Elergy For Joe Warnock

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Elergy For Joe Warnock

Died November 1943 at Tamarkan, Thailand


Dysentry, Pellagra, Beri - Beri, Malaria and Tiredness of Life


Sydney  Hunphreys



The bed space next to mine is empty now.

The split cane shelf of yellow-green bamboo

On which we cram the few possessions lelt

And lie and try to rest when work is through

Has now a cold, forbidding, staring gap -

A space that no-one yet has moved to fill.

Although our shoulders touch and elbows dig,

That space is Joe's and Joe reserves it still.


Joe Warnock left us at the darkest hour,

The palm-oil lamplight casting darker shades

Across his shrunken face and hollowed eyes,

And with the fading lamp Joe also fades.

Where, for the living there is no escape,

He finds the way that brings for him release

From pain and fever, bugs and lice and dirt

And leads to his own Heaven and to peace.


So on a rice-sack Joe was carried out

And placed with others who had died last night

And wait to join the daily grey cortege

That takes them to the grave and gone from sight.

But has he really gone? if we look back

Will Joe not still be lying as before,

His threadbare blanket round his shrunken frame?

But no, we'll hear his Belfast burr no more.


The bed space next to mine is empty now.

Joe Wamock's gone and I have said goodbye.

The friendship that began three years ago

At Scarborough where we trained with hopes so high

Has ended in this pit at Tamarkan,

And he who went through life without a frown

Ran out of wish or will to stay alive

And laid his cruel burden down.




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