Warrior Poet – Duty and Consequence

5 Apr 2023

“March the guilty b—s in” was once said with much humour.

It referred to a weekly phase of administration in barracks when soldiers charged with a military offence were paraded with armed escort before their  Commanding Officer to determine guilt or otherwise. 

The beginning of such procedure was always referred to by soldiers with tongue in cheek as “march the guilty bastards in”

As once uninvited Political Correctness and WOKE slowly take their place in our increasingly troubled society, the saying with tongue in cheek no longer has the humour intended.

Presumption of innocence, the very base of our legal system has been tossed aside, particularly in the ‘fog’ of war, where the media has already made its judgement of alleged crimes yet to be proven.

                    Duty and Consequences

What strange rules for combat wrapped in white flags we use
To placate political masters far distant from arenas of win or lose
Blind to cruel reality and reluctance to raise clenched fists of war
Constant “ifs, buts, ums” and gentle nudges to signal what for?

Suits seeking victory with timidity, naivety and swollen empty heads
Armed with appetites for self- praise and prepared tears to mourn the dead
Safe In an opulent Special Place far distant from fields of death and despair
Where war weary Space Age ANZACS standing tall, still go forward to dare 

A soldier accused of war crimes in headlines, bold, black and white
A bloody arena with a thin invisible line between wrong and right
Photographs galore of enemy dead on the same page, readily seen
Frozen images falsely hinting what gentle citizens such foe had been 

The accused, already a hero before this split second survival need
Had been presented proud ANZAC laurels for previous brave deeds
For grit In combat against ruthless foe who never, ever showed mercy
Thugs and murderers now converted to martyrs with sly pen for all to see

So much easier to bury heads in the sand in which injustice thrives
Yet where is presumption of innocence until proved otherwise?
Such irony in assumptions of guilt of a soldier pre – trial to determine sin
Echoing from ages past, I can hear “Sar- Major, march the guilty bastards in”

George Mansford © March 2023