As a wis waulkin aa a lane,
I heard twa corbies makin a main,
The yin until the tither did say,
Whar sall we gang an dine the day.
The sea wis white an foamin at the mou as oor ship pumlt its way
E'er sou towards Malvinas' lands; whilst I tak a donnert round the deck
Thinking lang o' Scotia's charms, an quhit ra' morrow micht bring.
The deck's rise and fa makin drunkard's of us aa
As staggert we round takin oor ease, a fag, a blether ir jist oor thochts.
As I staund aginst the rail, thinkin through ma job and plans
I caught the wurds a twae Airbourne's, talkin abit quhit micht well be
When sent ashore tae San Carlos Bay and whether Argies their skins will rake.
Yet they twae were alsa fou of quhit thir wid be daein
Tae ony Argies stupid 'nough tae git thir person's in thir way o' arms an man.
Bit bravado disnae hud fir lang when thochts of wounds and death arise
An' soon they whistle a different tune o' life an' families an girls they've screwed.
They ponder aye there given fate, thir Rupert's blaw an chaff an if he'll get them kilt ir naw.
He's affy young the older says, wull he stay when danger looms -
Missing thit thir Rupert' wis jist ages wi them.
The ship's pipe o darken ship has them flick their doubts awa
Intae the Atlantic's southern sea, the glowin ends drift aft til seen nae mair.
I thocht o quhit ma briefing said o' casualties an' conditions ashore
An if ma men were thinking if thir Rupert wid cope or fa' awa -
Tae tell the truth I wisnae sure masel, aa new the bluid wis nae big deal
As surgery I'd seen an done but at ma leisure and naw in trench ir under fire
Nor under pressure o' yellin men in fear o' death.
I wannert forward tae abaft the bridge and takin in the last o' light,
Went in and dogged the door doon ticht tae shut oot quhit the morrow wid bring.
Tae the cabin shared with thrie, tae check ma pack an webbing an aw.
Ma mental check list went thru agin and last E'ens jokes were far an' few
Though tichtly packed, oor silence left us aa alane, as tae ir thochts we turned a new
An hope that sleep wid win us o'er afore Z hour an' D-day hud us by
The scruffs o' oor collective necks.
In behint yon auld fail dyke,
I wat thir lies a new slain knight,
Naebudy kens thit he lie's there,
Bit his hawk, his hound and his lady fair.
We landit o'er by Ajax Bay whaur lies an auld meat process plant.
We thocht it most suitable that it wis where we'd set up camp,
Tae process meat in our ane way bit hoped it wid be mair success
Than the Falkland's Meat Company hud clearly been.
O'er back the engineers began tae dig a pit fir those
Fir whom oor ministrations were tae late ir failed at thir last gasp fir life,
Whilst settin up tae dae ir bit fir life o'er death.
It wisnae lang till things got hot an Argie planes came roaring by
Droppin bombs on those who still were all at sea within the bay.
I keeked oot o'er ma slit trench’s brow an' watched the plash of bombs that missed.
Whilst o'er head the rounds cracked by as tracer drifted aa o'er the shop
An’ missiles took thir errant flight chasin efter Sky Hawks' weaving tails.
Tae ma left a round went home and left a ball of glowing sun
Jist where a Sky Hawk once had been.
Then where I couldna see a plume o smoke came up behint by Fanning Heid
Whaur casualties were piling up on Ardent's flaming decks.
The Junglies went aff tae help an wi them went ir boss
Sae we wir left, tae ready irsel's tae stert the weeks o' ravaged flesh
Wha'd needs ir skill and empathy tae see them thru thir ordeal
Thru' fire an steel an sichts thit nae man shud ever see
O freends blootered aa tae bits or dein in thir airms.
Sae in they came, as Junglies clattered tae a halt disgorging hault an lame
Intae oor triage space an then oor ain pain thir began.
Tae choose wha wid be saved and wha wid go past an maybe later seen
When we wir nae sae fu' and hud the time to join them up agin.
St Peter hus it easy at his ane pearly gates fir thir aa dead
Wha afore him come fir judgment and a place within his heaven -
We'd nae sic a luxury as thit.
His hawk is tae the huntin' gane,
His dug tae fetch the wild fowl hame,
His wife has tae'n an ither mate,
Sae we kin mak ir dinner sweet.
As I sat safe, nae in herms way - weel no countin twae bombs that bounced ane day
An tae our relief didnae dae thir duty tae explode – whilst countin chickens yet tae be hatched.
