Back to John Ottewell introduction


(In Memoriam to the boys of Brecon
‘Who Did Not Return’)

“No fluttering banners hail returning dead
This chill recurring ‘memory’ day,
Save for the neon lighted tavern signs,
The knowing ‘winks’ from glinting steel
And the bugler’s final ‘Requiem’ -
For this they died -
A lonely bugle and a cold grey stone
Beside St. Mary’s Church ....
And soon .... wild music, clinking glasses
Will pay the final tribute -
Apathy immortalised in gin and beer,
Memory erased for another year
While the sodden poppies
Blush a deeper hue
These were the boys I knew
At school and play, so long ago
The Pendre, Llanfaes, Watton ‘gangs’
Who haunted Dinas, Crug and Slwch
God rest their luckless souls
And curses evermore on those
Who caused this day
To steal their youth
And close their eyes in foreign clay


(Early days in the Baron Bridgehead, July, 1944.)

They came undaunted on sea-borne spray
Yearning to taste the sanguine stew
Filling the pot wherein they simmer
Each tiny soupcon tanging bitter tongues -
See now their sprouting crop of dented lids
Adorning upturned walnut butts
Playing the ‘hiding game’ in swaying green blade wheat.
Wherein they curse from earth choked mouths
The sour Aperitif they drank in glee
With heads befuddled, ’twas their own red claret,
The Goulash and the swift ‘entree’
That filled their plates in one fierce helping,
Leaving their bleached unmarrowed bones
For later, ‘stews’ amidst the ripening corn.