Brothers In Arms

Brothers In Arms long poem

They were boys of Carson’s army,
sons of Ulster, loyal and true,
marching off to France for glory,
fighting for the red, white and blue.

Description of T Atkinson on enlistment
height 5’7”, weight 122 lbs,
chest when fully expanded 34”,
complexion fresh, hair fair,
distinctive marks – broad scar
on bridge of nose, pulse 72.

In shattered stumps of Thiepval Wood
Tommy helped the dead and dying,
above the thunder of battle
he could hear his brother crying.

You are hereby warned that if,
after enlistment, it is found that
you have given a wilfully wrong answer
to any of the following questions
you will be liable to a punishment
of 2 years imprisonment with hard labour.

He picked up the broken body
of Ulster’s brave defender,
holding on with all his strength, said
“remember, Bob, no surrender.”

Private T Atkinson has undergone
a course of training at this depot
and is now qualified in first aid
and ambulance work. He has been
well behaved and has shown
an intelligent interest in his work
Aldershot 20/11/07

Bob held his brother’s hand and said,
“Sure, there’s no winners in a war.
In the end all you’ve got are those
that lost, and those that lost some more.”

Men joining Section A Army Reserve
will be liable to be called out
on army service under the provision
of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907.
Mobilized at Cosham 5/8/14
Posted to 9th Field Ambulance 5/8/14.

The next morning Bob still hung on,
though he was very close to death,
he whispered this to his brother,
the smell of rum thick on his breath.

I certify that I am unmarried
and that my next of kin
is my mother, Mrs L Atkinson,
Hyndford Street, Belfast.

“Tommy, take me home to Ulster,
to the old church in Killyman,
mother can visit me with flowers,
please take me home Tom, if you can.”

Transferred to Section B Army Reserve
on demobilization 16/3/19

Tommy wept at Bobby’s graveside,
in the hushed trees of Aveluy Wood,
two years later he was sailing home,
but Bobby never could.

I do not claim to be suffering
a disability due to
my military service.
Place of examination Cologne 6/12/19

He carried Bobby’s last words home
to a broken hearted mother,
he carried his memory
to his grave, soldier, friend, and brother.

Tom Atkinson, Field Ambulance, R.M.A.C. 1890 – 1971
Robert Atkinson, RIR 1892 – 1916

This poem is part of the Poetry Book Black Eyed Peace

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david atkinson

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Irish poet, who spent his early years in Belfast and now lives in Coleraine with his wife and 2 children. His first collection "Thomas" was published by Lapwing in 2005, and his second collection "Black Eyed Peace" has just been published. It is available as either a free eBook or in traditional printed format. His work has been widely published in magazines, anthologies, and on-line. His work has also been broadcast and published by the BBC and a number of his poems have achieved competition success. He has been involved with the Ballymoney Writers for over 15 years and has edited and published 3 collections of their work.
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1 Comment on "Brothers In Arms"

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Randall Smith
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The dates and the army in this poem do not matter. The thought goes back to the Roman soldier to the man on the battle field anywhere to day. I’m 70 yrs old and this choked me up. My brother and I served togather in a war. This could have happen to us but for the grace of God.

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