1914 the Death of Pan

Wendy to Peter
dear Pete such larks we had at Netherland
from row-boat races to sleeping in the den
the boys have eaten nothing since they tasted
bangers in bread rolls & tea from Toby jugs
how will we ever get them back to school
when all their talk is army boots war paint
and not to have to comb their hair again
I had a jolly time this summer too
though don’t suppose you miss me now no one
will mend those breeches you young son of a gun
poor Mrs. Pan must cry herself to sleep
to think that one day you’ll be off for good
don’t blame her keep your shadow in my press
so what about this war with Kaiser Bill
you shan’t go back to Eton anyways
Pop is off tonight to his yeomanry
while Uncle Fred’s already back at sea
do let us know which outfit you are in
and write me every day till Christmas come


Peter to Wendy
Wendy dear your last came rather late
none of the fellows here have sweethearts like you
they rag me something rotten jealousy
of course but must I write you every day
I’m so fatigued from training with the men
by dusk there’s only time to hit the hay
no doubt they’ll censor this but I should tell
we’re off to France next week and then the front
though scarcely half the men have learnt the drill
it seems we’re badly needed as we are
cold English steel the bravest lads on earth
and generals not afraid to send us in
to die will be an awfully big adventure
we’ll need some pluck against those beastly Hun
and no denying war’s a dreadful do
but all the chaps are keen and after gin
they sing such songs you’d think them on their hols
my love to both the darling boys your Mum
and till the day we meet again so long


Sergeant to Court Martial
it’s Kettle sir of two platoon the words
my own from notes which I have written up
day after the push our white flag out
the enemy peaceful behind their lines
I and cprl Potts of the bandaged throat
led section B to clear the casualties
from three platoon who ambushed by the Hun
were dangling on the barbs at Netherland
a pair of jaegers with a Madsen gun
had killed nineteen and wounded seven bad
lieutenant Pan here nowhere to be seen
two more deceased from thirst and loss of blood
we named the corpses swung them in a hole
then stretchered back survivors best we could
Potts did a recce of the woods and found
the prisoner up a tree sir breeches off
not a mark on him pelting all in sight
with acorn sir definitely acorn
we coaxed him down with great difficulty
when he burst into tears sir that is all


Private to comrade
Field Marshal French had issued a decree
no mercy must be shown to cowards men
officers the sorry lot frog-marched up
to the heath and tried before a hovel
old Captain Hook said Pan was cold a-foot
which General Fry had queered but ’twas no use
he cried throughout the firing squad hard put
to carry out the sentence what a sight
mind you said he was sorry begged them not
to tell his darling girl the dispatch read
was missed in action and succumbed to wounds
doubtless they’ll garner the truth for themselves
they shot him with his legs in borrowed pants
already caked in blood though none remarked
until next day the sole survivor owned
those jaegers scampered when their shells ran out
at sundown Pan had woken all alone
had torn himself free of his breeches though
that stunt in the oak trees is past my ken
as privately I’d say he’s better off
just rotten luck not dying with his men


Philip Lee was born & brought up in Liverpool, UK, but have kept the peace here in Turkey for the past twenty-two years. My grandfather, Alf McEvoy, fought in the 1st/5th battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment during the First World War, in 1916 transferring to the Machine Gun Corps; he was wounded & captured in 1918, and survived six months working as a POW in a Polish salt mine. I’m putting together a series of pieces, “war’s the pity” using figures from literature to tell different stories from the conflict. Here it is the death of Peter Pan, elsewhere Sherlock Holmes investigates the sinking of the Lusitania; while in another, JRR Tolkien encounters Adolf Hitler at the battle of the Somme.

Other work by me can be found on my blog: http://downwritefiction.blogspot.com.tr/