A book of World War I poems uncovered after 100 years
PUBLISHED: 10:33 12 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:51 12 November 2018
Field Dressings by Stretcher Bearer
Discovered by chance almost 100 years since it was written, the original ‘Field Dressings by Stretcher Bearer’ contains the poems of Terrington St Clement-born Alick Lewis Ellis.
Peter Ellis was surprised to discover that his great uncle Alick Lewis Ellis had written a series of compelling poems about his first-hand experience of the horrors of battle as a stretcher bearer of the 2/3rd London Field Ambulance, 54th Division, London Regiment, The card bound book was discovered in a loft and handed in anonymously to the Herts at War project.
Alick lived a quiet life in a rented house in Bedford until his death in 1953. “I had no idea that a member of our family had done something of this note,” said Mr Ellis
“While many poems reflect the sadness and pain that comes from witnessing so much death and suffering, Alick’s work shows he remained full of admiration for his fellow soldiers.”
Bells were rung in many churches in honour of the Cambrai victory
There’s a winding line of stretchers each with its shattered load
Coming slowly from the trenches along a shell-marked road
Hear the groans & watch the blood flow, see the havoc of the shells
And this is called a victory for this they rung the bells
See the groups of walking wounded who progress as best they can
Limping, struggling slowly onward helped by the stronger man
With clothing torn & faces pained & blood their path to show
But let the bells ring loud & clear its victory you know
There are heaps of dead in the trenches & out in “no man’s land”
’Tis not for them a flowered grave tended by loving hand
There’ll be vacant chairs in many homes in England’s hills & dells
But still this is a victory for they have rung the bells
See this comrade of mine who has fallen he stood by my side at dawn
I have sewn his cold clay in a blanket fit coffin for grim waifair’s storm
And I think of a wife who is waiting & a babe who its father will miss
Yet the bells were rung in our churches for such a victory as this
O Christ of a thousand Churches God of a nation’s best
Look down & forgive the people & grant the fallen rest
Where flesh & blood now wrestle O grant the birds may sing
And peace be the greatest victory & then our bells shall ring.
Field Dressings by Stretcher Bearer be ordered from www.fielddressings.co.uk
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