I went to our local park today, to the war memorial where there was a service to commemorate the anniversary of the first day of the battle of the Somme.
I have to say the blowing of a whistle at the start of the service, chilled my blood. What a thought, that 19,420 lives were lost that day.
On 1st July 1916 at 07.30am, whistles blew all along the British front line driving thousands of troops out of the trenches into No Man’s Land as the Battle of the Somme began.
The park was built as a memorial to those who lost their lives during World War I, and during the two minutes silence I was struck by the sweet scent of roses drifting up from the flower beds and the bird song from the surrounding, and now mighty trees. I could pick out the cheeky chatter of long tailed tits
Birdsong must have been the last thing the soldiers heard before the guns
From Bivouacs by Gilbert Waterhouse
In Somecourt Wood, in Somecourt Wood,
We bivouacked and slept the night,
The nightingales sang the same
As they had sung before we came.
‘Mid leaf and branch and song and light
And falling dew and watching star.
And all the million things which are
About us and above us took
No more regard of us than
We take in some small midge’s span
Of life, albeit our gunfire shook
The very air in Somecourt Wood.
It was very moving, and I don’t think had I seen these ‘ghost soldiers’ today, moving speechlessly through our cities, each one simply carrying a card with the name and age of a soldier they represented. I could have helped but shed a tear. What a powerful piece of art.