The Fight of The Lost Battalion

Back of Florent, in the Argonne Forest,
Were gathered a handful of men,
Waiting the word to "go in" once more;
To come out---God alone knew when.

East met West in those few short hours,
And were drawn together as one,
As brother to brother, and man to man,
They met to suppress the Hun.

Each of them were thinking thots,
That come to but very few men,
Tomorrow they'd go "Over the Top,"
Some never to come back again.

The air and trees were full of sounds,
As we started "in" that night;
With dull heavy thud of feet on the ground,
We went marching towards the fight.

To an open space in the road we came,
And God! what a sight we did see!
The skyline ablaze with one great red flame;
'Twas our barrage for Democracy.

Sh-h! Hush! Make no noise,
For we're "Going In" real soon,
And you could almost hear the heartbeats,
As we crept in platoon by platoon.

Soon we reached those barren trenches,
And we breathed a silent prayer,
As we settled down and waited,
Through an endless night "Up There."

At eleven P. M. that eventful night,
Our barrage opened up with a flare;
The earth it trembled and shook in fright,
And death just leaped through the air.

God! how those endless minutes dragged,
They seemed forever and aye,
As we lay there waiting in the cold,
For dawn and break of day.

At last five-thirty, the "Zero Hour" came,
And the word passed down the line;
"Go Over the Top," and "Play the Game,"
"And break their damn Kremhilde line."

What did we find when "Over the Top",
In that waste called "No Man's Land"?
An ocean of wire in the mist and the fog,
Placed there by the devil's own hand.

All day long we pushed him back,
By night we'd his second line trench;
Then we "dug in," and waited for him,
By morn, with the rain we were drenched.

The men were gaunt with hunger,
For what food. we had was gone,
But there was the "Boche" ahead of us,
So we pushed on, and on and on!

Were you ever out on the battlefields
With the dead just stacked all around,
The earth in a tremble from fear and fright
Of the blood on its sacred ground?

While comrades you loved as brothers, and more,
Lay wounded, and moaning in pain,
In your heart a gnawing emptiness;
Was that costly price worth the gain?

Three days we went, till our strength was spent,
'Mid sights too terrible to tell,
By the time we were caught in a trap that night,
I can tell you, we'd all seen hell.

Exhausted from fighting and dead for sleep,
We dug ourselves in for the night,
And as we lay there 'neath the shell-split air,
We felt 'twas the end of our fight.

At break of dawn the "Boche" closed in,
But we met him face to face,
And many there were who fell that day,
Yet night found us still in our place.

For three long days we fought in that trap,
In mud clear up to our knees,
Sleepless, hungry, dying from thirst,
'Neath those splintered Argonne trees.

All hopes gone, our hearts in despair,
When a whisper came down the line,
At last the longed-for relief had arrived,
God knows it came just in time.

We went at the food like a pack of wolves,
That had starved the whole winter through,
And between the munching of bites you'd, hear,
Mumbled prayers---and curses, too.

No one could picture, try as they might,
The horror and hell of it all.,
Our Company lost ninety men that night,
Yet it mattered as nothing at all.

But on and an we carried the fight,
And we crushed the best they had,
We gained our objective---were trapped again,
Then we went mad-fighting mad.

On the side of a cliff two hundred feet high,
We dug in like so many moles,
Death was the penalty that was paid,
Should you stick your head from those holes.

Did you ever lay out in the cold all night,
When the frost just creeps through the air?
When death and misery stalks thru the night,
Like a giant bat of despair?

If you have, then perhaps you can sense,
Of the things I'm trying to tell,
And why every man who came out alive,
Could say that he'd lived through hell.

Fighting all day, holding out by pure grit,
And fighting at night by the flare,
The suffering we bore can never be told,
Of those six days and nights spent there.

Death thinned our ranks, took tenfold her toll,
Of our buddies, your brothers and sons,
But before they went, tho their strength was: spent,
They took their share of the Huns.

Relief came at last as it always does
When you're backed by red-blooded men;
But we were so weak, so many were gone,
Nothing mattered at all by then.

We stumbled out more dead than alive,
To food, shelter and rest,
While others tenderly cared for those,
Who had passed to eternal rest.

The price was made and the price was paid,
And as part of the cost of war,
"Our Company went in two-fifty strong,
And came out with but forty and four."