I got the call tae get ma kit an forrit gang, replace a freend whose eyes had seen
Ae sicht of slaughter tae much tae delve, wha’s mind hud gone tae mince.
Sae tae a Junglie I now went forth and clattered ower the Falkland’s moss
Tae the gun line, placed a bit a back frae whir ma job’ll tak me next
An Shank’s pony did the trick, the last five clicks.
Nae much time tae settle in as at the ‘O’ group it wis clear, a nicht attack wis gangin in
As soon as darkness’ cover came; sae tae oor places at the rush and mak it ready wis the geme.
Wi radio checks, weapon’s checks an tae our RAP tae check oor place wis pit ae richt.
Then hunker doon tae silence, wi nae lichts tae show till the attack went in an things got live.
The silent hiss was aa oor sparks could hear, mair noise thon we had pit the gither.
Then in tae air a bricht licht hissed that lit oor world wi shadows dark
Whaur aa hell wid noo brak oot an deafen us tae boot.
Then in they cam screaming, silent an moaning men; scissors removed their sodger state
Turning them back tae men: casualties and war’s flotsam fir us to dae wi as we wid.
Stabilising those we could wi drips, drugs an pressure pads whilst clipping off extremities
Hud only by a piece o’ skin an gristle or pickin oot bits o’ phosphorous still burnin lang
Efter wounding shud hae endit. Huddin wee Argie boys greetin ‘Madre, madre’ –
Tae die unshriven by cruel religious cant, quhit sent them purgatory wards for aye,
Whilst they hud no eve’n lived nor sinned ir seen eighteen years o’ age.
When livin are aa gang awa, tae Teal or Ajax, then we still hae work tae dae.
The tallie o the died is ta’en - oors an thirs - an steps tae ken who they aa are.
Thir aa mither’s sons noo - aa the same - thirs nae sides to be hud in death’s cauld grip.
We bag an tag those we ken an write oor form that lists them ‘glorious deid’ – aye richt!
Thirs nae muckle glory haein nae heid ir hert an lungs aa shot awa,
Ir grave thit spiels, ‘Wee Argentine lad known only unto god kens who’,
An a mither wha’s grief is unassuaged by sic platitudes.
I’ll perch on his white hause bane,
An I sal pluck oot his bony blue een,
While wi ae lock o his gowden hair,
We’ll theek our nest fir ev’r mair.
We burrit some an ithers hameward sent tae families wham wanted thir ane lament.
Oor minds we burrit intae drink tae hide oorsel’s awa fram quhit we’d done;
Whilst comatose cam the state that guarded us fram pain, life an deid men’s een.
We carrit oan as if we hud nae seen ir felt at all those weeks o’ hell an strife;
Yet inward turn’d oor anger’s warmth and wrapped it tight within oorsel’s
Sae nae ane chink wid let it oot, case we’d be split in twae, oor brains smoored aa about.
They ca’ it PTSD but fir us wis normality.
The years caw bye and still you cope and hide awa the hatred o yersel ye feel
Fir living when yer friends are deid an have’ny wife or kids tae carrit forward
The folk you’d kenned tae generations yet tae come. Self pity wears yer armour doon
An age maks free wi yer ane strength that’s hid for lang syne troubled thochts.
Its then thon auld enemy PTSD has its day, it taks yer manhood and yer mind
Tae dark, dark places where nightmares live an bogeymen abound.
A bairn ye are aince mair.
The Falkand’s wounded still ir sair, their heids tae mince an marrit nae mair
Fir that guid wimen wha’s yer wife has taen her last cuff an wants nae mair
Efter years o dog’s abuse. She’s noo as wounded as her man, her peace is shattered,
Her luv worn thin as seek she is o’ her man’s decline intae himself, thit shut her oot.
So that wee war o Maggie’s need, tae save her skin, is killin yet aa this time on.
Aa he’s noo left is quhit tae dae wi quhit is left o his ane life and quhit its worth?
Tae dee ir na tae dee, thit is his question?
An thir twa cantlin corbies, still, are makin a main o’er yon Falkland Malvina wastes.
How mony mair will it tak until they’ve enough behint yon auld fail dyke
Tae nae mair worrit aboot, hae they enough tae theek thir nests fir evir mair?
The greed o’ politicians kens nae bounds when in thir troughs thir snebs are stuck.
Advantage being thir only truck, patronage thir gilt an sway whilst men an wimen
Wha they send in herms way, to feed thir purse, jist become pert o’ thir national debt
Which niver tae be repaid in this wurld ir the next.