In the shadow of the peaks on South Arabia’s dusty plain
A roofed gate stands, reminder of a half-forgot campaign,
When once again our servicemen were called upon to fight,
Defending and protecting, (we were told) Great Britain’s might.
But not forgotten, ever, by those who served out there,
Remembering the sweat and stench, the never-ending glare
Of unremitting scorching sun and blessed, welcome relief
As night descended, giving respite from remorseless heat.
Those gates are silent sentinels, through which there is revealed
The graves of those who rest here, in this arid alien field.
They lie, not in the green fields of their rightful native land,
Where flowers bloom and gently wave, by gentle breezes fanned.
Instead, the hard, unyielding ground, volcanic, harsh and dry,
Encloses those who, in the end, came here to fight and die.
Surrounded by gaunt, lofty spires, all stark against the light
Brooding guardians of our countrymen by day and night
They are condemned by history to occupy this earth,
Never able to return to the dear country of their birth,
No loved ones to attend them, no tears will ever fall
On the plain, white simple headstones that lie within this wall.
But this is how it was, in all but very recent years,
And there is consolation knowing willing volunteers
Care for and tend these places sacred to the memory
Of those who gave their lives in the pursuit of liberty.
And not just here in Silent Valley, many other lands
Are hosts to British servicemen and women, where there stand
Headstones engraved with names of those whose fate was finally sealed
To stay forever in the corner of some foreign field.