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,
myopia and thick lenses
as did the navy and air force.
With old men not accepted for war
he accounted by day, worked
nights and weekends at
the freezing works in season.
Long days and weeks for his country.
People talked, pointed him out.
An able bodied 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 weeks 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
those other young men
never came again.

* White feathers were symbols of cowardice sent to young men
not fighting during WW I and WW II.

Originally posted 9 February 2016.

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War Effort

3 thoughts on “War Effort

  1. Thanks for this Jamie. There was very strong feeling against those who did not fight, whether for self serving reasons, or as conscientious objectors. This was my uncle who was not a conscientious objector, he just got a lot of rugby injuries in the 1930’s when little was known about how to treat them. After WW II he became an angry bitter loner.

    Liked by 1 person

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