At close of spring day in Sable,
I sat in my room all alone,
And the sun was slowly sinking,
As my thots turned back to home.

Thots of my dear lonely mother,
And how much was hers to bear,
Then again in my fancy I'd see her,
In an old and familiar chair.

Always a-thinking of me,
And constantly praying too,
Slowly it then dawned on me,
Of all that she had been through.

The long endless nights of waiting,
And those anxious days of pain,
The wishing, hoping and praying,
For my safe returning again.

As skies went tinting blue and gold,
I knelt in reverent prayer,
Blessing the mothers of all men,
God's Heroes, waiting "Back There."

My first poem, dedicated to my truest friend, "My Mother."


Treasures in bits of papers,
Treasures in mines of gold,
Treasures in age seared relics,
And in paintings worn and old.

Each to his way of thinking,
Has a treasure in his grasp,
Mine came from the heart of a rough-neck
And lay in a simple hand-clasp.

Twas in the lines in the heat of a fight,
And the devil was our host,
He'd shown us all his tricks and stunts,
As we lay in a stranded outpost.

Without water, food or shelter,
We had lain out there for days;
Exhausted and slowly dying,
Our eyes beginning to glaze.

Our orders were to hold that post,
Against any odds that might come,
And we were sticking it out alone,
Just myself and my Dago chum.

Just a bit of a so-called Wop,
Was this boy along with me;
But fighting just as hard as I,
Who was born of Liberty.

It was, "What-a-da-hell? Let 'em a-come,
We fight 'em-a hard, you and I!
Whatsa the dif'? It's-a all for da cause,
And somatine we moosta die.

Myself, I gotta da sweet leetle wife,
That's-a wait at home for me,
Deesa war she's a-one damn tough-a game,
But we gotta have da Liberty."

Then Tony told me his story,
As we lay in post number four,
Why he was so willing to fight and die,
For the country he loved and adored.

"When-a I was joost-a leetle a-boy,
Back enna Sunny Italy,
I hear my father speek of a-thing,
That he call-a da Liberty.

He tell of a country paved-a with gold,
Where every a-man is a-da same,
And-a I and evra a-boddy that tries,
Has gotta da chance for da fame.

Where no King and Queen can tell-a you,
Joosta what you got to do,
I'm a get-a thinkin' to myself,
How-a grand if datsa true.

So, by-un-by, I grow up,
Beega strong-a boy, 'bout seexteen,
And come along in a steerage boat,
To da wonderful land of my dream.

And there I find-a it's joosta so true,
Sure---Evra-ting is a-right!
I'm-a live in-a great-a free country,
My own-a boss day and a-night.

Evra-a-body's-a joosta so free,
He's almost-a like da bird,
Only work-a so much evra day,
No lik-a da sheep are you herd.

An' den, I meet-a my sweet-a Marie,
And we get-a marry one sunny day,
Then we build-a pretty leetl-a home,
By time, leetl-a babee cum our way.

Oh, evra-ting she's-a joosta so nice,
And I'm-a cum along joosta fine,
Until-a da Kaiz, he getta so fresh,
Right along about deesa time.

Evra thing he want ta take,
An' mak-a do joost what he said,
I tell-a you I no like-a dat stoff,
I'd much-a rather be dead.

So I grab-a da gun and cum along,
Like-a all-a da rest who are here,
'Cause I'm gonna fight for what is-a right,
And-a my leetl-a home so dear.

Leesten, I don't-a mind-a dees now,
'Cause-a we're here all alone,
Sure, evrateeng cum out all-a right,
An' by-time we all go home.

Now wait, joosta you lie quiet,
While I look-a 'round a-beet,
But don't-a forget to tell-a Marie,
In-a case I'm-a mabbe get heet."

He took and shook me by the hand,
Then he started out alone,
To me it brought an awakening,
And the treasure now that I own.

So I'm done with material treasures,
Such as relics, mines and things,
And treasure instead the memories,
Of love that sacrifice brings.

The Flare!

You who know electric lights,
In your cities grand and fair,
Have never felt the fear of night,
Unless you've seen the Flare!

'Tho obscure you're quite secure,
So will never know the fright,
That can be brought upon you,
By the Flare when it's a-light.

