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Intermediate. Years 7/8/9


By Hugo Birch, year 9, Elizabeth College

Dear Maria,
Many days, my days grow longer. As you may know, my battalion is caught in the front lines of the ‘River Somme’, and my abilities are no longer sufficient in this war. My hands are numb and dried, and my toes are bruised and maltreated. For my wounds, there has only been filth to infect them, and the blood of my fallen companions to make me fear my own demise. Death seems to reign supreme over all other aspects of this God-forsaken war, and there is no other way out from here. We have tried the methods, we have falsified our demises, but there is no escape from this eternal suffering.

My helmet was caught by a bullet today, most likely a sniper who had caught the lives of my comrades and worn them as pendants for his homecoming. For this fact, I do not wish to become a name on a checklist of a German soldier, but rather, I long for my sweet release from the purgatory of Earth that God left us. Maybe one day my name will go down throughout history, but I doubt my poems will serve me the rewards these murderers are going to receive. I just cannot wait for the conclusion.

Another permanent mark this war has left me is some sort of... issue. After, if you recall, the disappearance of Jack Mudd in Ypres, I have gained a strange sensation in my interactions in war. These tend to feature the bloodshed and carnage reappearing in my dreams and daydreams. The torment never seems to end, and neither does the conflict. My battalion just calls me crazy, and the doctor says it’s ‘shell shock’. I hope to God, if he’s even still there, that I survive to return to you.
-Ed Blunden

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