GOT a poem you would like to share with Army&You’s readers? Send it, preferably along with a photograph, to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll feature it in Well-versed. 81-year-old Royal Engineer veteran Alan F. Rees, from Swansea, published his first poetry collection Why in collaboration with the Royal British Legion. The collection confronts the tragedy and sadness of the First World War and humanises the many soldiers who gave their lives for it. Its poignant, powerful, evocative imagery and words bring to life the conditions of the trenches and the situations that these soldiers and their families faced.
What They Really Were
On the eleventh day of the eleventh month
We assemble to recall
The men who for strangers, not yet born
Sacrificed their all.
Their names and ranks are on cenotaphs
In every city and town
But to give such meagre information
Let’s our heroes down.
You would think these men did not exist
Before they went to war
But who and what they really were
Was in what they did before.
Major C.F Peters was a well-known architect
Private E.J Thomas, moulded clay to great effect
Private D.O Davies was a bread delivery man
Lance Corporal N.G Symonds sold wet fish from a van.
Second Lieutenant V.E Morse arranged a mortgage or a loan
Sergeant N.B Bates built homes of real stone
Private R.S Thomas worked on an assembly line
And every move he made- was done in measured time.
Another factory worker, Lance Corporal A.B Ford
Captain T.H Foster-Smythe was the son of an Irish Lord
Private G.C Williams drove an omnibus in Leeds
Private S.A Thomas supplied vegetable seeds.
Not many would mourn the death
Of Lance Corporal L.G Grubb
But many would miss good old Grubby
Who ran the Social Club.
David John had delivered the milk for years
And his loss more important by far
Than how and why the death occurred
Of an unknown Private D.J Carr.
To everyone who suffered loss – one main rule applied
It wasn’t Sergeant or Private so and so who had died
It was David, Peter, Andrew, Adrian or John
Whose life had been forfeited and was forever gone.