The Canadian Army Veterinary Corps.
in World War One
There's a fresh-healed wound on the chestnut,
The black mare's neck has a mark,
The brown mules now mute, most keep the same gait,
As the one killed last night in the dark.
But they walk with the spirit of heroes.
They dare not for medals or cross,
But for duty alone, into perils unknown
They go, never counting their loss.
There's a swift, painless death for the hopeless,
With a grave in a shell-hole or field,
There's a hospital base for the casualty case,
And a vet. for those easily healed :
But there's never a shadow of glory,
A cheer or a speech in their praise,
As patient and true they carry us through
With the limbers on shot-riven ways.
So here's to dumb heroes of Britain
Who serve her as nobly and true
As the best of her sons, 'mid the roar of the guns,
And the best of her boys on the blue.
They are shell-shocked, they're bruised, and they're broken,
They are wounded and torn as they fall,
But they're true and they're brave to the very grave,
And they're heroes one and all.
There's a D.S.O. for the Colonel,
A Military Cross for the Sub,
A Medal or two when we all get through,
And a bottle of wine with our grub.
There's a stripe of gold for the wounded,
A rest by the bright sea- shore,
And a service is read when we bury our dead,
Then our country has one hero more.
But what of our poor dumb heroes,
That are sent without choice to the fight,
That strain at the load on the shell- swept road
As they take up the rations at night ?
They are shelling on Hell Fire corner,
Their shrapnel fast burst o'er the square,
And the bullets drum as the transports come
With the food for the soldiers there.
The halt till the shelling is over,
The rush through the line of fire,
The glaring light in the dead of night,
And the terrible sights in the rear :
It's the daily work of the horses,
And they answer the spur and rein,
With quickened breath 'mid the toll of death
In the mud and the holes and the rain.
Written near Ypres, 1916