I shot him, and it had to be
One of us! 'Twas him or me.
"Couldn't be helped," and none can blame
Me, for you would do the same.
My mother, she can't sleep for fear
Of what might be a-happening here
To me. Perhaps it might be best
To die, and set her fears at rest.
For worst is worst, and worry's done.
Perhaps he was the only son...
Yet God keeps still, and does not say
A word of guidance any way.
Well, if they get me, first I'll find
That boy, and tell him all my mind,
And see who felt the bullet worst,
And ask his pardon, if I durst.
All's tangle. Here's my job.
A man might rave, or shout, or sob;
And God He takes no sort of heed.
This a bloody mess indeed.
- Ivor Gurney
Literal Meaning: This poem is about the shooting, and the adversaries had one choice: kill or be killed. It is also about the job of the soldier. The soldiers on each side have a job to do, but also it is the fight to keep their lives. It also is one soldier begging for forgiveness from the other because the adversary had been shot, and the allie felt guilty for shooting its adversary.
About the Poet: Ivor Gurney was a poet at the time, but he was also a musician who loved the piano and violin. He served in the war with the British after years of schooling and was subjected to Mustard Gas* in the battle of Passchendaele. At the same time as getting gassed in the war, he was also wounded. Ivor Gurney never mentally or physically recovered. Approximately four years after the war ended, he was declared insane and spent the rest of his days in mental institutions.
*About Mustard Gas: Mustard gas was a type of chemical warfare used in the Great War. It would travel through the nose and mouth to get to the throat. Your throat and nose would swell; blisters would form, and cut off the airways. It created blisters on the skin, and at the time doctors had yet to learn how to purge the effects of Mustard Gas from the body.
Connection to Vic High: There were many men, inclusive of Victoria High students to teachers, who would have been only children or only sons, such as the photo of the young man in the photo you see above. His name was Jack Dowler. Think of the most popular and well-liked student in the school. Lieutenant Jack Dowler was exactly that. He was well liked; he was a leadership figure, and he was popular not only in this high school but also in this community at the time. He perished in the war, and he was the only son of his parents. It is quite possible that the Dowler family line ended with this young man.