Between September and December 2014 as part of the First World War Centenary commemorations, Liverpool John Moores University’s Merseyside at War project ran a poetry challenge ’War Words’. Entries are now closed and selected poems have been made into banners, these will form a touring exhibition.
February – Outside the Picton Reading Room, Central Library.
March – Allerton, Childwall and Norris Green Libraries.
April – Cunard Building Reception.
All entries can be viewed below.
Under 18 Category
Heygreen Community Primary
St John Bosco Arts College
Kirkby High School
BENEATH THE POPPY FIELDS Lynne Smith
They marched off willingly to another land
All Pals together, together they stand
They never knew how it would really be
Hell in those trenches they will see
Their friends gone one by one
In a war so senseless, their lives now gone
Those brave of the bravest
Their memory lives on
Never forgotten as time goes by
They gave us our freedom
As beneath the poppy fields they now lie
DITCHED Angie Stowell-Smith
Entrenched in a ditch no runners in sight
Not enough masks we’re aware of our plight.
We can’t see well our sight is blurred
Chaos ensues, guns are heard.
We hide our fear lest we appear weak
Men fall around us our future looks bleak.
We struggle to survive we’re confused what to do
In the mire I find a leg (with its shoe).
The enemy is triumphant or so it seems
Its defences are strong, its numbers are teams.
Still stuck in this mud the bombing increasing
Our strategists are planning our reserves depleting.
The carnage continues our troops are wounded
The public is outraged the frontline confounded.
When all seems hopeless with an air of despair
Our backs against the wall, finally….back-up is here!
Indian Singh Fabiyas M V
Hiding in the trench in the French sand,
Indian Singh fights like a British soldier.
It seems it is the ending of the universe.
Dark curls of smoke rise up – cradles are
shattered, and buildings collapsed. Roar
of the war planes gobble all the shrieks
by the mothers and their mothers in a jiff.
Wounds play a sad raga on the strings in
the throats of some fallen military men.
Indian Singh seeks his sweet lady among
the golden corns in a Punjabi wheat field
during the horrible silent interval. A red
salwar kameez flutters in the day dream.
A sudden roar makes him raise his rifle.
Though he is Britain’s adopted son, he
fights for his new mother with true love.
She opens with a smile the creaking gate
to the ecstasy of reunion- soon this smile
is scattered like a phial in an explosion.
She waited for him with the same verve
for years and years in vain, until the earth
worms claimed her wrinkled body one day.
Thousands of memorial stones were erupted
here and there after the First World War, but
not a single stone remains to honour his valour.
Mersey 11 Andrew P Hoyle
Crossing the Mersey
my friend and I
off to St Helen’s
for king country and I
many fields I crossed
both far and wide
oh how I cried
those tears of pride
now on the banks
of the Mersey I stare
with thoughts I dare
my friend is not in
fields over there
yet prisoned in
fields where their
is no peace
I why I stare
so deep till I
am in my field
Sailing Andrew P Hoyle
Sailing on this ship to Flanders
my companion quips
it’s a beautiful ship
carrying the brave
sailing on the ship
back from Flanders
carrying the corps
my companion remorses
they were the brave
I will not quiver
in my trench
with the stench of death
I will muster my will
go forth to quench
those guns that kill
The Silent Witness Dorothy Burgess
(Hall of St. George)
I am this noble city’s sentinel
Trusted keeper over wind-swept souls.
My grey granite steps bore silent witness
To young hearts standing proud abreast
Blood and treasure, Liverpool Pals,
King’s finest, City’s best.
Hear echo from Somme, Passchendaele and Ypres
Drifted skyward on pipers’ lamented tone
Captured steadfast, in my pillared arms of stone,
Safe held, I am their worthy, forever keeper
A century passed….
Misty, winter-sun poppies emblazon heartfelt recall
Named and nameless on memorial stone and wall.
As the sun goes down, and in the morning
I bear silent witness to the spirit of our brothers.
Red Linda Jackson
“My Darling as you read,
This shall be my last communication you see”
I’m afraid I shall never leave this trench unless my body is buried with fellow man, buried with dignity or sent out to sea?…
The impact of the gunshot, I can no longer hang on my love…
I was so afraid before, the pain I no longer feel, for the cold had taken over, it’s like a million pins upon a bed that I lay to slowly die…
Goodbye my darling I say as tears run down my bloodied cheek
The memory of your face I see, sweet porcelain skin, within your heart forever in the corner of your mind, my memory you shall so seek.
If one could only “pack up these troubles in my old kit bag”,
Quote from the fading band
My love for you will never die, do not forget me,
My death in vain, the stench of death and war
Unwashable blood on every hand.
The cries for help, the light around me slowly dimming, the cold from the ground, Time is not upon my side.
