War Poems thread - please come in and comment!

Discussions on every day life in the Weimar Republic, pre-anschluss Austria, Third Reich and the occupied territories. Hosted by Vikki.
User avatar
Gerry Chester
Posts: 104
Joined: 24 Jan 2003 18:39
Location: Now world traveller, UK, Bali, USA

Post by Gerry Chester » 17 Nov 2004 00:48

Here is another of Jack Neilson's poems.

African Victory
Written 13 May 1943 while recovering from wounds in 36th General Hospital, Algiers. His tank was knocked out Friday, 30th April 1943 - the only Churchill of the North Irish Horse lost to a Panzer during the Tunisian Campaign.

As a preface Jack wrote:
"In the flush of Victory I noticed that every soldier in Hospital wore a wristwatch or ring, 'presents from loved ones'.
One thought of the cost of victory, the dead at Sedjenane and Longstop, each dead soldier wearing some token of love and so representing not a mere individual, but a person whose manner of living influenced others, who thus became poorer because of that death. Thus victory for the soldier is not something to be lightly celebrated: to the soldier, victory and dead friends are bracketed together."

Rommel's rout,
Church bells peal gaily,
Victory's price paid freely
From Greenhill to Longstop -
All the Medjerda Valley -
From Bizerte to Tunis -
Ours by conquest.
Paid for yard by yard,
With dead soldiers
Men and boys
Wearing wrist watches,
Presents from loved ones.
Through mud and through blood,
To the green fields beyond.
Beyond the green fields,
And lurking round the bend
Death, the inevitable friend
Freedom's cost -
Paid by us!
Freedom's Torch -
Yours to keep flaming!
Remember the dead soldiers
Men and boys,
Wearing wrist watches
Presents from loved ones.

User avatar
Forum Staff
Posts: 3300
Joined: 08 Jul 2003 01:35
Location: Amerika

Post by Vikki » 21 Nov 2004 03:13

I came across a copy of the poem that is usually titled In Flanders Fields, and was surprised to learn two things: the sheet I found titles the poem We Shall Not Sleep, and there was another poem written as an answer to it, called America's Answer.

Although Dan Weakley posted In Flanders Fields early in this thread, I thought I'd post it again, to show how the "Answer" goes with it, and also the notes from the sheet that both were printed on:

We Shall Not Sleep

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 amidst 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.

Take up our quarrel with the foe,
To you from failing hands we throw the Torch---
Be yours to hold it high;
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

America's Answer

Sleep on, brave lads, where poppies blow
Between the Crosses, row on row;
They mark the places where ye fell,
Amid the flaming fires of hell,
In Flanders fields.

Ye may be dead---but still ye live!
Your courage unto us ye give
To turn the barb'rous foe to flight,
Till none remain to place their blight
In Flanders fields.

Take up your quarrel with the foe?
'Tis taken up, brave lads, for lo,
The Torch ye threw we lift on high!
We break no faith with you who die!
We keep that faith, e'en though we lie
Close by your side where poppies blow
In Flanders fields.


In behalf of the brave men who enlisted in the fight
of right against might we print this beautiful lyric of
the war, "We Shall Not Sleep," written by Lieutenant-
Colonel Dr. John McCrae, of Montreal, Canada,
together with "America's Answer," by Frederick A.
Reiter. The poem was written by Lieutenant-Colonel
McCrae while the second battle of Ypres was in progress.
His body now lies buried in Flanders fields.

User avatar
Richard Hedlund
Posts: 540
Joined: 27 Oct 2004 16:15
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Post by Richard Hedlund » 24 Nov 2004 20:11

America's Answer
A very touching poem. Thanks for sharing.

User avatar
P-51 Baby
Posts: 35
Joined: 13 Nov 2004 22:54
Location: Canada

Post by P-51 Baby » 25 Nov 2004 08:38

Lightnings in the Sky

Oh, Hedy Lamarr is a beautiful gal,
And Madeleine Carrol is too.
But you'll find, if you query,
a different theory
amoungst any bomber crew.
For the loveliest thing
of which one could sing
this side of the Heavenly Gates,
is no blonde or brunette
of the Hollywood set,
but an escort of P-38s.

Yes, in days that have passed,
when the tables were massed
With glasses of scotch or champagne,
It's quite true that the sight
was a thing to delight us,
Intent upon feeling no pain.
But no longer the same,
nowadays, in this game,
When we head north
from Messlina Straights,
Take the sparkling wine--every time
just make this mine
An escort of P-38s.

