WW2 poetry

Discussion in 'General' started by Susan Smethurst, May 19, 2010.

  1. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    World War 2 poetry blog now updated :Two Poems featured about the RAF Thousand Bomber Raid on Cologne on 30th May 1942, 'My Hands' by Mary E. Harrison and 'Lament for Cologne' by Vera Brittain. Worldwar2poetry.blogspot.co.uk
    The full text of Vera Brittain's poem is on the blog post by permission of her executors.
    I've post the first verse of 'My Hands ' on the post, but a longer extract from the poem can be found at
    My Hands [Mary E. Harrison]
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
  2. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    Impressed by the poem 'Reflections Upon an Orchard'. Is this any biographical information offered about S/Conr. W.T.Medhurst R.A.O.C. ? I am preparing a blog post about poetry from the D Day Campaign for the World War 2 Poetry Blog. Appreciate you sharing this poem. Regards
  3. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    Have updated the World War 2 poetry blog featuring a post about the work of Peter Huchel : I have received a request for work by German poets, and found a fascinating anthology of DDR poetry in both German and English, which was published in 1970. Bertold Brecht is probably the most famous DDR poet who wrote about World War 2...but I have been looking at Peter Huchel and Johannes Bobrowski, who both fought on the Eastern Front, and also served time as Soviet Prisoners of War. Huchel incurred the displeasure of the DDR authorities and went into exile in 1971.
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  4. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    Following the post on Peter Huchel, have published my thoughts on Johannes Bobrowski (1917-1965) . There seems to have been interest in either poet in recent years. Seems that Bobrowski started to get noticed in the 1960's 1970's, with the first translations into English by Ruth and Matthew Meads appearing ,supported by Michael Hamburger , but possibly have not stood the test of time. His work seems very understated and perhaps a lot of people reading war poetry prefer either satire or graphic depictions of being under fire.
  5. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Michael, I've just come across a poem you are unlikely to have seen--I fancy it's rather good, poetically.

    It is taken from the following book:

    The Day Rommel Was Stopped: The Battle of Ruweisat Ridge, 2 July 1942 by Major F. R. Jephson MC TD & Chris Jephson (Casemate: 2017), pp. 50-51.

    The author of the poem is not the author of that book, but Brigade Major B.A.G. Jones of the Tenth Indian Division; the subject is the journey in convoy to (first) relieve the 2 NZ Division at Mersa Matruh in May 1942.

    The official divisional history records:

    With Iran tranquil, 10 Ind. Div. concentrated at Mosul. When a decisive battle loomed in Libya in the spring of 1942, it was ordered to the Middle East. The division had altered, for three British battalions (King's Own, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, and South Wales Borderers) had replaced three of the Indian units. Major-General T. W. Rees had taken command on General Slim's promotion. The Division had lost none of its ability to move, for in the last fortnight of May, it covered fifteen hundred miles of desert to concentrate in early June on the Egyptian frontier at Halfaya Pass.

    The battle for Libya opened on May 27th. After a fair start it had gone badly.

    Teheran To Trieste: The Story Of The 10th Indian Division

    Convoy, Iraq to Egypt

    Over the desert the thin wind whips,
    Slowly the convoy moves along,
    A driver mutters through broken lips
    Some stupid oath or some stupid song.

    No nice exact road lies ahead
    With milestones white to prove our pace,
    A thousand tracks here cross and spread
    Upon the desert's burning face.

    The noonday sun strikes down to slow
    The turnings of my wandering mind,
    Who cares now whither we shall go,
    Or, having gone, what we shall find?

    Here black burnt stones replace the sand
    And heat the wind whose horrid breath
    Flies sterile, dry across a land
    That wears the rusted pall of death.

    The energy of thought is spent
    Dead is the remnant of our wills,
    We follow where another went
    To fate that lies behind dark hills.

    At last the sun to crimson turns,
    The wind has gone into the west.
    The blasted rock no longer burns;
    Our convoy slowly comes to rest.

    Swift night descends and with it rise
    A multitude of small bright fires.
    To days of peace the wind soon flies
    With memories of lost desires.

    As one by one those fires die out
    Beside the lorries, line on line,
    A sentry stamps and turns about.
    The silence of the night is mine.

