Skip to comments.In Flanders Fields
Posted on 11/11/2007 2:44:08 AM PST by Clive
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915
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 amid 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.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."
--- From "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon
Worth mentioning: McCrae died in combat days before the Armistice.
In memory of Flt. Lt. Frank Konrad, 422 Squadron RCAF. Per ardua ad astra.
The honored soldiers, living and dead, were permitted to buy that part of the world twenty years, ten months, and twenty days of "peace".
The enemy must be destroyed as utterly and ruthlessly as they were in Dresden, Berlin, Hiroshima and Tokyo, and occupied-- their daily lives dictated by American Generals and Sergeants and Privates-- until they learn better manners.
That is the lesson of two World Wars.
The lesson of Vietnam? Don't let traitors in the media determine the conditions of victory.
"Ce n’est pas une paix, c’est un armistice de vingt ans."
-- Marechal Foch, commenting on the Treaty of Versailles.
A very accurate prognosis. The treaty was signed June 28 1919. The Germans invaded Poland September 1, 1939 and the British Prime Minister announced a state of belligerency on September 3, 1939
And so comes another 11th of November: Veterans’ Day, Rememberence Day. The Great War produced a great cannon of poetry that laid down the full spectrum of emotions that are served up with the rations of combat. Here is one of my favorites.
Private D. Sutherland, Killed in Action in the German trench May 16 1916 and Others Who Died
So you were David’s father,
and he was your only son,
and the new-cut peat’s a rotting,
and the work is left undone
Because of an old man weeping
just an old man in pain
For David, his son David,
who will not come again
Oh, the letters he wrote you,
and I can see them still,
not a word of the fighting,
just the sheep upon the hill
And how you should get the crops in,
‘ere the year got stormier
And the Bosches have got his body
and I was his officer
You were only David’s father,
but I had fifty sons,
When we went up in the evening,
under the arch of the guns
And we came back in the twilight —
Oh God! I hear them call
To me for help and pity,
who could not help at all
Oh, never will I forget you,
my men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers,
for they could only see
the helpless little babies,
and the young men in their pride,
They could not see you dying
and hold you as you died
Happy young and gallant,
they saw their first-born go
But not the strong limbs broken,
the beautiful men brought low
the piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed “Don’t leave me, Sir”
For they were only your fathers
but I was your Officer
Ewart Alan Macintosh 1893 - 1917
The man who wrote these words was twenty-three years old.
He died in the Battle of Cambrai, November 1917, aged 24.
My great uncle, Herman Frederick Bremer, is buried in the US WW 1 Cemetery at Bony, France. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguised Service Cross.
In my genealogy research I have discovered a member of my family who has served in every American War from the Revolution to Iraq. My son-in-law is, a member of the National Guard, is currently training in Texas for his second tour in Iraq. My son is preparing to enlist after the holidays.
Remember them in your prayers.
WWI was a tragic and basically an unneccessary War. I believe that it was one of those times that agressive “Diplomacy” could have staved off war until passions cooled and the crisis could have been averted. (Possibly our own WBTS could have been avoided using the same means).
Europe and espcially G.B., France and Germany lost the flower of their youth and have really never quite recovered from it. The magnitude of the huge losses led directly to the rise of the Pacifism prevalent in Western Europe prior to WWII.
That being said, the actions of the Troops was nothing less than Heroic. I had two Great Uncles who were gassed but both recovered albeit one became an alcoholic; the other a highly successful farmer though.
I recall, as a child, listening to them talking about the horrors of trench warfare and the gut wreching fear when “going over the top” into massed machine gunfire and artillery. Much the same as their father, when he talked to them about his experiences in the Confederate Army in the trenches during the defence of Richmond in the last year of the WBTS.
Tragically, the onerous terms of the Armistice sowed the seeds of the Second World War and the rise of A. Hitler, however.
The older I get, the more emotional Nov. 11 becomes for me as I think about my great uncles and grandfather who came home gassed, injured, carry shrapnel for the rest of their days and memories that in the case of one great uncle, took over 50 years to talk about. Not one of them ever glorified war. They’d seen too much in those mud and blood filled trenches and early cavalry charges.
Young Fellow My Lad
“Where are you going, Young Fellow My Lad,
On this glittering morn of May?”
“I’m going to join the Colours, Dad;
They’re looking for men, they say.”
“But you’re only a boy, Young Fellow My Lad;
You aren’t obliged to go.”
“I’m seventeen and a quarter, Dad,
And ever so strong, you know.”
* * * *
“So you’re off to France, Young Fellow My Lad,
And you’re looking so fit and bright.”
“I’m terribly sorry to leave you, Dad,
But I feel that I’m doing right.”
“God bless you and keep you, Young Fellow My Lad,
You’re all of my life, you know.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll soon be back, dear Dad,
And I’m awfully proud to go.”
* * * *
“Why don’t you write, Young Fellow My Lad?
I watch for the post each day;
And I miss you so, and I’m awfully sad,
And it’s months since you went away.
And I’ve had the fire in the parlour lit,
And I’m keeping it burning bright
Till my boy comes home; and here I sit
Into the quiet night.
* * * *
“What is the matter, Young Fellow My Lad?
No letter again to-day.
Why did the postman look so sad,
And sigh as he turned away?
I hear them tell that we’ve gained new ground,
But a terrible price we’ve paid:
God grant, my boy, that you’re safe and sound;
But oh I’m afraid, afraid.”
* * * *
“They’ve told me the truth, Young Fellow My Lad:
You’ll never come back again:
(Oh God! the dreams and the dreams I’ve had,
and the hopes I’ve nursed in vain!)
For you passed in the night, Young Fellow My Lad,
And you proved in the cruel test
Of the screaming shell and the battle hell
That my boy was one of the best.
“So you’ll live, you’ll live, Young Fellow My Lad,
In the gleam of the evening star,
In the wood-note wild and the laugh of the child,
In all sweet things that are.
And you’ll never die, my wonderful boy,
While life is noble and true;
For all our beauty and hope and joy
We will owe to our lads like you.” Robert Service
Robert W. Service is “my favorite” poet. His work is evocative and descriptive, and all of his narratives clutch at my heart. This is so lovely. Thank you, Kolo.
“Robert W. Service is my favorite poet.”
Why am I not surprised? :) Mine too, by the way, or maybe tied with Frost.