Byron, Shelley, and Keats
ran a dozen dead heats
Describing the view from the hills,
Of the valleys in May
When the winds gently sway
An army of bright daffodils.
Take the daffodils
Byron--the wild flowers, Shelley--
Yours in the myrtle, Friend Keats;
Just reserve me those cuties
--American Beauties--
An escort of P-38s

Sure, we're braver than hell,
on the ground all is swell,
in the air it's a different story.
We sweat out our track,
through the fighters and flak,
we're willing to split up the glory.
Well they wouldn't reject us,
so Heaven protect us,
and until all the shooting abates,
give us courage to fight 'em,
and one other small item,
An Escort of P-38s!

Tech. Sgt. Robert H. Bryson

Taken from the Lockheed "Star", 1943:
The following was written by Tech. Sgt. Robert H. Bryson, Radio Operator-Gunner, which on an unescorted mission in a B-17 Flying Fortress over North Africa.

I just love the rhyme scheme in this poem. And you can't go wrong with P-38s! :wink:
A Prayer to St. Peter

Let them in Peter
For they are very tired
Give them couches where the angels sleep
And light those fires
Let them wake whole again
To brand new dawns
Fired by the sun
Not wartime's bloody guns
May their peace be deep
Remember where their broken bodies lie
God knows how young they were to have to die
Give them things they like
Let them make some noise
Give dance hall bands
Not golden harps
To these our boys
Give them summer
Like a ripened pear
Girls sweet as meadow winds
With flowing hair
Tell them how they are missed
But say not to fear
It's gonna be all right
With us down here
There's an Edwin McCain song on his album "Messenger" that uses this poem. It's one of my favorite songs from his album and worth a go if you like acoustic guitar arrangements. I think it was etched onto a hospital wall by a WWII soldier, but don't take my word on it.


User avatar
Sun Tsu
Posts: 359
Joined: 27 Feb 2004 18:04
Location: Sweden (Gothenburg atm)

Post by Sun Tsu » 25 Nov 2004 12:37

Absolutely wonderful, those two...
And it's nice to see some more poems on this site

(I'm afraid I myself don't have any to shre with you)

User avatar
Posts: 5016
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 02:45
Location: North America

Post by Annelie » 04 Dec 2004 17:09

Just discovered this thread....


Two of my favorites have already been submitted but then its very
difficult to have favorites :(


User avatar
Siegfried Wilhelm
Posts: 744
Joined: 17 Jun 2002 15:19
Location: Kleinkleckersdorf, NC, Confederate States of America

Post by Siegfried Wilhelm » 05 Dec 2004 15:36

We buried them darkly at dead of night,
The sod with our bayonets turning;
By the struggling moonbeams misty light,
And the lanterns dimly burning.
Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face of the dead,
And we bitterly thought of the morrow.
But half our heavy task was done,
When the clock tolled the hour for retiring;
And we heard the distant and random gun
That the foe was sullenly firing.

W.A. Kessy

User avatar
Financial supporter
Posts: 203
Joined: 21 Oct 2004 21:17
Location: Missouri, USA

Post by Kaiserzeit » 09 Dec 2004 07:41

Here's a poem my grandfather carried with him towards the end of WW2:


Ich brauche eine Hand, die mich umhegt
Treusam und weich am Abend und am Morgen.
Die Liebend sich auf meinen Scheitel legt,
Und von der Stirne streicht die grauen Sorgen.
Ich brauche eine Hand, die mich umhegt,
Und die es fuhlt, wenn meine Seele leidet,
Die mich im tiefsten Schmerze wortlos liebt,
Und so sich von den anderen unterscheidet.

And my best translation:


I need a hand to nurture me
Faithful and gentle in evening and morning,
That lies upon my head lovingly
And wipes the gray sorrows from my mind.
I need a hand, which surrounds me
And senses when my soul is suffering,
That will silently love me in my deepest sorrow
And so very different from all others.

(author unknown)



In memoriam
Posts: 1588
Joined: 13 Mar 2002 01:17
Location: Houston, Texas

Post by walterkaschner » 09 Dec 2004 07:59

That's extremely moving, Kaiserzeit - thanks so much for sharing it.

Regards, Kaschner

User avatar
Klaus Yurk
Financial supporter
Posts: 1364
Joined: 15 May 2004 03:15
Location: Lincoln, Ne.

Post by Klaus Yurk » 11 Dec 2004 17:53

Thanks Kaiserzeit. And all the others. I'm glad to see more poems in this thread.


User avatar
Posts: 73
Joined: 10 Dec 2004 03:33
Location: UK

Post by Ezri » 12 Dec 2004 05:33

The Legacy.

