A VILLAGE WEEPS
It’s Nineteen-forty, August twenty-sixth,
Another World War is underway.
Hitler’s greedy eyes are firmly fixed
Across the English Channel on his prey.
Denmark, Norway crushed, and also France;
To England next his evil focus turns.
The Luftwaffe now has orders to advance;
To terrorise and blitz ‘till London burns.
Can holy Ireland now stand idly by?
Or join the cause to fight the common foe.
Democracy and freedom doomed to die
Despite much pleading, Ireland answers no.
As Europe bleeds we give our loyal consent
To bask in our neutrality and peace.
While evil stalks the Planet we’re content
To watch and hope that soon it all will cease.
Oblivious, beneath a clear blue sky
Midway through an Irish harvest day,
Wexford’s fields of Gold all ripe and dry;
In gentle summer breezes waltz and sway.
Cows relax in pasture lush and sweet,
Sheep and cattle wander o’er the lea,
Farmers happy, reaping golden wheat;
Tranquillity surrounds Campile to-day.
Below Slieve Coilte’s old historic hill,
The little hamlet nestles in the glen,
Beneath the old stone bridge, the River Pill
Flows gently as it did since God knows when.
Little whitewashed houses standing there,
Smiling and defying time and tide,
Picturesque, idyll and quaintly fair;
Ancient homesteads by the riverside.
Dunbrody Abbey towering to the west,
Eight hundred years of history in its walls.
Cistercian monks long gone and laid to rest,
At night their spirits walk the hallowed halls.
A little village; just a hundred souls,
A close-knit circle singing all in tune.
Good workers all, for them no oil or coals;
Just live and hope to-morrow brings a boon.
Their oil well is the little Co-Op store,
Farmer’s faith and courage put it there
To buy and sell and keep an open door;
Villagers all thank them with a prayer.
And now, when farmers bring along their wares,
They see no middle men or profiteers.
Together they conduct their own affairs;
Behind them all those bad, frustrating years.
Each day that pass the little store expands
With new departments, services and sales.
A monument to many willing hands;
Community and harmony prevails.
The old steam train is puffing o’er the bridge
That span the road beside the Co-Op store.
Shunting to and fro along the edge,
Dropping vital goods and loading more.
The railway link is lifeline to the store
Reaching goods and clients worldwide
Down the line she steams to Port Rosslare
Cargo ships are waiting Harbour-side.
Workers break for lunch at the Co-Op,
Customers load up and hit the road,
Machinery in all departments stop,
The village is again in silent mode.
The canteen o’er the creamery comes to life
With forty hungry bodies filing in
Mary Ellen Kent is their housewife
And Kathleen Hurley serves amid the din.
Mary Ellen greets them as they sit;
Her food is garnished with a little mirth.
Kathleen adds a smile and some dry wit
And soon there’s much expansion of the girth.
Hot and full, they soon head out for air.
Sit and chat or take a little nap.
Playing cards beneath the big conveyor
Resting cool nearby a water tap.
Kitty Kent, the retail counter’s star
About to leave and head for the canteen,
Waits to serve a client who travelled far;
Helpful Kitty, always kind and keen.
Now she’s late for lunch and all are gone,
But sister Mary Ellen’s there, it’s fine.
Kathleen too, her workload almost done,
Three young girls relax to chat and dine.
Children down the lane play hide and seek.
Laughter, fun and happiness abound.
Back to school in just another week;
Screams of joy as little rogues are found.
Suddenly a halt comes to their play,
The children now discover something new.
All eyes look up with wonder and dismay;
A little plane above is playing too.
Perplexed, they watch it sweep in low and loud,
Then fade away into the distant sky.
Cheering as again it circles round
Lower now, and loud, as it roars by.
Then the engine stalls as it dives lower,
Like a hawk when swooping on its prey,
Passing just above the Co-Op store;
Dropping something, as it revs away.
A deafening explosion shakes the ground.
Children stunned and scattered o’er the lane.
Around the store the screams of terror sound,
The bomber turns back to strike again.
Dazed and shell-shocked, workers blindly flee
Across the fields, away to anywhere.
Hiding in the drills for safety;
Devastated, numb, they turn to prayer.
Screaming by, the bomber strikes once more,
Thunderous bangs, debris fall like rain.
Targeting again the Co-Op store
And workers terrorised, stampede again.
Silence now, tormented staff return,
With tortured minds and tearful eyes they see
A mangled heap of rubble slowly burn,
Where the canteen and creamery used to be.
Distraught, they seek to find the three young girls:
Mary Ellen, Kitty and Kathleen.
They search the ruins, oblivious to the perils,
But only tons of concrete can be seen.
They listen for some hope beneath the heap;
A faint wail of agony raise their fears,
A hopeless cry for help below the deep
And nothing friends can do but shed their tears.
With heavy concrete beams all piling high,
A greater power than human must be found.
A steam engine threshing wheat nearby,
Alerted, unhook and hurry round.
Through smoke and dust they pull the boulders clear,
With bare hands, tons of rubble moved behind.
Anguish now with rescuers creeping near
The shock and horror truth of their grim find.
Screams of anguish, tears of painful grief,
Three mutilated bodies now appear.
Injuries so bad, beyond belief.
With trembling hands they gently lift them clear.
Down the village in another store
Three bodies lay, bewildered friends file by.
Tragic, but it could be forty more;
A full canteen, and surely all would die
A scene of sorrow, sympathy out-pour
To loved ones, from strangers filing by,
A weeping village wounded to the core
And now in anguish, all are asking, why?
Three young stars are sleeping side by side,
Bodies broken, spirits flown away,
Campile, in headlines far and wide;
Devastated mourners weep and pray.
Dignitaries respond from church and state.
Sympathy and condolence send
To anguished who endured this awful fate,
But sympathy will not their suffering end.
Reluctant Dublin fails to name and blame,
But all suspicion points to Germany.
Irish butter with the Co-Op name
Feeding England, where’s neutrality?
The creamery was the target, duly hit,
The railway too, was blown up and destroyed.
The method in the madness clearly fit;
Revenge from Hitler show he was annoyed.
It’s funeral day, the South East closes down,
The little village can’t absorb the crowd.
They come from near and far, from every town,
And hovering o’er Campile, a dark death cloud.
The cortege to the church is sad and slow,
A chain of sorrow move o’er dusty road.
Shuffling feet of mourners whispering low,
Droning hearses lead in sombre mode.
The little church awaiting on the hill,
New martyred saints to welcome up the aisle
Wreaths and flowers, round the alter fill,
The bells of sorrow tolling all the while.
The coffins now before high alter lay.
Gentle sobs, the eerie silence break
Fervently in silence mourners pray,
Then leave their brave young friends for God to wake.
Interment day, and turmoil rules again,
A grieving throng converge upon the hill.
Such poignant scenes, in memory will remain;
In silent prayer the mourning crowd stand still.
The Bishop and the Clergy all are here,
Church and State are represented too.
Requiem Mass is chanted loud and clear;
New souls arrive in Heaven pure and true.
Green ivy creep around the graveyard wall,
Clay and flowers envelop sleeping friends.
Into its lap to-day new petals fall
For weary souls, three days of anguish ends.
Campile still making news worldwide
“A German bomber strikes….a village cry.”
But headlines will not make their pain subside;
Just reasons why their loved ones had to die.
Serving, they endured a violent death;
Innocence in war is never seen.
Though years will pass, Campile will not forget
Mary Ellen, Kitty and Kathleen.