The Leeds, Bradford and Barnsley Pals
Sheffield City and Grimsby Chums
Harrogate and Tenth West Yorkshire
heard the call of the pipes and drums

All lads who shared a pint together
the butcher’s boy and cobbler’s son
went off to see the sights of France
from a trench beside the River Somme

Last evening in England it was boasts and toasts
poems, songs and innocent prayers
a night made warm, breathless and palpitant
by excited young lovers bidding farewell

That morning sunrise in the trench
he picked a poppy and placed it ‘hind his ear;
a conversation with a well fed rat
who stared at him, laughed and showed no fear.

till the whistle sounded
the pipes wailed, skirling aye
for all they were worth
and they went over the top

the drinking chums from Barnsley and Grimsby
from Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield City
into the guns which cut them down
like mowing poppies on a pitch at home

And a cry went up from all the shire
from towns and villages which lost their lads
for friends who drank and died together
on a bloody field in dirt and mire.

No one living now recalls them
Harrogate Pals and Tenth West Yorkshire
but on this day all England remembers
in national memory, a river in France.

They will bring flowers to the graves today
flowers from where they were born and bred
flowers from their English gardens
passing “Winged Victory” where children play.


About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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4 Responses to Somme

  1. beetleypete says:

    Very nice, Frank. We have had some incredibly moving documentaries about The Somme on TV here. No matter how many times I hear the stories, or watch the footage, I am always overwhelmed by the sadness of it all.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. jlfatgcs says:

    Beautiful poetry. The stories speak for themselves. I recall stories from my family of heading off to the Civil War. America does not know what a war is like on their own soil, except for the Civil War. Thank you for this post! -Jennie-

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mukhamani says:

    Beautifully expressed. What hurts is that across the world and at all times so many die who I think many a time do not even know why they are dying. That is the way of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jfwknifton says:

    Excellently expressed. I remember as a boy having conversations about the battle with a veteran of the first day when there were nearly 60,000 casualties. He lost both his legs above the knee to a shell and he was saved because German stretcher bearers found him and he went to a German hospital.
    Don’t let anybody ever tell you it was a valid exercise to lose all those lives. It was a pointless slaughter, organised by rich men who stayed perhaps two or three miles from the Front and adamantly refused to visit it because if the danger and the smell.

    Liked by 2 people

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