This is a poem by the noted comic and humourist Spike Milligan that is considered to be his first serious poem (believe it or not he wrote loads!)

The incident described is when his battery, he was R.A., was hit in the western desert with only two survivors. It has been noted that this incident triggered his life long battle against chronic depression and periods of temporary insanity for which he was sectioned on several occaisions.

I learnt this poem when i was 9 years old, taught to me, and the whole class, by my teacher John Ashton, who served with Spike later in the war in Italy. It has remained with me ever since, and reminds me of my introduction to the true meaning of warfare and the callow youth that i was, he was the finest teacher i ever had, whether talking about the life cycle of Damsel flies or the joys of eating a perfectly ripe pear,(I swear it would make you drool!) Alas, both gone now.

The Soldiers at Lauro.
By Spike Milligan.

Young are our dead
Like babies they lie
The wombs they blest once
Not healed dry
And yet - too soon
Into each space
A cold earth falls
On colder face.
Quite still they lie
These fresh-cut reeds
Clutched in earth
Like winter seeds
But they will not bloom
When called by spring
To burst with leaf
And blossoming
They sleep on
In silent dust
As crosses rot
And helmets rust.

Regards, Ned.