Bullets passed through bodies
screams echoed through the night
a lone soldier, head down, motionless
in the middle of the fight.
His gun was cocked and ready
waiting for the go
as he wondered if the morning light
was ever going to show.
The following silence deafened him
in slow fear he turned around
and whimpered when he saw
his bloody comrades on the ground.
No longer could he stay there
and quickly making his retreat
he fell into a bloody puddle
tripping over the dead's sprawled feet.
There he lay until daylight came
a growing madness in his eyes
his face was pale and laced with sweat
and still hearing the battles cries
his body jerked away in shock
and in reaching for his gun
he recalled the conflict's end
the battle lost
but the war long won.
The realisation struck him
he was safe at home again
and tears of sadness stung his eyes
as he yearned for his lost friends.
So he closed his eyes, to dream once more
from the safety of his bed.
To slip home to the trenches
and walk back amongst the dead.
Copyright D.S.

All crits gratefully recieved.

In memoriam
Posts: 1588
Joined: 13 Mar 2002 01:17
Location: Houston, Texas

Post by walterkaschner » 18 Dec 2004 10:20

I just came across the following couplet by Rudyard Kipling, written on the occasion of his son's death on the battlefield in World War I:

"If anyone should ask why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied."

Regards, Kaschner

User avatar
Andy H
Forum Staff
Posts: 15315
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 20:51
Location: UK and USA

Post by Andy H » 26 Dec 2004 21:40

Distance is swept by the smooth
Rotations of power, its staring
Feelers multiplying our eyes for us,
Marking objects' range and bearing

Linked to them, guns rehearse
Calculated obedience; echoes of light
Trigger the shadowing needle, determine
The arrest of the night

Control is remote;feelings, like hands
Gloved by space.Responsibility is shared, too.
And destroying the enemy by radar
We never see what we do

Sub-Lt Alan Ross, RNVR (Radar)

User avatar
red devil
Financial supporter
Posts: 629
Joined: 25 Nov 2004 02:11
Location: Sutton Coldfield England

Post by red devil » 02 Jan 2005 17:42

I wrote one a while back


The grey dawn mist swirled over the morning dew
A still stiff spider attempts to build its web anew
The grey dawn mist crosses over the field in eddies
Twisting around the hard, stiff, soldier's body

The grey dawn mist touches the cold metal of a tank
Inside it is carnage, burnt remains there stank
The grey dawn mist condenses upon the metal gun
Forming droplets which fall down, upon another son

The grey dawn mist begins to clear itself away
To prepare for the coming of yet another day
Many sons and husbands could see, now never would
The grey dawn mist lifts into the sky, over the wood

The poppy, it is growing at the edge of the wood
There is nowhere else left here that it could
It stands there alone, it's eyes shut tight
It has been that way throughout the night

It does not wish to see the carnage around
The blood and the bodies upon this ground
The dawn is now with us, the sun rising higher
The cold grey mist is now bidding goodbye

The sun arises, and kisses the air and the sky
This single poppy will now open an eye
And turn to caress the warmth of the day
But the carnage is still there, it will not go away

The battle that raged oh so a few hours ago
Saw man against man, so many lives did go
And to what purpose? Some say for a cause
How did so many hearts stop, did they not even pause?

The cold grey bodies have drawn their last breath
The cold grey bodies lying here mangled in death
Some mother somewhere will soon get a bad line
That tells of her son's demise and of the time

She will mourn for the son that she will never see
The mother will cry for her son, even in her sleep
For why did he have to die on that field so far?
Staring up at the sky, at that same twinkling star

Is my son up in heaven? Will he sleep now and rest?
Will he remember all those times that were the best?
Will the enemy rejoice in my son's sad goodbye?
Or will a mother in their country wipe a tear from her eye?

The sun has arisen, the soldier's move one time more
As the angel's remove him to a far happier shore
They take one last look back at the land of their birth
Take leave to paradise, to enjoy what they are worth

For the first time in ages, the bells ring out loud
The war is now over, the cheer's of the crowds
But for these dead remains, it all came too late
If for this last battle, they could have said "wait!"

They could have gone home, instead of in shrouds
To the acclaim of the people, a parade and so proud
But no, they will never again see the land of their birth
They died in a field of mud, oh! What was it all worth?

Remember us, they call from times that have passed
Remember us, they call from graves of green grass
Don't forget what we did in the name of humanity
Never again should we stoop to such insanity.
The End (or is it?)

Not brilliant but?=. A Friend gave me the idea, a girl in Canada was doing a project on poppy day about 3 years ago or more.

User avatar
Lord Gort
Posts: 2014
Joined: 07 Apr 2002 14:44
Location: United Kingdom: The Land of Hope and Glory

Post by Lord Gort » 05 Jan 2005 23:54

Read some pretty moving poems here recently, and the ones people have taken to write themselves arent short on power themselves.

I was wondering if anyone new of poems that have been written recelty in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Lets hope 2005 has less reason than previsous years for the writing of war poetry.......

Friendly Regards

Return to “Life in the Third Reich & Weimar Republic”