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Remember Them Vergissmeinnicht

Article about: During the season of remembrance, I often find myself recalling the words of one of our soldier poets, who himself was a victim of WW2. I first heard this poem over 40 years ago, spoken by r

  1. #1

    Default Remember Them Vergissmeinnicht

    During the season of remembrance, I often find myself recalling the words of one of our soldier poets, who himself was a victim of WW2. I first heard this poem over 40 years ago, spoken by renowned actor Sir Lawrence Olivier as part of the World at War series. The sentiments change little, in that war nor in those that have gone since. I hope that members don't mind if I post the poem below as a mark of remembrance to the fallen.

    Vergissmeinnicht by Keith Douglas

    Three weeks gone and the combatants gone
    returning over the nightmare ground
    we found the place again, and found
    the soldier sprawling in the sun.

    The frowning barrel of his gun
    overshadowing. As we came on
    that day, he hit my tank with one
    like the entry of a demon.

    Look. Here in the gunpit spoil
    the dishonoured picture of his girl
    who has put: Steffi. Vergissmeinnicht.
    in a copybook gothic script.

    We see him almost with content,
    abased, and seeming to have paid
    and mocked at by his own equipment
    that’s hard and good when he’s decayed.

    But she would weep to see today
    how on his skin the swart flies move;
    the dust upon the paper eye
    and the burst stomach like a cave.

    For here the lover and killer are mingled
    who had one body and one heart.
    And death who had the soldier singled
    has done the lover mortal hurt.

  2. #2

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    Thank you!

  3. #3

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    On this day so significant to those who observe it I would if I may expand on the lines below my forum posts;

    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded sense of patriotic feeling that believes nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

    This is a paraphrase of two pieces by Jon Stuart Mill and for me it illustrates especially at this time that on occasion a situation arises when it is not all about the individual but the common good and which often runs contrary to the individual's interests.

    Sometimes one just has to step up and say "let's do this thing".

    A point to note is that in Britain and the Commonwealth our Remembrance Day is not only about remembering our own losses but also commemorating all those who died in all wars.

    "At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them"

    Mark
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  4. #4

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    Hi Mark,

    I took the parade yesterday, went to the pub for the de-brief and then got properly turned inside out! We have a good village with proper attitude towards the armed forces it is always a pleasure to be able to show the respect deserved, (although this is my last year in uniform).

    R

  5. #5

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    For every one veteran who was able to parade with their comrades yesterday, I thank you. To all those veterans whose anguish and demons kept them away and in isolation I say thank you and please ask for help. You have served your country and your comrades with honour and there are many arms held out to help if you only ask.

  6. #6

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    Quote by vegetius View Post
    Hi Mark,

    I took the parade yesterday, went to the pub for the de-brief and then got properly turned inside out! We have a good village with proper attitude towards the armed forces it is always a pleasure to be able to show the respect deserved, (although this is my last year in uniform).

    R
    I always really appreciated the Remembrance day parade (it seems totally wrong to say "enjoyed"). The pride taken in a good parade and the extra effort made on your own "turnout" was extremely cathartic and of course the curry lunch in the mess afterwards usually turned into a glorious "all nighter".

    I will bet when you march away from the colours that apart from the real differences in Civvy Street to loyalty and esprit de corps the one thing you will miss above all will be the mess life. I was an honorary member of the WOs & Sgts Mess of my former unit for a couple of years but it just isn't the same a being a serving member!

    In addition to the sacrifices made by our forebears it is that "spirit" that is so relevant to me.

    Regards

    Mark
    Last edited by Watchdog; 11-14-2022 at 02:02 PM. Reason: typo
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  7. #7

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    Gent's,

    I run the Legion for several villages where I live. I would not have it any other way. The Commander in Chief Domestic runs the poppy appeal, so we fully participate as much as possible. I know what you mean by 'enjoyed' but it is hard not to say that.

    As always, I was completely broken up by it all and actually having to direct allows me to concentrate on other things and makes a difficult thing for me somewhat easier. I must say last night was sleepless but that is a price we pay for the life lived, and still being able to do so is much, much more than any number of my friends who paid too high a price.

    On a lighter note, it still feels odd singing God Save the King!

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