GOT a poem you would like to share with Army&You’s readers? Send it, preferably along with a photograph, to and we’ll feature it in Well-versed81-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.

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