Battlefield cemetery: El Alamein

many simple graves with basic wooden crosses in desert.

We wrapped two blankets round him
On a broken cookhouse bench
And with kindly hands we laid him
In a shallow four foot trench.

The Padre was a stranger
And he gabbled hurriedly
Then he departed in his gharry —
He was late it seemed for tea.

We stood a moment silent
While the khamseen whipped the sand
But we came to no conclusion
Though we tried to understand.

We built a mound above him
Which the wind forbade to stay
And laid petrol tins together
To keep piard dogs at bay.

And we left him to the quiet
Of the sand and camel thorn
In the only peace that he had found
Since the day that he was born.

September 1942

'Desert Funeral' by Edward Thoms, Oasis

Photo: Des Starbuck