Noblesse Oblige

~

Commemorated in stained glass,

Claude Eustace Ralph de Quincey Brown,

Shining example of his class,

Will be remembered by the town.

 

Yet what of Joe, the orphan boy,

Sent off by Lord and Lady Brown

As batman to their pride and joy

When their whole world turned upside down?

 

They knew their own beloved Claude,

Would much prefer to sketch and write.

Young Joe could shoulder every load

And workhouse boys knew how to fight.

 

No warrior he, their gentle son,

Yet fear of shame kept him at war

Until his trench was overrun

And he lay dying on the floor.

 

Joe, wounded too, still tended him.

‘Rely on me, Sir, you’ll be fine.’

He waited till the stars grew dim

And shouldered Claude back to the line.

 

Though in great pain and losing blood,

Joe focussed on his one intent;

To save his master from the mud

Before all energy was spent.

 

The surgeons did the best they could,

But soon faint hope turned to despair.

Not every hurt could be withstood

And so it was with the young heir.

 

Without a word he passed away,

His loyal batman by his side.

Joe had no further part to play

And, duty done, collapsed and died.

 

Prostrate with grief, the Browns had Claude

Borne home by private ambulance;

Remains to be revered, adored.

Brave Joe they left unmourned in France.

 

Commemorated in stained glass

Claude Eustace Ralph de Quincey Brown,

Shining example of his class,

Will be remembered by the town.

 

This poem took third place in the 2014 Swanwick 'Unsung Hero' poetry competition.