War Effort

The young accountant at five feet four
was dogged and determined
in all his rugby playing.
Injuries to his back and knees
not fully healing
became worse with his myopic eyes
not having thick lenses while playing.

In September 1939
Britain embarked on war.
The twenty three year old
tried to enlist with his friends
to serve his country.
The army rejected his bad back and knees,
his myopia and thick lenses,
as did the navy and air force.
With old men not accepted for war
he accounted during the day, worked
nights and weekends
at the freezing works in season.
Long days and weekends for his country.
People talked, pointed him out.
An able bodied young man !  He should be fighting !
A white feather, symbol of cowardice
          arrived anonymously in the mail. 

Desperately he applied yet again
to each of the armed forces.
Again they rejected his back, his knees, his glasses.
He returned to accounting and the freezing works,
long days and nights for his country.
Another white feather arrived.

After the war his friends’
long days and weeks on desert and ocean
set them apart from his long days and weeks
in office and freezing works.
His rugby days with other young men
would never come again.

War Effort

6 thoughts on “War Effort

  1. This is so sad! But, how true that a man even weakened by eyesight was disregarded for war -when they could have given what they could. In the end, they suffered more than death could have brought -because one is a hero and the other a weakened body, tormented by the words of others.


  2. That was a poignant retrospective. It is sad the pressure he felt when he was physically capable, and friends were unwilling to support him. Isolation can, in some ways, be more crippling than a physical disability.


    1. Sadly it was all too common. Men who left the southern hemisphere for several years to fight with the allied soldiers in W W II were often deeply resentful of those who stayed behind, no matter how strong the reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

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