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Remembrance Poems and Readings

Edited by
David Roberts

More information about this collection of poems and readings for Remembrance Day and Peace Events



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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

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Last Post

Spats cover

Polluted boots

With a Sam Browne strapped

To a spit and polish belt

Tightened by the sergeant

Holding him there

Completely trapped.

Deathly still


Mourning loss

Hobnailed by the flagpole

With a drooping ensign

In a two-minute silence

Like three hours on a cross.

Numb lips

This November

And another year

As the guns die down

In posthumous salute

While the note splits

In the mouth of momentary fear.  

The bugle fades

Echoing round

As darkness descends

On Greenwich Mean Time

Across Whitehall

And the sands of an Afghan desert

While Calvary shares the silence.

Crinkled leaves

Float down

On their parachute trip

With legions of poppies

Papered for today

As a tear rolls down

To a stiff upper lip.

Teeth chatter

Feet freeze

With winter ahead

On count-down to Reveille

And the beginning of spring

While sheathed swords

Honour the glorious dead.

Paul du Plessis


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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.

John Bailey

May 2011

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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''.


The Volunteer

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

Remembrance Sunday

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.

Maria Cassee

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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


At 11.

James Love

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 Harkins1981

David Harkins (painter)  Silloth, Cumbria, UK

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Turkish Memorial to British and ANZAC troops

Introduced by David Cameron (UK Prime Minister):  

"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.

Turkish Memorial

“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 - 1938

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."

Part of David Cameron’s speech at the Imperial War Museum, 11 October 2012.)

David Roberts, Editor, The War Poetry website. 


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