Gibraltar Bunker, Pozieres

August 1916 (courtesy Wikipedia)

The Australians stormed the trenches in the town of Pozieres.
They wrested it from the Germans, who had claimed the ground as theirs.
But the enemy knew the lay of the land, and where each trench was set,
So they poured in high explosive shells, from the village of Courcelette.
For four days and as many nights they bombarded the town.
Shrieking, screaming shells of death were falling all around.
The grinding, crushing, pounding, gradually blew the town away.
Just clouds of coloured smoke were to be seen, by the light of day.
Every Australian in the trenches was buried at some time.
A shell dropped every three seconds on our soldiers in the line.
And they knew that just one shell-burst, could blow them limb from limb.
Like the grotesque twisted bodies they had seen as they came in.
The never-ending shelling would send some men insane.
They never ever would be, quite the same again.
Some were quivering, some just sobbed, some just screamed aloud.
Their nerves were totally shattered by the barrage from the clouds.
The noise was just horrendous, the ground would rock and sway,
And the shells just kept on coming – they’d never go away.
Some men ran towards the Germans, they simply had gone mad.
They could not stand this living hell, and the end for them was sad.
And when the shelling ended, the soldiers were relieved.
Their grim and haunted faces, had to be seen to be believed.
They walked like zombies from the field, their glassy eyes transfixed.
Shuffling like invalids through the dust of shattered bricks.
No soldiers had ever suffered, a bombardment of this kind.
And no words could aptly describe the state, in which it left their minds.
But the legacy they left this world for soldiers yet to come.
Was that ‘shell-shock’ could cause injury, just like the bullets from a gun.

*Pozieres was the heaviest concentrated shelling bombardment
of a narrow piece of real estate the world had ever seen, in this
horrific demonstration of modern artillery warfare.
Bill Charlton c 2014

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