When you start to go a-raidin',
On a night that's dark and chill,
Your heart starts in to jumpin',
And your nerves are all a-chill.

As you go a-sneakin', creepin',
O'er that bare war-blasted ground,
You daren't make a whisper,
And you daren't make a sound.

For when Jerry shoots his star-shells,
Into that dark and war-weird night,
You're a mark for snipers shooting,
And you're filled with fear and fright.

If you see him shoot a green one,
And then a blood washed red,
You know it's just his signals,
For artillery to be fed.

You lay stock still and breathless,
On the ground where you have flopped,
'Till his white star-bursts go shootin',
Then you wait for God knows what.

So thru a night that's sometimes dim,
Sometimes lit by blue-white flare,
In clammy-cold war-birthed sweat,
You crawl thru an age and swear.

And just as dawn is breaking,
In a fever tinted light,
You hurry back to your own lines,
With the two you caught that night.

It makes you feel mighty humble,
To know you learned "Out There,"
The thing which put real fear in you,
Was Jerry's red and blue-white flare.


In early morn when day is born,
Night shadows start to fade,
I gaze upon a land shell-torn,
That war alone has made.

And as the mist begins to lift,
Dim lines of a home I see,
Then by the fates' sardonic twist,
There comes a vision to me.

Instead of walls which barely stand,
Against skylines so drear,
Quaint cozy rooms I see instead,
And all that they hold dear.

As plainly tho 'tis painted there,
A happy family I see,
Gathered 'round the glowing fireside,
A child on a fond father's knee.

He's telling oft told tales of old,
Their childish love to endear,
A wondrous fairyland picture he paints,
With master's stroke that is clear.

Then comes the end of this simple tale,
'Tis rewarded by cries of delight,
Lovelight glows in their trusting eyes,
As in turn they kiss him good night.

Off to bed they go a-romping,
Then climb some queer turning stairs,
By crude old-fashioned home-made bed,
They kneel to say their prayers.

"Bless mama, and papa, and give
Peace on Earth, good will to men."
Then as the mother tucks them in,
One shyly whispers, "Amen."

But now the vision is fading,
And again by the will of fate,
From behind barren walls comes a war-dog,
All thots of love turn to hate.

From my right comes pop of a "Browning,"
Which makes my blood run chill;
My vision's gone I stand alone . . .
My business here is to kill.

Detail Army

When all the fighting was over,
And we thot the job was all done,
They handed us brooms and shovels,
To clean up the century aged dung.

What a noble white-winged squad,
The A. E. F. turned out to be,
We cleaned up all the country towns,
Then started to clean up Paree.

French folks only laughed at us,
As we carted the stuff away,
Did you take it from their doorsteps,
They'd mutter, or curse or pray.

'Twas healthy work I'll grant you,
Gave you rosy and pretty cheeks,
Instead of handsome fighting men,
We looked like a bunch of freaks.

So you can take that "Detail Army,"
(The one I mean was in France),
I'd never join that outfit again,
Were I caught cold dead by chance.

The Bandolier

Perhaps in the mud you've seen me,
Or perhaps in the Q. M. den,
But still and all I'm one of you,
No matter where you are or when.

I do my bit as well perhaps,
As your new highly-touted gun,
I fill a want that is real need,
As over your shoulder I'm slung.

I'm just a bit of woven cloth,
Humble carrier of your shell,
But in the midst of battle,
I served you truest and well.

I too groaned under the weight,
Of the shells they packed in me,
But because I was part of you,
You're not now in Eternity.

So if again some day we meet,
Don't start in to curse me and jeer,
For wasn't I your "right hand bower,"
Your humble but true bandolier?

Going In

On a moonlit road with comrades I strode,
On my way to No-Man's-Land,
While artillerymen rode a-top o' their load,
Our heels kicked up the sand.

The squeak of the packs on weary backs,
Kept time to the clank o' steel,
Helmets gleamed in long endless stream,
As we marched through Iss-sur-Tille.

French on our right kept pace thru the night
While the moon looked on pale and sad,
It seemed a mission of madmen and fools,
With all the world gone mad.

When our shadows would fall on forest wall,
A ghostly spector did make,
Our hopes dangled there, like half-naked prayers,
As we marched toward our wake.

We felt all a-chill as we topped a hill,
For there in the valley below,
The Jerries lay in wait of their prey,
Then the "God's of War" let go.

