Poem in soldier's 1916 diary - My Dugout

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Poem in soldier's 1916 diary - My Dugout

My grandfather, Morris Gledhill from Stalybridge, served in France in the Royal Horse Artillery from 1915-1918.

Although Sassoon's poem, The Dug Out is justly famous, this poem about my grandfather's own experience, My Dug-Out, also paints a vivid picture of the misery of life in the trenches. In his war time diaries Morris Gledhill noted the constant rain, mud, disease and shelling, together with the high points of letters from home or extra rations.

He told me that when he had tried to describe the conditions to people at home they simply didn't believe him, as this was so different from the messages in the press and newsreels.

His poem, written in his diary in 1916, while not great poetry, sums up in a direct and visceral way the experience of millions of men in that terrible and futile war.

"Where is it that I try to sleep
Between alarms when up I leap
And dash through water 4 feet deep?
My dug-out."

I find the the bleak play on words in the last verse particularly chilling:

Where is it that I'll catch a chill
And lose my only quinine pill
And probably remain until
I'm dug out?
My dug-out.

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diary made 1915


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