Found this image when I was doing some research on my “war songs”. The recollection of my high school studies of World War I all came flooding back. One thing that really stuck with me was No Man’s Land during the war. I think that understanding what it was like is impossible for someone who has never been there, and I can’t start to fathom the horrors of the war and trying to cross No Man’s Land. Personally, I don’t want to either (well not experience it first hand anyway).
My song I wrote No Man’s Land was inspired by letters from Wilfred Owen (a British poet and soldier during WWI).The other poet I really enjoy reading from WWI is Siegfired Sasson (another British poet and solider). Sasson had a great way of writing about death and the terrible state of affairs during the War.
When I look at the picture above I can but imagine the sight of bodies scattered everywhere, stuck in barb wires and those still living just moving ever so slightly, but out of anyone’s reach or help. I could not imagine though looking across this land into the eyes of the enemy with their machine guns ready and the daunting task of being asked to not only to get across the land but to do so whilst being shot at and having to combat barbed wire too. Then if you survive all that you have to then attack those in the trenches, not knowing how many of your fellow men may make it to help you. No wonder the war was so stagnant for so many years …
I think John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields really simply, yet very powerfully conveys the futility that many may have thought of No Man’s Land (and perhaps trench warfare in general). I especially think the power of the poem comes from the lines:
“We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.”
We will remember them … lest we forget!