(Fragment from the Battle of Arnhem)

Mortar projectiles
Agitated like wasps –
Pricked with the stings of death.
After each salvo
Lifeless sheaves of uniforms
Laid on the ground…
Lined with the red of blood.

The setting sun, blushing
With shame – hid itself –
By boughs of ruptured trees.
As – the entire day was stained
With the purper of blood…

In the trench of two Poles
A burly “Red Devil”*
Found hospitality.
He took cover from – yet another
Of countless German attacks,
Since he used to hand out –
Apples to his starving soldier brothers,
The Dutch kind, picked at night,
In the garden – adjoining the woods.

Over the shelter of the two Poles
The air howled with a bang,
As if – infernal courtyards
Opened their infernos,
With the chuckle of a thousand devils.
And – a while later followed
This – short, uncertain silence,
Broken by a dolorous cry.
We hastened there with Frank,
To explore the situation on site –
The “Red Devil”, his beret
Slid down over his eyes,
Grimaced painfully –
And – slightly opened his lips,
As if he wanted to whisper something…
But, the words did not reach further
Than his wounded – chest.
Choking on blood –
He passed away under our hands…

Jan Zbigniew Raschke
(translation: Klaas Seinhorst)

* British parachutists were often called “Czerwony Diabeł” – “Red Devil” – because they wore red berets.
The soldiers of the Polish First Independent Parachutist Brigade wore ash grey berets.