First World War Poetry: ‘Go Forth!’

During the First World War, the local newspaper the Evesham Journal, published a number of war poems including Go Forth! attributed to ‘E. Linor’:

Go forth, go forth to war,
Ye sons of England brave!
With willing hearts go forth,
Your Motherland to save.

Go forth, from cottage home,
From office, farm, or hall;
Go forth, an endless host,
Your country needs you all.

Go forth, with courage high,
With steadfast mind, and bold;
Go forth to do or die!
As did our sires of old.

Go forth, and if perchance,
On battlefield you fall;
With this thought close your eyes –
You followed duty’s call.

And though no grassy mound
Mark where your young form fell;
This be your epitaph –
“He nobly fought and well”.

We will remember them.

Broadway Remembers
13th June 2015

 

In Memoriam (Easter, 1915) by War Poet Edward Thomas

In Memoriam (Easter, 1915)

The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.
by Edward Thomas (1878-1917)
Memorial stone, near Steep, Hampshire.

Memorial stone, near Steep, Hampshire.

Before the First World War, war poet Edward Thomas was a prolific writer. Born in London in 1878 of Welsh parents, Thomas moved to Earlsfield, Hampshire, with his wife, Helen, after their marriage. He enlisted in the Artists Rifles (a special forces regiment of the British Army Reserve) in 1915 and was soon promoted to the rank of officer, and in November 1916 Edward was commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Second Lieutenant.

Edward was killed in action during the Battle of Arras in 1917 and he is buried in the Military Cemetery at Agny, France. Thomas is commemorated in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey, London, and by memorial windows in the churches at Steep, Hampshire, and at Eastbury, Berkshire.

‘The Worcesters’ a First World War Poem by an Unknown Veteran

On 8th April 1916, The Evesham Journal published the followed poem, The Worcesters. The poet’s name was not given, it was just credited to  ‘A Veteran’.

With deeds so immortal, they have carven a name;
They wear undisputed the laurels of fame,
To the shades of Valhalla, the bravest and best,
As warriors unchallenged, have passed to their rest.
Through the length and the breadth of the country shall ring
The deeds of the Worcesters, for country and King.

In the shell-shattered breach of the line they are lying;
Firmly and fiercely a passage denying.
The hordes of the Prussian recoil from the shock.
As the surges retreat from the hard granite rock.
With deeds so heroic fresh honours they bring
To the Flag of the Worcesters, to country and King.

Our heroes are lulled by the Levantine swells,
As they rest in their graves at the grim Dardanelles;
When the full of that grim, tragic story is told,
Their deeds will resemble the Spartans of old.
No stain or a trace of dishonour shall cling
To the Worcesters who bled for their country and King.

When Peace reigns triumphant o’er Europe again;
Shall the blood-sacrifice have been offered in vain?
Should our children relinquish – “Oh perish the thought” –
The freedom so precious, their heart’s blood has bought.
To arms – as an Army of Phantoms – would spring
The Worcesters who died for their country and King.

The 1/1st Worcestershire Yeomanry, 4th and 9th Battalions of the Worcestershire Regiment were posted to Gallipoli (the Dardanelles) between April 1915 and January 1916 (the Yeomanry withdrew in December 1915 and returned to Egypt). The British Army suffered over 200,000 casualties during the campaign of which 145,000 were due to sickness, the chief causes being dysentery, diarrhoea and enteric fever (typhoid). There are 31 Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries on the peninsula.

Broadway Remembers
8th April 2014

First World War Poetry: The Call by F. Willey Turner

The Call

What are you doing today, men?
What are you doing today?
While the bay’nets glint and the cannons speak,
And a callous foe hunts down the weak,
What are you doing today?

There is a time for work, men!
And there is a time for play;
A time for the bat, the club, and the ball,
For the loud huzza by the well-won goal,
But that time is not for today.

Our tars are keeping the seas, men!
And our brave boys are away
Where the wintry moon with reek is dim,
And the shrapnel bursts in the trenches grim,
The trenches were they lay.

Right stern is the task in hand, men!
For the battle line is wide,
And they call to their brothers across the seas,
To fling off dull sloth and selfish case,
And stand by their valiant side.

And the call in in our hearts, men!
The hearts of the pure and strong,
The bugle blast that none may slight,
That right is right, and might as right
Doth ever stand for wrong.

File up and take your place, men!
In the war ranks of the free
For the love of our wave-girt isle,
The babe’s caress and the woman’s smile,
And the God of liberty.

The Call by F. Willey Turner was published in the Evesham Journal newspaper in January 1915 at a time when the War Office was calling for men to enlist in the war effort.

Broadway Remembers
October 2013