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Sandbag Contribution from Rene Dee Sandbag
Children of the Foxes Path
They came from far and wide -
young boys in their prime -
as their fathers and grandfathers
had come before,
seeking a place in history
with fife and drum and duty bound.
Tonfanau Halt, twixt sea and Foxes Path
was the start and end of their journey,
where canny Scot met West Country crew
and Ulster lilt sang with the Geordie few
and the Cockney lad scoffed at the Scouser's brew
but once past the gate, the language turned blue.
This Camp; condemned by others long before
when shells still fell on hallowed ground,
lay yet to prepare for war; to carry flags to the end
imbued by discipline so severe
that drove to cut off toe or to puncture ear,
as boy soldiers learnt what there was to fear.
Armed with green Ponchos and ill-fitting boots
Cader Idris and the Plynlimon hills were assaulted.
Hell and high water was repelled, at a cost
when the blood from ones eyelets started seeping
and as skin became blue from the freezing -
and where sheep, ever present, kept on bleating.
Inside the billets nightly stories regaled,
warmed by the stoves of Satan himself.
Boys played with bayonets like darts on a board,
the 'Bull' always there, never ignored
with spit and polish like broken record
trashed in the morning: Sergeant had scored!
Until that final moment, so surreal and sublime,
on a Parade Ground of cold and steel,
when boys became men at the going down of the sun
to the bugle's Last Post and a life yet to come,
as the train sped away to new lands so far flung
that could end like the fox, at the end of a gun.
Brighton 12 November 2003.

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