Heritage Poetry

We will remember them

Poppies at the Sarcee Trail pathway war memorial, Signal Hill, Calgary, Alberta, Canada © J. Ashley Nixon

 

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Third and fourth stanzas from For the Fallen
Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

 

Laurence Binyon was sitting on a clifftop in Cornwall, England when he wrote For the Fallen. News had come through that the British Expeditionary Forces had retreated from the Battle of Mons in Belgium, close to the French border, on August 23, 1914. It was the first action of the First World War: 1,600 British casualties were recorded.

Binyon’s poem was published in The Times on September 21, 1914, seven weeks into the conflict. By the time of the Armistice, the formal agreement between the Allies and Central Powers to cease all military action, on November 11, 1918, many millions had died or been wounded. The total number remains an estimate ranging widely between 15 to 22 million deaths and around 23 million wounded.

Both of my Grandfathers served in and survived the Great War. Grandad Fred Markham, from Haworth, Yorkshire served in the Royal Navy, in the crew of a minesweeper in the North Sea. Grandad Billy Nixon, from Silsden, Yorkshire served in France, deployed to work with horses in the Royal Artillery.

We will remember them.

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