See the white crosses at the top of the hill Where foreign winds do blow The chill air is haunting and all is still Where the ghosts do gently moan Young Tommy Atkins is with them He never reached his eighteenth year It broke his poor mother's heart in two She never saw her young son again
Mary Johnson would never wed Through the passing of long years Yet the saddest grief must surely fade After long and bitter tears But young Tommy Atkins stole her heart To take wherever he did go And he lies in a field forgotten now Far away from where the flowers of England do grow
With the eyes and ears of history Can we judge both king and pawn And can we point the finger of guilt At the graves of those who were shot at dawn
Tommy Atkins was a daring soul As brave as any man But a scapegoat cannot defend itself When it's made to carry the can The disease was never diagnosed He was marched out in the early dawn And did they hide the disgrace of cowards When they had him shot at dawn
Does the conscience of kings Hide a brotherhood of thieves That plucked the rose from the thorn Can we wipe the blood from those fingers That had flowers of England shot at dawn
Now the swelling pride of history Casts a shadow over graves Where flowers once bloomed and took the wind But now the winds have changed A fabled path of glory Long trodden carries on Remembering those who gave their lives While condemning those shot at dawn
"So praise the heroes yea none but the brave Three cheers for our favourite sons A blood red poppy for a red English rose And a curse on those cowards who were shot at dawn"
Is the simple question of life and death One we can all understand And will the question be ringing in your ears "For what died the flowers of England?"