My father fought at Ypres;
They called it the Ypres salient,
Where German lines bulged,
Into our own dear English soil.
In the middle was Hill 62,
Such a prize that twenty thousand dead
Witness to its capture and re-capture
And capture and re-capture.
My Dad’s rifle served him well at Ypres.
Leaning over the trench he sniped
At will at foolish Germans
Who raised their heads too high.
My Dad got a medal at Ypres,
For bravery in the face of the enemy.
Who was this enemy?
Men like him who left house and hearth to fight?
These Germans with their pointed heads,
They called them oppressors of the poor.
Demons from hell, whose one sole aim
Was to destroy our English freedom.
But their wives and children waited
In vain for the moment of victory
That never came, only starvation
And that terrible feeling of loss.
Talking about loss, my Father
Left his left leg at Ypres,
Somewhere in the sucking mud.
But they never found his lost leg.
Yet as a child I remember well
His footfall coming home;
Dot one – carry one, the sound
That always announced his arrival.
My Dad hardly ever spoke of Ypres,
Except that once he said,
The shell that did for his leg
Also did for his mates.
So my Dad came home
But his mates didn’t;
That’s why I am here
Writing this poem in case I forget.