Joe Glenton

Joe Glenton is an ex-British soldier who fought in Afghanistan before refusing to complete his tour because of his opposition to the war. After facing harassment and bullying from his commanding officers, though solidarity from his fellow soldiers, he was court-martialed and sentenced to jail. Both before and after his prison term he has been a vocal and active campaigner against what he sees as a brutal, imperialist war in Afghanistan. He is the kind of brave and reasoned voice that ought to be commended and celebrated. That he is instead hounded, silenced and locked up is in itself revealing.

 

Guitar tuning: Csus2 (CGCGCD)

Lyrics

(Ewan McLennan)

 

He joined the forces when he was young

And fell right into their hands

The story was spun, a steady wage and adventures

Fighting terror in foreign lands

This life of a soldier it thrilled and enticed him

As no other job had done

He’d read and was told of the beauty of freedom

That’s spread by our planes and our guns

 

After two years of service in Colchester barracks

Transporting bullets and shells

Through the ranks ran a murmur as the orders were given

The excitement rose and it fell

But as they descended to Kandahar city

A grim silence fell over the plane

Shots of the mortars rang in the distance

Like threats from the sky turning grey

 

 

Chorus:

Joe Glenton, he has been sentenced

For refusing to fight and to kill

The sharp eyes of the judge and the cold cuffs were on him

As he was led away to the cell

 

 

The days and the weeks stumbled into each other

The months were soon passing him by

The only thing leaving the compound were coffins

And rockets tore through the night sky

Reports came daily of villages bombed

To frighten insurgents away

Reports came daily of villages bombed

Only bones and ashes remained

 

While these embers were smouldering the story unfolding

Led him to question the cause

All we have brought here and all we will leave

Are the scars and the tissues of war

And as their mission drew to a close

He vowed that he’d never return

He told his captain who threatened and screamed

That these thoughts were not a soldiers concern

 

Chorus:

Joe Glenton, he has been sentenced

For refusing to fight and to kill

The sharp eyes of the judge and the cold cuffs were on him

As he was led away to the cell

 

 

On returning home he was faced with a choice,

To resist or return to the front

But the villagers’ cries and the generals’ lies

He’d made up his mind to confront

And on the day he walked out of the barracks

To the squaddies shouts of support

In the face of treason he laid down his reason

And threw off the terrors of war

 

Soon the military tried to throw him in jail

And banned him from speaking his mind

But Joe Glenton continued to follow his conscious

Through the sharp days, the grit and grind

Armed with only his story and all he had witnessed

He travelled and gave his account

Under threat of arrest as he rose to address

The crowds soon gathered around

 

Chorus:

Joe Glenton, he has been sentenced

For refusing to fight and to kill

The sharp eyes of the judge and the cold cuffs were on him

As he was led away to the cell

 

After months of dispute and hounding pursuit

They caught him and brought him to trial

The judge rose to address the military court

And sentenced Joe Glenton to jail

No medals or crosses of gold or of bronze

Are pinned to Joe Glenton’s lapel

No handshakes or service for his courage and conscience

Instead condemned to rebel

 

So he’s served his time to the prison clock’s chime

Of nine months that were buried and gone

Back out on the streets, unrepentant, unbroken

Still determined to take the fight on

He wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last

To stand up and utter those tones

Still the words of a rebel shake and unnerve them

As other young soldiers look on

 

 

Chorus:

Joe Glenton, he has been sentenced

For refusing to fight and to kill

The sharp eyes of the judge and the cold cuffs were on him

As he was led away to the cell

 

Joe Glenton, he was sentenced

But the criminals dance free today

They were many before him, there’ll be many after

Who question instead of obey

 

 

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