Johnny and the Dead – Diaries

It won’t be long now, I don’t think. I never thought I’d end up here, I suppose. Old, ill and surrounded by strangers. The last few years have been difficult for me. The pals died more than half a century ago, but even the people I knew after the war have slowly been passing on. And now, I’m the only one remaining. An old man left with only his memories for company.

These photos, crumpled over the years, with thick creases through them, still connect me to those people and those times. Eight young men, no older than teenagers, fresh-faced and full of life. So much to do, so many adventures ahead. Well, so we thought. Will Perkins, he was a crazy man. He couldn’t ever sit still and was always cracking jokes. The drill sergeant said he would knock it out of him, but he never did. There we were, on our way to France, and Will was pulling faces and keeping our spirits high. He was a terrific friend. Where was he killed? The Somme? Yes, that’s right. On the first day. Thrown into that madness and cut to pieces in seconds. He was eighteen. Just eighteen.