Armistice Day

Church bells pealed out,
bugles were blown,
France went nearly mad with joy.
Armistice had been signed.

Singing and dancing in the streets,
flags flying from all windows,
everyone kissing everyone they met,
first on one cheek, then the other.

Here in the hut
we had such a busy day,
such a number of delirious boys.
One very young fair-haired boy

nicknamed ‘Sunny Jim’
was practically dying
when we went on duty.
When the noise started at 8 a.m.

he wanted to know
the meaning of it – he thought
it was the commencement
of a barrage.

When we told him
the war was over,
he seemed unable to realise it.
‘Is it really over?

Won’t I have to go back?’
He seemed happy
each time we reassured him.
This poor little lad

lost his battle towards evening.
He was barely 18 years old
and we were all so fond of him.
He was a ‘Sunny Jim’ to the last.

Source:  Extracts from letters sent by Sister Elsie Tranter, an Australian WW1 nurse,  who served throughout the war. Courtesy of Monash University World War 1: A History in 100 Stories and Futurelearn


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