    Last edited: Dec 17, 2017
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  6. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    That's great Charley , you are right indeed, I haven't seen this poem. It's particularly encouraging to find World War 2 poetry being published in histories of the war. Helps to get the message out that there was some excellent war poetry written at the time that is very much neglected. Appreciate your help.
  7. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    I have been quite busy with a new 17th century based blog but will keep the World War 2 poetry research going.
    Latest post has been about Anglo-Welsh poet Lynette Roberts, who was living and writing poetry in South Wales during World War 2.
    Her work was published in the 1940's in magazines, anthologies with two collections of her work appearing. Her poetry was praised by T.S.Elliott and Robert Graves. But several decades of obscurity followed, and Lynette Roberts was virtually forgotten by the time of her death in 1995. Yet a new wave of interest in her life and work began in the 2000's,


    With a longer version of the post at

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  8. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria. Patron

    Picture1.png Picture2.png
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  9. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    Enjoyed 'Via Singapore' . Could easily be turned into a song. Thanks for sharing this.
  10. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    Have updated World War 2 poetry blog : Latest post features Johannes Bobrowski , German soldier who fought on the Eastern Front, Soviet POW, then rehabilitated DDR citizen, and his poem dedicated to Gertrud Kolmar , Jewish poet who died at Auschwitz around March 1943.
    Previous post was about poetry from 'The Darkest Hour' of 1940.

  11. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    Encouraged to see one of our talented young poets of today -Owen Shears ' has written a play about the life of Keith Douglas 'Unicorns, Almost' , and due to be performed at the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival from 25th May 2018- 7th June 2018

    Owen Sheers introduced a documentary about Keith Douglas a few years ago


    " UNICORNS, ALMOST is a new one–man play about the life and work of World War II poet Keith Douglas. John Retallack will direct thepremiere in Hay-on-Wye in May 2018.

    UNICORNS, ALMOST tells the life story of Keith Douglas from his childhood idolising an absent father, through four engagements to marry, his fighting in the Western desert as a tank commander, his accelerated education as a poet to his early death three days after the D-Day landings in Normandy at the age of just 24....."

    continues .....UNICORNS, ALMOST
  12. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    Blog updated with post about RAF serving poet Thomas Rahilley Hodgson , killed whilst out flying on the morning of 17th May 1941 . A posthumous collection of his work ' This Life This Death' , was published in 1943

    I am working on a longer piece on Hodgson : Only seven of his published poems can really be called 'war poetry' so might as well type out them all.
    Michael Bully
  13. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

  14. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    Was going to add the Youtube clip of 'The Way To The Stars' featuring 'For Johnny'
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  15. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    Blog has been updated looking at the life and poetry of Timothy Corsellis , who died in a flying accident serving with the Air Transport Auxiliary, aged 20 http://Worldwar2poetry.blogspot.co.uk.

    Have drawn on the War Poets Association website page on Corsellis http://www.warpoets.org/…/worl…/timothy-corsellis-1921-1941/

    Have also added a link to actor Timothy Bentinck reading Corsellis' poem 'Dawn After the Raid'. Tim Bentinck- most know in Britain as David Archer in the BBC radio drama 'The Archers'- was named after Timothy Corsellis.

  16. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    I have updated my blog to look at the work of the Irish poet Sean Jennett, who lived in London during World War 2 and afterwards. One of the forgotten poets of the 1940's.
    Hope that the next post will feature some work of Polish World War 2 poets.

  17. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

  18. Michael Bully

    Michael Bully Active Member

    Have managed to include a poem on the World War 2 poetry from the lost Holocaust diary of Renia Spiegel , a Polish Jew who was discovered in hiding and shot by Germans in 1942 shortly after her eighteenth birthday.

    An English translation of Renia Spiegel's diary should be out later in 2019, along with a filmed biography of her life.
    What I have seen of the diary, there are number of poems featured.
    Renia Spiegel manage to experience both the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland followed by the German invasion in the wake of Operation Barbarossa.
  19. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Here's a couple collected in the book History of the 130th Field Regiment and its Burma campaigns by Don McCleod (late Sergeant on No.3 Gun of 'C' Troop, 316 Battery).

    First by an unknown 130 Field Regiment OP ack, writing about the aftermath of the attack by 1 RWF on the Japanese bunkers referred to as Sugar 4 and Sugar 5, at Donbaik in the Arakan, 18th March 1943.

    1943 130.jpg

    Second by S. Birchall, 1st Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers, who took part in the attack which was driven back with heavy casualties.


    From the war diary, official letter of protest from the Officer Commanding, 99 Field Regiment, upon receiving the plans for the 18th March operation from 14th Indian Infantry Division HQ. Protest was also made by OC of 6 Brigade Group. They were overruled.

    99 Field.jpg
  20. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    The Soldiers At Lauro - Poem by Spike Milligan

    Young are our dead
    Like babies they lie
    The wombs they blest once
    Not healed dry
    And yet - too soon
    Into each space
    A cold earth falls
    On colder face.
    Quite still they lie
    These fresh-cut reeds
    Clutched in earth
    Like winter seeds
    But they will not bloom
    When called by spring
    To burst with leaf
    And blossoming
    They sleep on
    In silent dust
    As crosses rot
    And helmets rust.

    Spike Milligan

    The Soldiers At Lauro Poem by Spike Milligan - Poem Hunter
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