They're building a camp on the cornfields
at Arlingham, bulldozers churning, changing the land,
Acres of tarmac and barbed-wire fences, Nissen huts sprout where the crops used to stand,
Wide-eyed, young village-girls giggling and laughing, at tanks and transporters that darken the sky,
Convoys of lorries with fresh faces peering out, so many young men come learning to die.
They say you can still hear the village-hall
band, grey, ghostly couples still glide round the floor,
But Normandy orchards were waiting to welcome new partners for death in the mad dance of war.
The ladies have started a "comforts committee" but Reverend
John's more concerned about sin,
Hughes at The White Swan is rubbing his hands a lot, watching the troops and the profits roll in,
Eager young squaddies with overdone courtesy tipping their caps to the girls passing by,
But too soon from school to be licentious soldiery, some of the young men come learning to die.
Her mother would have a 'blue fit' if she knew about
Lieutenant Johnson and walks in the wood,
She's laid-down the law and she's always gone on about men being beasts, so a girl must be good,
Even she'd smile at their clumsy propriety, her far too fearful and him far too shy,
She might even pity his lonely bewilderment, one of the young men come learning to die.
Peace came to Arlingham many long years ago, time passing by
healed the scars on the land,
Tanks on the village green only a memory, crops have grown back where the huts used to stand,
Yet as I walk in the fields on a summer's night, by the wood's edge when the wind starts to sigh,
I still hear their voices all rising in harmony, lost, wasted, young men come learning to die.