The Soldier  

If I should die, think only this is of me:

That there's some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England's breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.  


Lieutenant Rupert Brooke Hood Battalion, Royal Naval Division 

Died 23rd April 1915 Aged 27 

  In Flanders Fields

  In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.


Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae  Royal Canadian Medical Corps 

Died of pneumonia 1918 

  Anthem For Doomed Youth

  What passing-bells for these who die as cattle ?

Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle

Can patter out their hasty orisons.

No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;

Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,

The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;

And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all ?

Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes

Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.

The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;

Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,

And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.  

  Lieutenant Wilfred Own, M.C.  2nd Manchester Regiment  

Killed in action 4th November 1918. Aged 25.  

  From An Outpost  

I've tramped South England up and down

Down Dorset way, down Devon way,

Through every little ancient town

Down Dorset way, down Devon way.

I mind the old stone churches there,

The taverns round the market square,

The cobbled streets, the garden flowers,

The sundials telling peaceful hours

Down Dorset way, down Devon way.

  The Meadowlands are green and fair

Down Somerset and Sussex way,

The clover scent is in the air

Down Somerset and Sussex way.

I mind the deep-thatched homesteads there

The noble downlands, clean and bare.

The sheepfolds and the cattle byres,

The blue wood-smoke from shepherd's fires

Down Dorset way, down Devon way.

  Mayhap I shall not walk again

Down Dorset way, down Devon way,

Nor pick a posy in a lane

Down Somerset and Sussex way.

But though my bones, unshriven, rot

In some far distant alien spot,

what soul I have shall rest from care

To know that meadows still are fair

Down Dorset way, down Devon way.


Sergeant Frederick Coulson 12th London Regiment  

A few weeks before he died, Coulson wrote to his father: "If I should fall do not grieve for me. I shall be one with the wind and the sun and the flowers."  

Died of wounds 8th October 1916. Aged 27.  

  The Cross of Wood  


Not now for you the glorious return

To steep Stroud valleys, to the Severn leas

By Tewksbury and Gloucester, or the trees

Of Cheltenham under high Cotswold stern.

For you no medals such as others wear -

A cross of bronze for those approved brave -

To you is given, above a shallow grave,

The Wooden Cross that marks you resting there.

Rest you content, more honourable far

Than all the Orders is the Cross of Wood,

The symbol of self-sacrifice that stood

Bearing the God whose brethren you are.

  Lieutenant Cyril Winterbotham 1/5th Gloucestershire Regiment  

Killed in action 27th August 1916. Aged 29.    

In Memoriam  

So you were David's father,

And he was your only son,

And the new-cut peats are rotting

And the work is left undone,

Because of an old man weeping,

Just an old man in pain,

For David, his son David,

That will not come again.  

Oh, the letters he wrote you,

And I can see them still,

Not a word of the fighting

But just the sheep on the hill

And how you should get the crops in

Ere the year got stormier,

And the Bosches have got his body,

And I was his officer.  

You were only David's father,

But I had fifty sons

When we went up that evening

Under the arch of the guns,

And we came back at twilight

- O God! I heard them call

To me for help and pity

That could not help at all.  

Oh, never will I forget you,

My men that trusted me,

More my sons than your fathers'

For they could only see

The little helpless babies

And the young men in their pride.

They could not see you dying

And hold you while you died.  

Happy and young and gallant,

they saw their first born go,

But not the strong limbs broken

And the beautiful men brought low,

The piteous writhing bodies,

They screamed, "Don't leave me Sir,"

For they were only fathers

But I was your officer.  

Lieutenant Ewart Mackintosh, M.C. 4th Seaforth Highlanders  

Killed in action 21st November 1917. Aged 24.    

I Tracked A Dead Man Down A Trench  

I tracked a dead man down a trench,

I knew not he was dead.

They told me he had gone that way,

And there his foot-marks led.  

The trench was long and close and curved,

It seemed without an end;

And as I threaded each new bay

I thought to see my friend.  

At last I saw his back. He crouched

As still as still could be,

And when I called his name aloud

He did not answer me.  

The floor-way of the trench was wet

Where he was crouching dead;

The water of the pool was brown,

And round him it was red.  

I stole up softly where he stayed

With head hung down all slack,

And on his shoulders laid my hands

And drew him gently back.  

And then, as I had guessed, I saw

His head, and how the crown -

I saw then why he crouched so still,

And why his head hung down.  

Lieutenant Walter Lyon  9th Royal Scots  

Killed in action 8th May 1915. Aged 28.


A dead British soldier in a trench, Guillemont, September 1916  

If We Return  

If We Return, will England be

Just England still to you and me ?

The place where we must earn our bread ?

We, who have walked among the dead,

And watched the smile of agony,

And seen the price of Liberty

Which we have taken carelessly

From other hands. Nay, we shall dread,

If we return.  

Dread lest we behold blood-guiltily

This land that men have died to free,

oh, English fields shall blossom red

For all the blood that has been shed

By men whose guardians are we,

If we return.    


  2nd Lieutenant Frank Harvey, D.C.M.

1/5th Gloucestershire Regiment  

1888 - 1957  

    Known Unto God  

Never again the tears will flow

From eyes that cannot see,

Only dead men here so who will know

Their world that used to be.

  Never again birds in their sky,

No song of life to sing,

No dead men's lips will make reply

Their pain, no scream will bring.  

Never again will memories fall

Upon their unnamed graves,

For mercy will no dead men call

Of silence they are slaves.  

Never again that infernal hell,

The peace will now deceive;

Only dead men here so who can tell,

And anyway who would believe.

  Stephen D.W. Lewis.  


Who Made The Law ?  

Who made the Law that men should die in shadows ?

Who spake the word that blood should splash in lanes ?

Who gave it forth that gardens should be bone-yards ?

Who spread the hills with flesh, and blood, and brains ?

Who made the Law ?  

Who made the Law that Death should stalk the village ?

Who spake the word to kill among the sheaves,

Who gave it forth that death should lurk in hedgerows,

Who flung the dead among the fallen leaves ?

Who made the Law ?  

But who made the Law ? the Trees shall whisper to him:

"See, see the blood - the splashes on our bark !"

Walking the meadows, he shall hear bones crackle,

And fleshless mouths shall gibber in silent lanes at dark.  

Who made the Law ? At noon upon the hillside

His ears shall hear a moan, his cheeks shall feel a breath,

And all along the valleys, past gardens, croft, and homesteads,

HE who made the Law,

He who made the Law,

He who made the Law

shall walk along with Death.

WHO made the Law ?

Leslie Coulson (see From An Outpost)

Dulce et Decorum est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like old hags, we cursed through the 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 tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.


Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting clumsy helmets just in time;

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,

And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...

Dim, through 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 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.

Wilfred Owen


The Garden called Gethsemane
In Picardy it was,
And there the people came to see
The English soldiers pass.
We used to pass -- we used to pass
Or halt, as it might be,
And ship our masks in case of gas
Beyond Gethsemane.

The Garden called Gethsemane,
It held a pretty lass,
But all the time she talked to me
I prayed my cup might pass.
The officer sat on the chair,
The men lay on the grass,
And all the time we halted there
I prayed my cup might pass.

It didn't pass -- it didn't pass --
It didn't pass from me.
I drank it when we met the gas
Beyond Gethsemane.

Rudyard Kipling