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Poems of the Second World War


John Ottewell

John Ottewell, who died in March 2019 at the age of 93, was well known in Brecon as a hero of amusing anecdotes, obsessive writer of letters to the local paper, writer also of childrens stories concerning Hoppity, his pet hare, a painter who sold his work in support of local charities. But underneath all that he was a man obsessed by his experience of the Second World War. This brought him, to the consternation of his own circle of friends, to stand, wearing his medals, with those of us in the then very active Brecknock Peace and Justice Group, who were protesting against the Iraq war in 2003.

These poems come from a book he produced in 1994 - A Cry from the heart (Recollections of a Normandy Infantryman Signals Runner). It was reprinted with additions in 2001 (the edition I have) and again, according to the obituary in the Brecon and Radnor Express, in 2007.  Most of the poems, he says were written during the Normandy campaign, in the ranks of the 53rd (Welsh) Division from June 1944 to May 1945. I have only picked out a handful of poems and none of the prose which includes a detailed narrative of his experiences together with isolated reflections. Hopefully someone, sometime, maybe even me, will reprint the whole thing. John deserves it.

I haven't sought or known how to seek permission to republish these poems. If a relative of John's comes across them I'd be grateful if they got in touch either to tell me to remove them from my site or, better, to tell me arrangements are being made for more suitable publication.

No banners - "Pot pourri"
Running Flush - Evrecy (July 1944)
Three short poems
Candle power - Shell Shock
Kamaraden - The Gap
The Field Dressings - On Parade