The Bayonet In The Shed [REPOST with audio]

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I'm reposting this poem with the audio I recorded of it (as a song) to commemorate my father and the other soldiers who fought during WW2 in Asia - The Forgotten Army of Burma - for the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day


The Bayonet In The Shed


He put it there in forty nine,

in a woodworm riddled drawer,

wrapped it in a greasy rag.

A remnant from the war.

On top of it he laid his medals,

nothing more was said

until the day my father

took the bayonet from the shed.


We had pestered many times

and he had said ‘perhaps’

when we asked him if he’d killed

any Krauts or any Japs.

His eyes fixed on something far away,

as though searching for the dead,

but we found out what we wanted

when he took the bayonet from the shed.


He was a sergeant major

in the hell hole that was Burma,

where the Japanese snipers

would target you on a murmur.

He was proud of the campaign

and the boys that he had led

but he never ever talked

about the bayonet in the shed.



He didn’t hate all foreigners

and he said the greatest worker

that he had ever met in the war

was ‘good old Johnny Gurkha’.

That being brave wasn’t about killing,

he was happy when they fled,

then he went down the garden

and took the bayonet from the shed.


He was gone a short while

and when we saw him coming back

he was no longer marching proudly

along a heroes track.

We witnessed the aged warrior

return with heavy tread,

shoulders slumped in surrender

with the bayonet from the shed.


He moved the cloth reverently

and laid the medals by its side

and for the first time in my life

we watched as my father cried.

We sat with him and looked at it

and thought of bodies that had bled

after being introduced to

the bayonet in the shed.

fatherhorror of warmemoriesold soldierthe forgotten armyVJ DayWW2

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Ian Whiteley

Wed 19th Aug 2020 13:56

thanx Poems Hub 😃

if anyone is interested - the track is taken from my last album - all the tracks were originally written as poems and blogged on this site - they were later taken into a music studio and recorded as songs 😃

it can be listened to here:

or on Spotify here:

Poems hub

Wed 19th Aug 2020 13:27

😃Rocking and added to the beauty of the poem. The guys are cool writer n singer....thumbs up!!

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Ian Whiteley

Wed 19th Aug 2020 12:45

thanks for the 'likes' and the kind comments - I rate this as one of my best pieces - and am really pleased how the song worked out from it.
At least they got the recognition they deserved this year. SOFEV (Sons Of Far East Veterans) has a nice ring to it Greg 😃

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M.C. Newberry

Sat 15th Aug 2020 19:03

The theme is timeless and its presentation worthy of the material.
An excellent addition to poetry that serves to remind us of the
many effects of war, not least on those involved at the sharp end
and their lives thereafter.
P.S. I can imagine the late Liam Clancy singing this!

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Greg Freeman

Sat 15th Aug 2020 09:04

I meant to say, Ian, that this is a fine poem, moving in its understatement. You, myself and Martin should form a poetry band of brothers, the sons of Far East veterans.

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Martin Elder

Fri 14th Aug 2020 23:29

Very well described Ian . My father was perhaps fortunate in that he was given a sten gun when he went to war which was apparently put in the ships armoury until they got to India and then put in the armoury in the base they manned. One of his brothers was less fortunate and saw a lot of his comrades blown to pieces on a bridge in Burma by the Japanese. I believe he still had nightmares on occasions about it for many years afterwards.
Nice one Ian

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Greg Freeman

Fri 14th Aug 2020 20:17

My father was handed a gun when he arrived in Singapore but didn't have a chance to use it ... not that he would have wanted to. Came out the other side after three and half years as a prisoner. Can't imagine what your father went through, Ian. There is a second-world war poet, Alun Lewis, who died out there in 'mysterious circumstances'. Well, not so mysterious really, when you look into it.

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