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Hill 60

poppies blood
on the green grass
on the hills of mud
away they pass...
© by Jan Theuninck

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WW1Hill 60Jan TheuninckZillebekeYpresGreat War

Shot at dawn

drugged by morphine
the blue light comes to you
when the squad opens fire
the coward goes to hell
the officers are heroes

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shot at dawnexecutionsquadcowardww1

War museum.

watch that iron beast
plowing through those fields
towards us
i think he is enjoying every single moment
there is nothing we can do
avoiding looks impossible
maybe it will get stuck
barbed wire mess
less likely
by the bloody minute
gets in your head
spreading through your spine
despair takes a firm hold
pulling back seems l...

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Poppy Rocks Bollocks

This poppy was recently made for me as an impromptu gift, by a young lady who had been researching her family tree, and had found that a male relative had served in the RAF in WW2. I will always treasure it.


I wrote the following probably ten years ago.


On Armistice Day, (which, by now, all should know,

Marks the end of World War Number One),

I remembered Them, as I sat...

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late at night
a mist
fills the valley
without knowing
it suffocates
like a dark power
on the fields
our dead bodies
and under the grass
a brown soil

© by Jan Theuninck

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yperiteWW1"Jan Theuninck"

Why I went back

Why I went back 

A posthumous poem in the voice of Walter Tull – 28.04.1888 to 25.03.1918


Until you’ve been under fire

hunkered down in some funk hole

you’ll never know terror, the horror

or the damage to the soul

that just one barrage can do,

before you ever hear the whistle’s blast

that, sadly it’s true

for all too many,

signals this’ll be your last.



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BiographicalcharacterTrue StoryFact BasedWalter TullBlack HistoryBritish HistoryWorld Warww1The SommeFootballFootballerIbroxSpursNorthampton TownwarThe horror of warThe trenchestrenchesblack BritishBritish ArmyArmySoldierbiography

The Path Becomes Slower (WW1 100 years)

The path becomes slower…

The orders become louder

The constant din of shattering shells

Like pots and pans being washed and put away by you


My Mind becomes slower…

The generals clearly don’t know what to do

I take a bullet carefully  from my friend’s arm, as if I’m holding you


My sleep has become numb…

The path to the other side has become shorter

Like the one ...

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Passchendaele (RE-POST)


[Here's a poem I originally blogged in 2014 with a link to the audio I produced for it on Soundcloud - it is a collection of 8 haikus]

Blind, wide open, eyes.

Dripping poppy petal tears.

Crimson rivers flow.


Fields transformed to mud.

Deep cut trenches scar the earth.

Wounds that will not heal.


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Field of Youth

Finding you wasn't hard

Although you all looked the same

Beneath ever changing skies

Stark bright and upright

Against Summer cornflower skies

Bathed in sleepy Autumn hues

Pure, under skirts of wintery slate

Did you think, at twenty two

Generations would stand here

Imagining the glory, the fear

Gripping anger and sorrow


Racing clouds allow the sun a turn


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deathFrancelest we forgetwarWW1youth

My Bullet

Forgive me please, my sins, I beg, for I

Am not the glorious hero that they claim;

For I am one who dares to reason why.


They spoke of honour, courage, do-or-die;

They showed me how to shoot, to kill, to maim.

Forgive me please, my sins, I beg, for I


Am no brave lion, no matter how I try.

Returning home I feel somehow to blame,

For I am one who dares to reason why...

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STILL IN THE WAR, BOYS! - new CD and download from THE CROWS OF ALBION

My music project THE CROWS OF ALBION have released their new CD and DOWNLOAD on 1st October 2014.

21 tracks across 80 minutes featuring 14 poems I first posted to Write Out Loud (see link to tags below) set to musical backings. The remaining songs are covers versions (Motorhead & Bob Dylan) and traditional wartime favourites 'Pack Up Your Troubles...' and 'It's A Long Way To Tipperary'.


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cddownloadSITWBstill in the war boysthe crows of albionww1

Armistice (Gods Of War)

Armistice (Gods Of War)

The ink upon this document
dries twice as fast as blood
that seeps into this continent
and mixes with the mud.
The war to end all wars they say,
though many have their doubts
that a piece of paper, signed today,
will quell the zealots shouts.

So they dance beneath the spires
of Britannia’s grieving towns
and let the mourning of sad shires
taint her flimsy ta...

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armisticegods of warpeacewar to end all warsWW1WW2SITWB

Death Of A Poet / Anthem For Doomed Youth

Death Of A Poet

The grey November sky has lost its light,
just one more boy has fallen to his death,
another lad who won’t survive the fight
or pass beyond this final exhaled breath.
Though many soldiers leave this war unheard,
their stories lost forever, never told,
this one will paint us pictures with his words
that will not lose their power or grow old.

A week beyond that fatal can...

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wilfred owenWW1Shakespearean SonetAnthem For Doomed Youthtribute

Dead Men's Boots

Dead Men’s Boots

tough as old leather
their souls worn down
eyes vacant of lace
collected by the door
the day they swapped
their pit-boots
for the Kings shilling
and donned their shiny
new military issue

there they stayed
gathering dust
and old potatoes
in their safe grasp
neatly lined
waiting for the return
of father and two sons
to the safety
of their hearth

day after da...

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bootsdead men's bootsrichpixsoldierstelegramWW1SITWB

It Is Nothing

But one single bullet, from barrel to throat,
Choked and opened the wounds of the world,
Unfurled in the seat of a phaeton,
Played on like the most tragic of tragedies,
Greek in essence but eastern in substance,
As Sophie wilts in the lap of Austria,
A single shot through the heart of a continent,
The blood racing fast to the carriage beneath,
Signals the start of relentless war lines,

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assassinationdeathpoemremembrancesoldierwarworld war oneWW1WWI

Remember Scarborough!

