THE WAR POETRY WEBSITE
Remembrance poems in a traditional vein (Page two)
New Generation Veterans
We honour our old veterans, we honour them with pride
and read of all the horrors they have carried deep inside.
We know they served in Asia or New Guinea’s highland rains,
Vietnam or in Africa where many men were slain.
We know that fateful landing on Gallipoli’s dark shore,
wherever Aussies fought, we know there are so many more,
but now a new young generation needs our help as well,
they too have been to war and suffer with their private hell.
Though losses are not classed as great, their fears are just the same
those electronic hidden bombs, still injure, kill or maim.
They fight against an enemy they find so hard to see
who mingle in the market place, then cause much tragedy.
Insurgents in Afghanistan hide in the rough terrain
or roaming in Iraq, where, wearing robes they look the same.
The suicide stealth bombers, don’t care who they hurt or kill,
then, with their own beliefs, they try to break our forces will.
Our fighting Aussie spirit shows on any foreign land,
they’re in the skies, they’re on the sea, or on the desert sand.
Now many are returning with the horrors they still see
and living with their nightmares, suffering bureaucracy.
I know on ANZAC day, we all remember with a tear,
but all vets young or old, they need our help throughout the year,
support and listen to their stories, when they do get told,
lets honour our new veterans, just like we do our old.
David J Delaney
10 February 2010
With a Sam Browne strapped
To a spit and polish belt
Tightened by the sergeant
Holding him there
Hobnailed by the flagpole
With a drooping ensign
In a two-
Like three hours on a cross.
And another year
As the guns die down
In posthumous salute
While the note splits
In the mouth of momentary fear.
The bugle fades
As darkness descends
On Greenwich Mean Time
And the sands of an Afghan desert
While Calvary shares the silence.
On their parachute trip
With legions of poppies
Papered for today
As a tear rolls down
To a stiff upper lip.
With winter ahead
And the beginning of spring
While sheathed swords
Honour the glorious dead.
Paul du Plessis
Life and Soul of the Mess
"Life and Soul of the Mess is a comment on how lost comrades are remembered and live on within their units long after they are gone, particularly whenever soldiers gather together in their bar or mess."
Life and Soul of the Mess
Take some time every now and then
Think back and say ‘I remember when’
You were as brothers you and they
Sent by your country into the fray
To a land of sun, dried dirt and dust
Where dollars may rent loyalty, but you built trust
Where from flowering death they eek out a living
Or take what they can from whoever is giving
You carried all you needed on aching back
Tabbing mile on mile awaiting the crack
As from a mile away a sniper takes you
Or the land beneath erupts to break you
Now you’re at home and carrying on
While others you knew they’re now gone
Their laughter is missed but their faces you spy
When asleep or briefly out the corner of an eye
So growing older don’t let memories soften
Drink to their names, let them cross your lips often
For all the stone and the brass, it counts for ‘ought
If we forget the names of those that fought.
About John Bailey and The Volunteer
John Bailey is a former regular and now serving Territorial Army soldier who served in Afghanistan in 2008.
In 2009 a member of his unit, Corporal Steven Boote, was killed along with four others by a rogue Afghan policeman.
He spent the day in Wootton Bassett the day their bodies were repatriated and that night he wrote this poem as a comment on TA service in general but more importantly as a tribute to ''Booty''.
Over one hundred years we’ve been falling in
Side by side our regular brethren
By some once regarded as second rate
Our efforts overcome all derision of late
For times have changed, many wars having passed
And still we fight whenever we’re asked
One night a week, twelve weekends a year
We say our farewells and don our gear
We learn, we train, keep ourselves fit
Until the day we’re told ‘‘this is it’’
Where gaps would be we fill the roll
But on our numbers, this takes its toll
So in lining street and bowing head
We join a Wiltshire town to mourn our dead
And Padres lead us in November cold
As we march in ranks and crowds behold
Before cenotaph we bring to mind
All fallen comrades and those left behind
Or alone while reading a name on a wall
We quietly hope no others will fall
Politicians come and then they go
And we wonder if they truly know
What it takes from kin who sit and pray
Please don’t volunteer, don’t go away
But who hug and kiss and say they’ll write
Not blame us for going, as well they might
For we have a choice and we choose to serve
This takes courage, this takes nerve
Reassuring families that we’ll take care
When we know fine well it’s dangerous there
But still we’re needed and so still we go
Long may this continue, let’s hope so
For though volunteers aren’t worth ten other men
At least others aren’t called so often then
And what is asked for the service we give
No high praise or riches if we should live
Just silence from friends, our name on a wall
If this time around, it is I that fall
John Bailey November 2009
On a cold November Sunday morn, an old man sits a while
Looking though old photographs, he can’t help but smile
They’re all there, all the boys, with hair cut short and neat
Uniforms of khaki, strong black boots upon their feet.
They met as strangers but soon became like brothers to the end
Smiling at the camera, there could be no truer friends.
They all took the Queen’s shilling, went off to fight the hun,
Soon learnt the pain of loss once the fighting had begun.
So many never made it home, lost on foreign shores
Many more were injured and would be the same no more.
The old man’s eyes mist with tears as he remembers every face
Each of his fallen brothers and the killing which took place
He proudly dons his beret, his blazer and his tie
For today he will remember the ones who fell and died.
On his chest there is a poppy, a blaze of scarlet on the blue
He steps out into the cold, he has a duty he must do
Once at the cenotaph he stands amongst the ranks
Of those who marched to war and those who manned the tanks,
He bows his head in reverence, as the last post begins to play
And he wonders what will happen at the ending of his days
Will anyone remember? Will anybody care?
About the lads so far from home whose life was ended there?
I wish that I could tell him, that he should fear not
For this soldier and his brothers will NEVER be forgot
We owe a debt of gratitude that we can never pay
And this country WILL remember them, on each Remembrance day.
That hour has come
As has that day
The Sunday's awe
The dead are still dead
The fighting carries on
The dying, continue die
Till next year then
James Love fought in the Falklands War. There are more of his poems on the Falklands pages of this website which are listed on the MODERN WAR POETRY index page.
He is gone
You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left
Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
David Harkins (painter) Silloth, Cumbria, UK
Turkish Memorial to British and ANZAC troops
"For me, one of the most powerful things I have ever seen is the monument erected by the Turks in Gallipoli. Think of the bloodshed. Think of the tens of thousands of Turkish dead.
And then listen to the inscription to our boys and those from Commonwealth countries that fell.
“Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours.
You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they become our sons as well.”
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
Founder of Modern Turkey, First President, 1923 -
David Cameron continued: “For me those words capture so much of what this is all about. That from such war and hatred can come unity and peace. A confidence and determination never to go back.
However frustrating and however difficult the debates in Europe, 100 years on we sort out our differences through dialogue at meetings around conference tables…
…not through the battle on the fields of Flanders or the frozen lakes of Western Russia."
Talking about commemorating the 100th anniversary of of the First World War he also said . . .
"Our duty with these commemorations is clear.
To honour those who served.
To remember those who died.
And to ensure that the lessons learnt live with us for ever.
And that is exactly what we will do."
David Roberts, Editor, The War Poetry website.
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Remembrance pages on The War Poetry Website
Remembrance poems in a traditional vein -