Remembrance Sunday 2013

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Remembrance Sunday 2013

Postby apowell » Sun Oct 27, 2013 7:21 pm

I thought this year we could share our favourite poems, personnel stories or songs etc that have touched us and that will help reflect on the sacrifice of the fallen this Remembrance Sunday.

I've always found these poems moving:

by Robert Service

And so when he reached my bed
The General made a stand:
“My brave young fellow,” he said,
“I would shake your hand.”

So I lifted my arm, the right,
With never a hand at all;
Only a stump, a sight
Fit to appal.

“Well, well. Now that’s too bad!
That’s sorrowful luck,” he said;
“But there! You give me, my lad,
The left instead.”

So from under the blanket’s rim
I raised and showed him the other,
A snag as ugly and grim
As its ugly brother.

He looked at each jagged wrist;
He looked, but he did not speak;
And then he bent down and kissed
Me on either cheek.

You wonder now I don’t mind
I hadn’t a hand to offer. . . .
They tell me (you know I’m blind)
’Twas Grand-Père Joffre.

The Veteran
May 1916
by Margaret Postgate

WE came upon him sitting in the sun—
Blinded by war, and left. And past the fence
Wandered young soldiers from the Hand & Flower,
Asking advice of his experience.

And he said this and that, and told them tales;
And all the nightmares of each empty head
Blew into air. Then, hearing us beside—
“Poor kids, how do they know what it’s like?” he said.

And we stood there, and watched him as he sat
Turning his sockets where they went away;
Until it came to one of us to ask
“And you’re—how old?”
“Nineteen the third of May.”

by Siegfried Sassoon

HAVE you forgotten yet?...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same--and War's a bloody game...
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz--
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench--
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, 'Is it all going to happen again?'

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack--
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads--those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.
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Re: Remembrance Sunday 2013

Postby snoopysue » Mon Oct 28, 2013 2:28 pm

Not quite a poem, but something my grandmother wrote in 1976 in a letter to my sister, describing her time in school.

In August 1914 the First World War was upon us, and though it changed our lives, school went on much the same. By this time I was in Standard 5 and we were in a small room. When winter came we were perished. There was no central heating and the rooms had open fires…most of the heat went up the chimney. Those on the back row suffered most.

I remember a song we were taught soon after the war began; it was called “Big Steamers”.

“Oh where are you going to all you big steamers, with England’s own coal up and down the salt seas?
We are going to fetch you your bread and your butter; your beef, pork and mutton, eggs apples and cheese.
And where will you fetch them from all you big steamers, and where shall I write you when you are away?
Address us at Hobart, Quebec and Vancover”
(The next lines I’ve forgotten, but it ended with a grim warning)
“And if anyone hinders our coming, you’ll starve”

Their coming was hindered by German submarines sinking them, and we almost did starve....

....The war was dragging on, we learned to do patching and mending of garments and had knitted socks. Then on Friday afternoons we were given sandbags to sew. These were about a yard and a half made of sacking and oversewn together with string. The seams had to be perfectly straight or they would not stack properly when filled with sand. They were for use in the war.

She would have been nearly ten years old when the war started, and had left school (Holy Trinity Church School, Smethwick)by the end of the war.
When I read this, I always regret never asking her to write about other things in her life, she was pretty good at writing and was known for writing witty poems as a way to get things off her chest!
I've googled the song she recalled - she had a pretty good memory!

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Re: Remembrance Sunday 2013

Postby feral-underclass » Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:59 pm

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Re: Remembrance Sunday 2013

Postby admin » Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:42 pm

Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen is the poem with which I engage the most - almost certainly for reasons which Owen himself would judge to be wrong.

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori", a line from Roman times lifted from Horace's Odes, translates roughly as "It is sweet and right to die for your country". Owen sneers at this sentiment, elucidating with a graphic description of the actuality of war. My 1st cousin twice removed was among those fighting, dying of wounds sustained in the lead up to the Battle of Bazentin Ridge in the Somme. So, like Owen, I detest the abhorrent manner in which they died and despair at the pointlessness of it all.

Conversely though, I'm struck by a greater realisation that, in spite of all the above, our men kept on fighting. Where one man fell, another replaced them. Those at the front line, surrounded by death, didn't question, or didn't flee. They just kept on laying down their lives for the cause. To give their lives without question, entirely selflessly, solely for the benefit of others is, in my opinion, the sweetest and most right thing a person could ever do. Owen's poem becomes a self defeating argument. The horror of war becomes the path to righteousness. The more horrific the battle, the greater the adversity, the more noble the reward.

The final added poignancy is that Owen became a casualty of war himself, dying on November the 4th 1918. His mother received the telegram notifying his death as the bells rang out in celebration on Armistice Day.

Dulce et Decorum Est. Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
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Re: Remembrance Sunday 2013

Postby apowell » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:14 am

Diary of the damned: Never seen before, a lost diary of the Great War so brutally vivid you'll feel YOU are there in the trenches.

Really brings home the horror of war and very moving.

Please view the link below: ... t-War.html
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Re: Remembrance Sunday 2013

Postby apowell » Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:06 am

Many thanks for your contributions and support with over 400 views to this forum.

One final thread I would like to post which I feel is a fitting tribute to bring an end to this years Remembrance Sunday.

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