I have been typing up my uncle's letters from World War II (he died at Falaise gap, August 10, 1944), as well as his poetry. Here is a poem he wrote during training in Canada, before he went to the U.K. with his regiment:
Why didn't I wait to be drafted: To be led to the train by a band?
Why didn't I wait for the banquet? Oh why did I hold up my hand?
For nobody gave me a banquet, and nobody said a kind word;
The grind of the wheels and the engine were the only sounds that I heard.
Off to the camp I was hustled, To be trained for half a year;
In the shuffle, quite forgotten, I was just a volunteer.
We have given the others our billets, while we roasted alive in a tent:
We cleaned up a dozen parade grounds, for the fellows who were only sent.
Then came the National Army, then it was all made clear,
The glory goes to the drafted, the work to the volunteer.
I waded in mud in Canada, I froze in Canada's cold,
I walked my beat in the moonlight, in this army I'm growing old.
I dreamed of the time that was coming, when over the top I would go,
I dreamed of the far-off dangers, of that bloody field of hate;
I went over the top, by a bullet was stopped, then knocked on the Pearly Gate.
I heard St. Peter saying; we have no room here,
We've reserved this for the National Army, Hell was made for the Volunteer.
Maybe some day in the future, when my boy sits on my knee
And asks what I did in the conflict, his eager eyes looking at me,
I'll have to look back as I'm blushing, into the eyes that so trustingly peer.
And tell him that I missed being drafted, I was only a volunteer.