Last Post & Dressed to Kill

09 February 2000
By Jim Craig

Written after an action in the Radfan Mountains of Southern Arabia during the Aden campaign. The action involved a battalion of the Parachute Regiment and two compamies of a Scottish infantry battalion and resulted in the capture of a tactically important hill at a cost of 9 killed and 13 wounded.

Last Post

It's past the hour o' midnight Ma
an' still I canna' sleep
I'm a man full grown an' well I know
that grown men shouldna' weep;
But the things I've seen an' done this day
nae man sould see nor dae
An' if this be the last thing that I write,
it won't matter much to me.

Ye knew the lads in my section ma
ye met them all last year
Ye'd see a lot less boys tonight
if ye could just be here;
We went up the hill together Ma
me and my whole platoon
But there wasn't many standin' Ma
when we were forced back doon.

They sent us out wi' the rising sun
bare warm against our backs
Weighed down wi' guns and hand grenades
an' the ammunition packs
To where other boys were waiting Ma
dug in on top o' the hill
With weapons primed and sighted in
just ready for the kill.

Big Tam the piper lost a leg
from standin' on a mine
An' a shot in the throat killed Ian
the lad that sang so fine
A machine-gun post got Jim and Rab
they both died at my feet
That many boys were slaughtered Ma
we'd no choice but to retreat.

So they've made me up to corporal Ma
since Angus Bruce got killed
Along wi' both our sergeants
goin' up that bloody hill
But I'll need to finish this note now
for the night has hearly gone
And they're sending out just one last post
we attack again at dawn.

And having gone throught that, it's all too easy to take the next step and make your own first kill.

Dressed to Kill

Knee, boot and belly
breastbone and thigh
Pressed close to the earth
as you slither by
The green and brown clothing
designed to merge
With the grass and mud
of a roadside verge
Past the sentry
with practised skill
Intent on living
determined to kill.

The Mills thirty-six
in a sweat-slick grip
A Browning pistol
strapped to your hip
The garroting wire
and fighting knife
Silently ready to
sever a life
And there ahead
is the crew and the gun
Stark silhouettes
in the rising sun.

Blood flows unsuspecting
in their veins
The bright life-spark
still glows in their brains
Till the pin is pulled
and the bomb
Is thrown
Bursting to shred
through flesh and bone
The flat 'crack' echoing
across the hill
To signal the squad
of a good 'clean' kill.

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