Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The One With Remembrance Sunday

25 years ago this week I went on a sixth form excursion to the battlefields in France and Belgium. It was an A level history field trip and it changed my life.

That may sound rather an over dramatic, sweeping statement but it did.

We were studying World War 1, which has left me with a devotion and passion for the war poets to this day. As we walked along the actual trenches of the Somme and visited the endless fields of graves, we were all struck by the waste of all those young lives. 

Of course back then, as a bunch of idealistic 17 year olds, we were going to change the world. Some of our number wore white poppies for peace along with the blood red poppies of remembrance. After two Gulf wars, the conflict in Afghanistan, 9/11 and the London Tube bombings I doubt they do now.

Now peace seems like a luxury. Remembrance is a necessity. In my eyes anyway.

On Sunday, when I chatted to a friend on Twitter who was actually there on that field trip I suddenly remembered a poem I wrote some years later about the experience.

Yes you heard correctly. A poem.

I haven't written much poetry over the years but occasionally the mood takes me. I have never shared any of it with anyone before. Ever. But somehow this feels right and sums up how I felt then and now.

And yes we really did have Kate Bush The Whole Story playing on the tape deck of the coach and Army Dreamers came on just as we first saw the fields of graves. I also did fall arse over tit in a trench and get covered in mud!

So here it is. Wear your poppy with pride.


Have you been there?

Have you seen it?

Did you trip up in a trench?

Did you laugh your teenage socks off?

Cos you couldn’t smell the stench.

Playing Kate Bush “Army Dreamers’

As the coach went passing by

Then we saw the fields of endless graves

And we all began to cry.

Now I’ll always buy a Poppy

To commentate their fate

And remind me how we stood there

Sobbing tears at Menin Gate.

Just a bunch of idealistic kids

But when the truth was told

The facts are bigger than ideals

And make your blood run cold.

The boys who died at just 16

The husbands, fathers, sons

Sent out to meet their slaughter

Ready with their guns.

The endless names on massive tombs,

The endless lines of graves.

Babies ripped from mother’s wombs,

And not one we could save.

Buried where they’ve fallen

It’s more than just a shame

The hopeless sense of heartbreak

For graves without a name.

And when we crossed the channel

We’d still hear their battle call

We’d all returned much altered

But they’d not come back at all.

So I always buy a poppy

To commemorate the dead

And say thank you to the living

With “Army Dreamer’s in my head.


  1. Thank you. I'm so touched you like it. Your opinion means so much to me as it always has done all the years I've known you and the fact you like it makes me very happy. x

  2. I love poetry, it is so much more personal in a way than blog writing. The ability to capture emotion in such a format is so skilful.
    I like the way that your work starts with obvious teenage high jinks prior to the realisation of the horror of the history there.
    I like the fact that you are sharing something today from your own teenage point of view. Whilst your words may change if you wrote it today I bet you’ll not capture the emotion again, it’s akin to sharing an old photo in a way, a snap shot in time.

    1. Thank you for your comment. It was a very personal thing for me to put that poem on here as I've never shown anyone before. When you blog you bare a bit of yourself and your soul but sharing poetry is so much more exposing than that so the positive reaction I've had is amazing. x

  3. Lovely poem Georgy, simple but very effective as poems should be. I wonder if you have heard of singer/songwriter Eric Bogle. Two of his songs were voted the best anti war songs of the last century (not the one we're in now) by the people that monitor such things. The songs "No mans Land" sometimes known as the " Green fields of France" and " "And the Band played Waltzing Matilda" evoke much of the feelings you have addressed with your words. If you don't know them check them out, listen carefully to the lyrics I think you will be moved. Keep Writing. Jim

    1. Thank you Jim. That's lovely. I'm so pleased you liked it. I will look Eric Bogle up as I'm sure I'll enjoy his songs if you do. x