Men moaned in pain, shrieked in vain,
For the air was a blanket of lead,
Through that roaring din our souls shrunk within,
As death reaped her toll of those bled.

We'd have given our souls to get out of that hole,
But the Devil was the Piper,
So battle-typhooned we danced to his tunes,
And turned from men into Vipers.

The fight kept on till grey bleak dawn,
'Till we started our dead to bury, "
Harvest of Kill," was it God's will?
Pale stars looked on cold and starey.

Our Chaplain

He came and went amongst us,
With never a sign of a gun,
His mind unseared nor war-crazed,
With thots of taming the Hun.

His mission was one of kindness,
And no matter what your Creed,
You'd always find him near you,
Whene'er you were in need.

I've seen him go among the maimed,
To bind and dress their wounds,
Then pray o'er loved ones laid to rest
While shells played shrieking tunes.

When "Going In," to do our spell,
He'd grasp us by the hand,
And tell us in this simple way,
That God did understand.

You proved one of God's noblemen,
And played the game clear thru;
Where'er your station is today,
My hat is off to you.

To Father Halligan, Chaplain of the 308th Infantry

Just Troops

See those men who go marching by,
With manly stride and heads held high,
Light in their eyes that will ne'er bum out,
They are the troops . . shipping out.

Been through it all from Ypre to the Meuse,
Seen all of Hell with the doors turned loose,
Shouldered their way between death and life.
On their way home now to loved ones and wife.

Some will go South, some will go West,
North or East to homes God-blessed,
Some to palaces, some to huts;
Some to the heights and some the ruts.

Some to the plows, some to the wheels,
Some to earned bread or unearned meals;
Where'er they go, where'er they stay,
Today's their day of all their days.

For they are the troops, shipping out,
They are the ones for whom you shout,
They are the men who will always thrill,
With their tales of fight---born of kill.

That Night At La Harazee

The Captain in charge said "Run the barrage,
Get this message thru for me,"
Oh God! what a night I wisht it were light,
And why did he pick on me?

"It's damn near four, take two runners more,
Straight ahead three kilos turn right,
At La Harazee you will find Company B,
The French we relieve tonight."

O'er stark bare ground we trailed around,
Three runners, Art, Chet and me
Thru gas smell in a night born o' Hell,
We left for La Harazee.

Chet on my right said "God! what a sight,"
As star shells burst red and green,
In that roar and noise we felt like toys,
Moved by a hand unseen.

The clouds did frown and the rain come down,
Slushed thru mud to our knees,
Thru lead thick as hail we crossed a vale,
And there lay La Harazee.

Just some nude bare walls about to fall,
That had once held homes within,
Then a shell burst there and in redden glare,
They fell midst the roar and din.

Above bombers soared and with dull heavy roar,
Came a Zwoom! and bursting flames,
The cries in the night of Poilu's in fright,
Then bombers bombing again.

Art on my left of his reason bereft,
Said "God pity French Company B,"
He cried like a child then went raving wild,
That night at La Harazee.

Earth shook and shivered our nerves fairly quivered,
As we crouched in nearby trench,
As each bomb did hit our prayers went with it,
How our hearts did bleed for those French.

The planes up aloft turned tail and were off,
But the cries of the wounded kept on,
Mud-stained and min-drenched we crawled from our trench,
With the first gray streaks of dawn.

We scrambled in haste past that war-made waste,
To some battle-scarred stumps and trees,'
For a hole in the ground was all that we found,
That was left of La Harazee.


From the North, East, South and West,
When called upon we sent our best;
Thru that "Melting Pot" o'er there,
Hearts were moulded, souls laid bare.

Our simple greeting known as "Buddy,"
Is worthy of philosopher's study;
No matter whether man or lad,
That's the one greeting we all had.

From small a thing as "Gimme a light,"
To laying down his life in a fight,
There was no color, nor was there creed,
Whenever a "Buddy" was in need.

A man may have been of the Gospel bred,
Or so low that even his name was dead,
Yet when he grasped a "Buddy's" hand,
There passed a love they alone understand.

Country, color, creed and station,
Moulded as one in War's Devastation,
When "Buddies" went on to that unknown goal,
Shoulder to shoulder, soul to soul.


History and Rhymes, continued

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