New: profile picture for 2021…

… is the iconic view of Suvla Bay from the heights of ANZAC. This is a place I felt I knew intimately many years before eventually visiting, belatedly, in 2015 to mark the one hundredth anniversary of my Grandfather’s exploits at Suvla, Kidney Hill and Hill 60. Much more of that on various pages on this blog.

Below we have Malcom and my father setting off for a revisit to Gallipoli nearly 70 years after he was first there, Malcolm as a very young officer, and the newspaper cutting noting his MC

Two wonderful Poet Laureate Poems

This is Simon Armitage reading his moving poem, THE BED, to commemorate the Unknown Warrior, at today’s Service in Westminster Abbey. Click Here.

This is Sir Andrew Motion reading his wonderful poem, ARMISTICE, Click Here.

The Bed by Simon Armitage:

Sharp winds scissor and scythe those plains.

And because you are broken and sleeping rough

in a dirt grave, we exchange the crude wooden cross

for the hilt and blade of a proven sword;

to hack through the knotted dark of the next world,

yes, but to lean on as well at a stile or gate

looking out over fens or wealds or fells or wolds.

That sword, drawn from a king’s sheath,

fits a commoner’s hand, and is yours to keep.

And because frost plucks at the threads

of your nerves, and your bones stew in the rain,

bedclothes of zinc and oak are trimmed

and tailored to fit. Sandbags are drafted in,

for bolstering limbs and pillowing dreams,

and we throw in a fistful of battlefield soil:

an inch of the earth, your share of the spoils.

The heavy sheet of stone is Belgian marble

buffed to a high black gloss, the blanket

a flag that served as an altar cloth. Darkness

files past, through until morning, its head bowed.

Molten bullets embroider incised words.

Among drowsing poets and dozing saints

the tall white candles are vigilant sentries

presenting arms with stiff yellow flames;

so nobody treads on the counterpane,

but tiptoeing royal brides in satin slippers

will dress and crown you with luminous flowers.

All this for a soul

without name or rank or age or home, because you

are the son we lost, and your rest is ours.

Armistice by Andrew Motion

Now one thousand five hundred and sixty-four days end

every hour hand of every watch on the face of the earth

snaps to attention a fraction shy of the number eleven.

Their minute hands are still quivering with the effort

to complete the circle and therefore give the signal.

Whenever has machinery fine-tuned or otherwise

been able to refute with such a passionate precision

the idea that the body of time might flow like a river

and reveal it instead as a wide continuous landscape

a block universe where the sudden spotlight moon

introducing her face between cloud-curtains alights

now on one man dead already and now on one dying

while the scattered hinterland suffers its consequences

or delivers its warnings all connected but unavailable.


Then the minute hand in a spasm seals its promise

while penny whistles shriek and church bells clamour

while whizzbangs and 59s complete their trajectories

while long-faced telegram boys prop their bicycles

on lampposts and front gates and for the last time

press forward to deliver their dreadful condolences

and lark music like a distillation of daylight itself

which a moment before was neither here nor thereAdvertisement

sweetens as it escapes the pulsing throat of the bird

and rain also accustomed to no discernable voice

patters and pounds and performs on barren ground

and a very simple breath of wind entirely fills the air

and everyday clouds performing manifold contortions

saunter off and dissolve in the horizon of their origin.


Soon rolling out plans from their corridors and offices

highly efficient angels of the resurrection will descend

to align with names they went by in their earthly lives

nine million or thereabouts bodies and body-fragments.

What is the duration of individual grieving they allow

beyond an agreed upper limit of sixty-six characters.

Think of Private Roy Douglas Harvey who was killed

a reserved and thoughtful schoolboy from Hillhead

leaving behind among other valuable relics a diary

completed up to the evening before his dawn attack

along with a much-thumbed Collins Gem dictionary

from the pages of which rose and will continue rising

these words as time and space maintain their relation

my task accomplished and the long day done.