Private Robert E. Bradshaw


Private Robert E. Bradshaw fought with the 16th Canadian Scottish Battalion. He lost his life during the battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9th, 1917. Family history recounts that stretcher bearers found a live puppy in the pocket of Private Bradshaw's overcoat when he was removed from No Man's Land. They also found the following poem, which Private Bradshaw's great grandson Jason Bradshaw has submitted.


The Front Line
In front, a ragged shell-torn waste, barbed wire and noisome weeds;
The grave of many a gallant man who died for his country's needs;
The bar between two mighty foes, alert, watchful and still,
Like savage beasts as they pause and wait, 'ere they spring to rend and kill.

The rattle of the machine guns spraying death along the line;
The boom of a distant field gun, then a shrill increasing whine.
A crash - an acrid blinding smoke, a shower of stones and dirt -
Then casually someone asks, "Is anybody hurt?"

A dazzling streak of light shoots up and bursts, a pretty sight,
Transforming No Mans Land into a fairy land of light;
'Tis hard to think a thing so fair is but a means of death,
Yet as each "star-shell" shoots aloft we crouch and hold our breath.

And then a low-voiced call comes down for "stretcher bearers here."
Men hurry by and soon a moan falls on the listening ear,
"Somebody hit," you merely think and no one stops at all,
Because out here one soon gets used to seeing comrades fall.

Inside the dug-out, damp and foul, a candle's flickering light
Shows sleeping forms oblivious of the ever ceaseless fight;
Their pillow just a haversack, their bed is only mud:
Maybe a cast-off overcoat, damp with a comrade's blood.

Day after day, night after night, the same grim wearing strife:
Men come and go - some stay; those who for right gave up their life:
For yes, we know the right is ours, our cause is just and true,
And so we care not what we hear or what we have to do.

No matter what our task may be, what sacrifice we make
For Honour, our Religion and our Liberty's at stake.
Our comrades too, both dead and maimed, also demand that we
Fight on until the very end, to Death or Victory.

Private Robert E. Bradshaw
16th Canadian Scottish Battalion

Killed at Vimy Ridge: April 9th, 1917.

 
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