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The men, each with a green beret on, marched like an identical band of brothers around the parade square. A command, impossible to understand, came echoing from the centre and the squad came to a swift halt.

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Introduction

Recruitment. The bright sun pounded down on the dead, empty parade square. An army of motionless shadows stretched across the steaming grey, lifeless tarmac, with only the rhythmic sound of heavy breathing coming from them. Their robust chests, sticking out with a false sense of braveness, bore bulky medals for some. Among them was a strong smell of shoe polish polluting the air which made noses twitch and quiver with repulsion. Endless ranks of men stood eager to move, their black, spotless rifles symmetrically placed on their right shoulders. The shiny black barrel, made for death, innocently sucked in all colour around it; the wooden handle and butt, highly waxed, held the brass magazine in place; the aiming sights, now folded down were reflecting shapes of light onto the green shirts of the man in front. Each man's dull matt-green uniform, with perfect creases running down both trouser legs and down each sleeve, blended in with each other so well it was hard to make out the individual faces. The men, each with a green beret on, marched like an identical band of brothers around the parade square. ...read more.

Middle

I was only sixteen, I had lied to get in, and it was something I couldn't resist: joining the army, wearing the uniform, and holding a rifle. For Queen and Country they told us, and I believed them. The Officers looked him up and down, and to my surprise they said nothing about it. I was so surprised by this that my mind wondered and missed a major part of the conversation. Shortly afterwards he too was sent off to join the other squad. Quickly, before they came to me I glanced down at my shoes; they were, as always both equally polished with mirrored caps. My welts were likewise, clean and polished, but I was still nervous. The two Officers stood in front of me. The one I had never seen before was a good two inches shorter than the Flight Lieutenant, but displayed many more colourful badges and medals on the left breast pocket of his uniform. His face was a pale yellow, which gave the sense of an unhealthy illness. His eyes, still bright and alert were a deep shade of brown and saddened. The scars on his face, some still pink with freshness, sickened his already beaten condition. ...read more.

Conclusion

They were all dirty, and sick. Some had the same sadness in their faces as the older Officer. The lucky ones had bandages covering their wounds, as for the ill fated others, their wounds were still fresh, as if waiting for infection. Others were limping along or being carried by others, for they had lost one or both their legs. They stumbled past me, the scent of death in the air as they did so. I watched them go past and in turn gazed at their faces. It was as if they were haunted. They had eyes I had never seen before. It was as if death had come, but spared their lives. Now their skulls scarred with images of the horror that was out there. The excitement died within me. My eyes dropped. I couldn't bear to watch. It felt as if all the air had been sucked out of me. I felt faint. So much death, so much pain. Only then did I realise where I was going. By agreeing to go, I had just sentenced myself to death. I was leaving, leaving to die. Die, all because I thought I felt brave in my uniform, all because it was what all the posters said. Only then did I realise that war wasn't a game that can be won by victory, only by loss. ...read more.

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