The British Field Marshall Sir Claude Auchinleck, who having retired to the southern Moroccan town of Marrakech, died there in the spring of 1981 at the venerable age of 97 having outlived most of his Second World War contemporaries.
THE LAST GENERAL
(A tribute to Field Marshall Auchinleck)
In quiet repose upon the chair,
Spring’s mantle passing slow;
The old man’s dream recalling there,
Fields of conflict long ago.
No movement in his aged frame,
Noble brow o’er shuttered eye;
Living out war’s deadly game,
For survival, do or die.
Ever calculating pursuit of right,
Before each driving thrust;
Then straight ahead in furious flight,
In cauldrons of death’s lust.
On fiery paths of smoke and shell,
He led those in his care;
Till only he was left to tell,
They were no longer there.
A lonely life the road ahead,
The future could not fill;
Thought and deed lay with the dead,
From when he saw them still.
Hark! Pibroch from a distant hill,
Comes to that failing ear;
Again, heart quickens to the thrill
Of danger and the fear.
Thus, final beat in a weary breast;
Angels reaching through death’s door;
Raising him from his place of rest,
To join comrades gone before.
Monty Alexander 17.5.07