(02/17/1946) End Run

End Run
Load ’em up, lads, and break the camp
We’re throwing the bomb dumps forward again
For Patton’s Armor is off the map
And the winged sky-cavalry riding his flank
Has need of a rest.
So we are off at the dawn in a drizzling rain
And we’re wheeling east, though we’re going north,
For over there on our left, just beyond Falaise,
The whole damn German Seventh Army
Is being annihilated.
We have them behind the eight-ball
And in the side pocket.
But not without its cost to us
For here and there along the route
Are the remains of our gallant little Sherman tanks
Who have taken the brunt of the German Tigers
And are now clustered among the green trees.
Their burned-out turrets have turned a bright orange-red
From the oxidizing rain;
A color scheme that is not appreciated
By the discerning observer.
Then out of the rain and into the clear
And we are wheeling north for hours on end
Until we begin to find Frenchmen lining the road
Yelling “Paree libres, Paree libres.”
Yes, Paris is liberated.
So the Mademoiselles start throwing flowers at us,
And the little French kids throw anything they have.
Have you ever tried to catch a ripe tomato
At thirty miles and hour?
Then don’t.
But Paris! Ah, Paris . . .
And this would be the best of all possible times
For an American soldier
To be in Paris!
But we have a slight matter of a war to win
And a job to do
So we stop at Chartres instead.
Chartres, city of the cathedral of Chartres,
Cathedral of the Tower of Chartres,
Said to be the most beautiful in the world!
But not half as interesting at the moment
As setting up this bomb-dump
On an abandoned Luftwaffe field
Rich with mines.
So we are off on the high-way and into the fields
Where you are bounced from the truck
To land on your heels,
And your helmet’s off in the mud.
You wipe the crud off with the back of your hand
And put the bucket back on your head, of course.
What-the-hell else can you do?
We find a shack to sleep for the night,
For the rain has started again,
“Unload those trucks” for the long haul back
But how do we dump the bombs, without a crane,
Which we left back in Normandie
To load out the rest of the dump?
Oh, it is really very simple, once you know how.
“A soldier in the field must find his own expedient”
It says here,
In The Book.
You know, the Ordance Field Manual.
Well, Aberdeen would go crazy if they saw this;
Wrestling them off by hand,
Five hundred pounds of high explosive and pig iron
Dropping fifteen feet from the top of a prime mover
And thudding into the mud with a shock
That jolts the back of your teeth.
If there is just one defective bomb in the whole lot,
Just one little percipitate of nitrogen against the iron
To make something deadly like a ferrous-nitrate
(Like the one that blew low-order
Back at Strip Three, on the Beach),
Then you, and your crew, and the whole damn countryside,
Not to mention that brand new six ton truck,
Would disintegrate in one heaven shaking blast of thunder.
But nothing happens,
Not this time, anyway.
So you see the convoy off
And post your guards, just in case,
And bed down in a shack with a leaking roof
And forget about it.
— Grady L. McMurtry
2/17/1946 e.v.

Originally published in Thelema Lodge Calendar, July 1989