid Post, on the sand bags in the sun,
Taking the jeers and sneers of every passing son-of-a-gun.
We are the lousy stretcher-squads, the discards of the Pack,
The idlers of the Army— til the Army’s next attack!
And then, some bloody morning, when the sky’s a blazing red,
And the batteries are roaring loud enough to wake the dead,
And the little mad machine-guns the infernal racket swell
With the din of devils riveting the boiler plates of hell.
—Oh, then it’s “Good Old Stretcher-Bearers: they’re the boys for trouble!”
“Gangway for the Stretcher-Bearers coming on the double!”
“Gangway for the Bearers!” goes from trench to trench the cry,
And everybody hops aside to let the “Bearers” by.
Into the red confusion the, and through the din we pass, —
Stumbling along the trench mats, holding our breath for Gas —
Scrambling over the bald-spots, hearing the bullets whine —
Over the gaps and through the saps and up the Firing Line.
We go where men are falling in the awesome barrage-tract,
We dig them out, and pick them up, and pack them safely back.
Over the wire and through the mire and down the Line we go,
And you can bet your old Tin Hat our pace is far from slow!
Back and back we go, til the battle-field is clear,
(It’s good to hear the wounded chaps giving us the Cheer!)
Back and back we go til the bloody job is through, —
Then it’s “Good old Stretcher-Bearers!” and “A double Rum for you!”
~ HUMP DAY CHRONICLES ~
I would love to hear the stories of anyone who has loved ones who served in the war. Please share them below.