Remember Scarborough!

The day our town was visited by war,
we hardly had the time to ring the bells.
The bairns were playing on our golden shore
and savouring the fish and seaweed smells,
building castles of sand, collecting shells -
though these were not of molluscs but of steel -
and all at once a thousand blazing hells
fell from the sky with each chiming peel.
Remember Scarborough – ...

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naval attacks. east coastposter campaignscarboroughSpenserian stanza formww1SITWB

Canary Girl (Chilwell, July 1st 1918)

Canary Girl (Chilwell, July 1st 1918)

When she went there her eyes were clear,
just seventeen, her skin was fair.
She was my love, my Jeanie dear,
she wore blue ribbons in her hair
of blond, and I could only stare
and wonder at her beauty wild.
The sweet songbird - my only child.

She had a voice that raised good cheer,
when Jeanie sang we were aware
in chapels (and after a beer),

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Ballade Royal Formbomb factoryCanary GirlsChilwellDisasterWW1SITWB

White Feather

White Feather

I didn’t see her pass me in the street,
the woman with the husband at the front,
but felt the tell-tale tickle of a feather -
pressed discreetly soft against my palm.
The accusation whispered in a hate-filled voice,
“Coward”, dripped with venom from her lips
and I assumed she talked to me, although I couldn’t see
if the feather in my hand was truly white.
For I had returne...

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conscientious objectorcowardicehatemissunderstandingpacifistwar poetrywhite featherWW1SITWB

Craiglockhart (Not Yet Diagnosed Nervous)

Craiglockhart (Not Yet Diagnosed Nervous)

When I kicked over the wheelchair
I couldn’t do the simplest task,
except the epileptic flailing
of my military antimasque.
Turning on the hissing gas-lamp
had me reaching for the mask.
You opened up my mind
and you didn’t even ask.

Sh-sh-sh shut the fuck up,
I think I’m going insane,
I’ve got all these bombs
going off in my brain.
I’m lik...

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Craiglockhart Miliotary Hospitalmental illnessPTSDrichpixShell ShocktreatmentWW1SITWB

War Boys

War Boys


We’re going to war boys,
we’re going to war,
Lord Kitchener asked us
so we formed a corps.
Joe and Jack from the factory,
Ted and Jim from the farm,
the recruiting sergeant assures us
that there’s little chance of harm.
We’re part of the great pals army
and we’ve fallen for his charm
as we march away to war.

We’re in the war boys,
we’re in the ...

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deathghostsglorykitchenermarching songpals armyposterww1you're country needs youSITWB

Grandchildren Of The Somme

Grandchildren Of The Somme

the dead lay on the injured earth
all wearing grey death masks of mud
a tally of what life is worth
just bone and sinew flesh and blood

attrition wrought its deadly cost
the river Somme held back its flood
humanity forever lost
just bone and sinew flesh and blood

sixteen miles wide and just six deep
survivors wondered if they could
block out the dreams t...

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kyrielle formmemorialthe sommewarwar poetryWW1SITWB

The Bicycle Scout (21st August 1914)

The Bicycle Scout (21st August 1914)

bicycle wheel spins in blood drenched Belgian hops
as the echo of a gunshot fades away
behind the gorse hedgerow Private John Parr drops
amid the yellow hypnotic summer sway
he is the first scythe-cut of Britain’s young crops
many come to deathly harvest from this day
and when the madness eventually stops
for him, and those that follow, the world will...

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bicycle scoutsfirst british casualtyprivate john parrsicilian octavethe great warWW1SITWB




Out over the fields a pair of crows circle and dive amongst the hedgerows and green grass.

A watery sun casts its watery face through the spring clouds as the birds disappear from view.

Eighty years ago it was a similar story as two manmade hawks of the air battle to the death; the fields aren’t green but a shell-holed hell with muddy trenches filled with wretched...

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How many soldiers were court-martialled,

shot dead, coz of an error of judgement?

“You Private! Take that forty litres of water to A Platoon.”

Fog of war and shell shock.

No water and a bullet in the head.

Of 317 British soldiers in our war to end all wars,

were any of them like the above?

Executed for cowardice in the face of the enemy.

Running scared or...

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executed soldiersww1deathfiring squaderrorsfog of war

Angel of Mons

Angel of Mons


Perhaps it was the heartbeat of the guns

Thump-thumping in a cacophonic rage,

or the secret, sly, scurry of the rats

that banished sleep those first nights at the front.

For when I marched, the sky became a wall,

the moonlight through the dust made me believe

I saw some great cathedral in the gloom,

with windows of stained glass cast from the stars.



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Snapping wire whirling and curling in the airflow,

shot loose by enemy bullets. More punching holes

in varnished wooden wing struts, splintering

and shredding the very wood.

Thud, thud, thud as steel rain peppers

tight fabric fuselage, tearing

great holes and destroying the structure.

Big dragonfly wing, wing ribs visible

in the mor...

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ww1air warbulletsfirecombatbiplanedeath

Tyne Cot


when you left
for the front
you were
living heroes
and now
you are on top
of the hill
where only

© by Jan Theuninck


Tyne Cot
toen jullie 
naar het front
waren jullie
levende helden
en nu
liggen jullie
op de heuvel
waar alleen
papavers bloeien...

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"Tyne Cot"WW1

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