"It really don't matter what side you're on, Son"
The Sergeant says to me.
I listened real close for I was a lad
Not yet quite twenty-three
"You were sent by your Country, or God or King
It's a soldier's lot to die
So I'll tell you what you're fightin for"
And he looks me in the eye
"For freedom", says I. "That's probably it!"
"Or maybe to save mankind!"
"Or to keep the world all safe and sane
And make sure it don't unwind"
"For your Family and Home and your Flag so dear!"
I knew I had it at last!
Then I heard the shells scream close overhead
And the trench heaved and shook from the blast.
The Sergeant's eyes they held me still
My own stayed open wide.
With a click, he fixed his bayonet
His head shook side to side.
"No Lad", he said. "That's just not it.
That's what them civilians think.
A soldier's thoughts are simpler still",
And he gives me a quick sad wink.
"A soldier's got no time to think
of such grand things ya see.
No King or Queen in this here trench.
Just the Lads, and you, and me"
"You fight for the men on your left and right.
It's just as simple as that.
Now brush off your kit, son. Tighten your belt
And straighten your officer's cap."
"If you're still alive tomorrow", he says
"You'll long remember this day.
You'll remember the men on your left and right
When you hear the pipers play"
"So on your feet Lad, It's just about time
Wipe that mud off your pistol sight.
We're in for it now, so let’s give 'em Hell
We may see it ourselves tonight!"
He smiled at me then and chuckled no doubt
At my brief patriotic vent
Then the flare gun went off, and I blew me whistle
And over the top we went.