Remember my life and other Comrades and wear this Red flower I handpicked for you, its name I believe is “poppy” to always wear with “BRITISH PRIDE”
FOUND IN A DRAWER Derek Taylor
Silver, pretending to be base,
flat, round, modest,
self consciously ribboned
red white and blue,
surprised at being lifted from its case,
Military Medal the encyclopaedia says.
Spring, first seeds of guilt
as I caress
‘For bravery in the field’;
trace round the edge,
name, number, rank;
stare at King George V,
Britt:omn:Rex Et Ind:Imp.
The deed never talked about.
Should I have asked, acknowledged?
There were enough years,
silences across the fireside,
a log crackling like gunfire.
Guilt advances, sure of itself,
the medal grows warm in my hand.
He’s crouched in a trench,
time races towards
beginnings and endings.
Dread of the whistle, the bugle, the ladders.
Brought Home Neil D Crawford
Mourners all in sombre suits, no trendy funeral this,
a black mamba of grief writhes toward the cathedral door.
Soldiers, literal comrades in arms, with downturned rifles
and regimental colours held low.
Plumed Lancers in dress uniform, resplendent on their little
used, ceremonial mounts. The smell of horse dung fills the air.
Onlookers, feeling helpless, bow their heads in
The two waiting hearses bear wreaths that tell the fuller tale
- Son, grandson, nephew, boyfriend, mate – a British lion
whose roar is forever silenced, learning his age I see
he was more a cub.
Police explain the delay to angry motorists,
some are still furious even when informed,
their momentary inconvenience, it seems,
outweighs momentous sacrifice.
Elegy For the Fallen and the Falling Neil D Crawford
Consider an insignificant spear on yesterday’s warm
red grass. Today, men of honour constantly intrude
into History’s overgrown garden.
Our weary daughters weep for flags, which, though
ragged, still flutter in the same old breeze that blew
on our tired grandfathers.
Here their comrades lie, long ago laid down in the
tidal wave path of a white cross ocean, ten thousand
sleeping legions, a squandered generation.
Our master’s machine, far older than individual
mischief, in the early morning light surrenders
to an ever swelling sea.
Down in the depths of this dire imagination
I see tomorrow’s warriors, soldiers of
Clad, not in shining armour, but in rags reflecting
hunger both physical and mental, a broken, white,
crooked cross they bear.
Remembrance Sunday Neil D Crawford
It is not a day for selfish aims or ends.
Our games, our friends, our fads and trends,
all fade into insignificance, evidence of our
In comparison to their sacrifice,
their eternal selflessness.
They gave their lives that we
might drown in facile shallowness.
The Score Neil D Crawford
Eight real lives lost,
Scores more destroyed.
Heart sickening point scoring
from disgraced politicians.
‘Your cuts are deeper than
For the true depth of the cuts
look no further, one only has
to witness Wootton Bassett.
A BRITISH GRENADIER Peter Gillott
My daddy was a private in the British Grenadiers.
He felt afraid quite often though a Guardsman has no fears.
His country gave him khaki, several bullets and a gun
and a bayonet for prodding current enemies —— the Hun.
He square—bashed at bare barracks where the discipline was harsh,
and they put him on false charges till he grew a Guards moustache,
and his mates told filthy stories, picked up fag—ends, boozed and swore
in a pithy foreign language which he hadn’t used before.
Soft sergeant cried, “Want medals, lads? You’re lucky. Now’s your chance.
Your king is kindly giving you free trips to Belly France.”
Dad ate an English breakfast being paid in English coin
But he left it in the Channel between Folkestone and Boulogne.
First baited in the Bullring by some bastards on a stunt.
to stay behind and bully those condemned to go up Front.
a rattle in a cattle—truck. Forced marches to the drains
called trenches as replacements for the wounded and the slain.
He never killed a German for he swore he never would
though they told him only dead ones were considered any good.
But friend and foe were similar transmuted under fire
to ragged bits of bodies hung like washing on barbed wire.
In cabbages near Cambrai on the last of his patrols
an observant machine—gunner perforated him with holes.
While stranded playing dead he feared that Jerry might attack
and his girl might think him coward. He’d been wounded in the back.
A stretcher—party found him deep in dark that hides the bled
and they lugged him to a tent where yards of bandages turn red,
and he signed a printed post—card, I AM WOUNDED and they sent
card and carcass back to Blighty as his usefulness was spent.
In coma he revisited the horrors he had seen
but was blind to his fiancée and his language was obscene.
Though many prayers were proffered in the hope that he would thrive,
the weary doctors whispered, “No, that number won’t survive.”
He lived and he got married and I’m told that if he’d died.
I would never have existed but remained the other side.
Well, I’m here and incidentally I caught him in the bath
and saw those wounds inflicted down on dubious duty’s path.
November they remember (or forget as like as not)
dumb soldiers who were slaughtered in the mud and left to rot.
Dad wears his Service Medal and intones the clichés well
but he knows highroad to Heaven’s via No Man’s Land of Hell.