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Chris Neilson Nov 2017
She lived with her husband in a Manchester suburb
toiling to keep their kid's bellies filled
oblivious to the horrors yet to be lived
"The war to end all wars" and millions killed

From a thread-bare working class
with poorly paid work and a struggle to get by
her future was stolen in August 1914
she didn't have the vote for her husband to die

Tommy and his pals signed up for glory
marching and grinning but gripped by fear
she waved them off with her heart so heavy
as posters warned the Germans would be here

Tommy returned from the front to nurse his wounds
gone was his smile, his whistle in the morn
a haunted look, he couldn't say what he'd seen
she felt sad and lonely, bereft and forlorn

Supporting her husband throughout his trauma
much work to do and mouths to feed
2 years now into this epic madness
more brave cannon fodder was the nation's need

They recalled Tommy for a battle at the Somme
his mental wounds hidden, he stood at the door
she kissed him as he left to meet his maker
she sighed, then cried and collapsed to the floor

On a warm July morning he was sent to his death
cut down in his prime in no man's land
another pointless, tragic waste of a life
most now saw this "Great War" wasn't so grand

She opened the letter bearing the news
they regretted her loss and said they were pained
passed to her loved ones and back again
barely readable now it was so tear-stained

2 months passed and she read some news
they were showing a film at her local cinema
the carnage at the Somme could now be viewed
some family and friends went to see it with her

She saw a body being carried in the trenches
the face of the dead man was screened
that face was Tommy's, she leapt to her feet
"That's him! That's my Tommy!", she screamed

She was led back home to her children
her pain and anguish she could now release
seeing Tommy one last time gave her closure
his face had looked content and finally at peace
In remembrance week, a piece I wrote a few years back. I wrote it from the point of view of a volunteer's wife to give it a slightly different perspective.
Steve Page Jul 2016
The years stung with field gun smoke,
as the stench of accusations hung
among the aging towers of power.
Stark whistles pierced the mourning air
bringing tears to eyes spared any true battle.
And after a respectful silence, sodden with sacrifice,
the drizzled grandchildren turned away
for a Starbucked start of a brand new day.
Standing in the rain, Parliament Square, 7.30 am, 1 July 2016.
Tryst Jul 2016
They lied to us
    with preacher smiles
    at Sunday school

They told us
    our world was created
    in six days

We stood as one
    as our world was created
    in seven days

We stood as one
   as light sprang from darkness
   and earth fell from heaven

And after seven days
    we stood as one
    and marched into hell
Title borrowed from "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen.
Hell, or something close to it,
Or worse;
For they would have longed for the warmth of fire -
To feel more than the sodden stink of their boots
And the thunder of Howitzers in their bones.
But they knew the victory was coming.

Eight days, that would be enough.
Letting death fall
In the half-silence of creeping gas
And the unrelenting barrage of mortar fire
Raining like demonic hail upon the enemy.
They knew that victory was coming.

So they walked, that's all it would take -
A stroll to be heroes.
But all the waiting, enduring, lasting out
To climb up onto the crater-filled sludge,
Mown down in thousands,
And only then did they realise:
Victory was so much further away.
For the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme
R Dickson Jul 2016
Take a moment to stop and stare,
At memorials in your town,
The named names that never came home,
Some had died at The Somme,

No shouts no shots no whistles,
No guns no bangs no shells,
No barbed wire or trenches,
And no gun powder smells,

All is very quite now,
After one hundred years,
Unlike the time the dead were named,
When families shed their tears,

No khaki uniforms no tin hats,
No bayonets to stab a heart,
No body parts no blood no gore,
No grenades to blow you apart,

Silently remembering,
Their memory lingers on,
They fought for King and country,
And died there at The Somme.
Remembering The Somme
Terry Collett May 2016
Each day I come
to Master George's room,
each day, Gripe says,
Polly keep it fresh
just in case.

As soon as
I open the door
I feel a shudder.

I fear he will not return,
that he will remain
in hospital of some kind
for ever, his mind shattered
by this War,
by what he saw,
his wounded mind.

I read that 19,240 men
were killed on the first day
of the Somme,
and 57,470 wounded,
of which he was one.

When will this War be over,
when will it be won?

I walk around
to the window,
and open it up.

Let air in,
refresh the room.

The curtains flap
in the incoming draft,
like wings of a bird
taking off in flight.

I begin to polish
the furniture, even though
I did it yesterday,
and the day before.

I smell him around me,
his scent, his shaving soap,
his having been here.

I look at the bed,
and remember how
we made love there
at his invitation,
me a maid, and he
the young master.

I put down the polish
and duster, and go
and sit on the bed,
bounce it a little.

I stare out at the view
of the window.

Trees sway, birds fly,
clouds drift by.

He kissed each
aspect of me,
kisses everywhere,
his lips there,
and his moustache
tickling me to giggles.

Now he is broken,
mind fragile as aged paper.

When he came
back here briefly,
he spoke of a man's head
sitting by his side
gazing at him,
a hand of one man
lying still on the trench
by his eyes.

I close my eyes,
and want him back,
back here, back mended,
and this War ended.
Maggie Emmett Nov 2015
Sun swollen
reddening as it sank
that brutal ****** disc
scored by church steeples
and chimney stacks
almost lost in the drifting haze
of sulphurous yellow
and char-black smoke.

Duck boards dip
into the sodden earth
as men ***** along in conga lines
holding tight the pack of the man
in front, lest they should slip
lose quick their footing
be ****** down and smothered
by mud.

The walls of the tunnels
are packed earth
rich with blood and bone
bits and pieces of human
anatomy dangle and hang
as if posed by an artist
with a strange and cruel eye
for detail.

The scrabble for fox holes
and rough scraped ditches,
anywhere, below the line of fire.
The ting and ****-bang
of a night of action
The whistle, the dash
and the forward push
counted more in men
than metres.                                                                

© M.L.Emmett
(Inspired by my great grandfather)

Capt: Albert Victor Champion RHA

Children of the Somme, men of mud and water
killed by lead and steel, for them no last supper
no last meal. Children of the Somme, consumed
by mud and water, sent in there thousands
to their slaughter.
Nerves that were shattered,breath that was shallow
felled in fields that were lifeless and fallow.
Hearts that were pounding, bodies that trembled
as in the trenches men assembled.
like an order from god they awaited there place,
to go over the top and stare death in the face.
Men of all nations men of all ages; condemned
to there death and the history books pages.

Lest we forget..................... Remember them.

— The End —