The whistle blew, the flag unfurled, The guard said "Right away!" The Falkirk friends said a sweet goodbye To the 7th Royal Scots that day. All went on well till Gretna reached, Then- what an awful scene- An accident, the like of which, On the railway, ne'er had been. Fire fire! hark to that awful cry resounding in the air, The dead and dying all around, the wounded everywhere; One long unbroken line of flame, a veritable hell, What painter shall depict the scene, what tongue but truly tell. Scorched by the flames, the doctor and the soldier, everyone Who could assist a comrade there, his duty nobly done, Victoria Crosses oft were given both by a king and queen, For lesser deeds of valour than were done at Gretna Green. They went at duty's stern command to battle o'er the wave, They went to fight for liberty, for glory or the grave: The joke went round, the song went round, unmindful of the foe, The sentiment by all expressed- are we down-hearted? No! No battle-field, no German foes, for them across the foam, That dewy morn, alas for them, a soldier's death at home. A cruel death, a noble death, heroic none more seen, Than those, alas, who perished, at dawn near Gretna Green. And many a gallant soldier speeding home that morn, To all he'd left behind him in the land where he was born. Death he had een left behind, danger he fancied past, While speeding home in the express, grim death had met at last. Can we forget, shall we forget, the exalted One who saith: Even in the midst of life itself, we ever are in death? Can we forget, no never, the horror of that scene, The noble band that perished in historic Gretna Green? And as this awful story ends, This thought will to us cling, How one small duty unfulfilled Will often anguish bring. Thus let us ever play our part, And be at duty's call; That no neglect of ours shall cause Our fellow-man to fall.
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