Shot at dawn

Intro:Dedicated to the memory of the poor souls shot at dawn during WW1 

Now in the dawn of a blood red morn

He looks with dark sad eye

They call his name

The one to blame

It’s now his time to die


He wrote to his wench about the trench

Of the hell of shell from the sky

Why he couldn’t go

He does not know

Can’t explain the reason why


He heard the whistle loud and shrill

Cut through the blasted air

His mind just froze

As the time drew close

He could only sit and stare


Before didn’t stop as over the top

Through machine guns chattering hell

Three years witnessed horrors

Of the lost tomorrows

As his dear comrades fell


For his one ‘mistake’ his life they’ll take

To die in deep disgrace

Blame and shame

Upon his name

A blindfold on his face


He stands there calm shows no alarm

An example to the others

The padre prays

But all he says

Shoot straight and true my brothers


His family grieve they can’t believe

The things they’re told of him

A coward, a liar

Failed under fire

Surely not brave son Jim?



Written as a tribute to the 306 poor souls in WW1 who were shot at dawn for cowardice, desertion, sleeping at their post and a host of other ‘offences.’  They were ‘shell shocked’ soldiers who, in many cases, had been over the top many times and had endured years of gassing and shelling. They were simply suffering PTSD. In some cases they had to defend themselves in their courts martial. They were quickly found guilty and sentenced.

In contrast the Germans only shot around six for these alleged crimes.




© pronto 2023
Views: 2122
critique and comments welcome.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

It was indeed a disgraceful practice, yet another example of man’s inhumanity to man. A very moving poem pronto.
Val xx

Flag Content