World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                                     Douglas Hewitt

The Story of DOUGLAS HEWITT (my husband) – Part 1

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Douglas Hewitt, Hilda Hewitt (Nee Bell)
Location of story: Tubrook, North Africa , Leipzig, Germany, Bedford
Unit name: Royal Artillery
Background to story: Army


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Julie Turner of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Hilda Hewitt and has been added to the site with the author’s permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

The Story of DOUGLAS HEWITT (my husband) – Part 1

Douglas Hewitt was a gunner in the Royal Artillery.

Doug joined the army before the war began, I think there were two or three more pals who joined up at the same time.

When the war was declared in 1939, Doug had to be posted abroad. Doug was stationed in South Africa, North Africa, Middle East and France.

Tubrook in North Africa was where he and his Regiment were taken prisoners. They were first taken to an Italian prison camp but later moved to Leipzig in Germany.

Doug did not talk very much about the fighting but talked about the comradeship between the men and the lighter moments.

He told me about some of the men who were prisoners with him who made their own so called alcoholic drink which was deadly. He said it use to lay them out for about two days.

They all looked forward to getting their food parcels and letters from home.

Doug’s Mum got the telegram to say he was missing as at that time she was the next of kin (we were not married then). I was the first to get a letter from the prison camp to say he was safe.

I myself was working away from home in Bedford in a factory that made ship’s engines. There were a few girls from Sheffield there. I worked on what they called a milling machine, we used to do day and night shifts. I was there for 2 years until 1945. There was an American Air Base quite near and in Summer, in the early mornings, when we had finished our shift we use to see the American aeroplanes going over in droves to bomb Germany, this was at the latter part of the War. The American Bomber didn’t fly a night, it was the RAF who did a lot of night raids over Germany.

Whilst at Bedford the Germans use to drop their doodle bombs, this was very frightening, they use to sound like a motor bike engine, when the noise had stopped we knew then it had landed somewhere.

I came home from Bedford in March, 1945, 2 months before the end of the War. Doug came home in May and we got married in June 1945.

Doug was still on the Army pay roll when he came out of the Army, so when War broke out two years later in Korea he was called up again to go to Korea but he did not pass his medical and was discharged out of the Army on medical grounds.


These poems were found in a book kept by Doug Hewitt, who was Captured at Knightsbridge, Western Desert, 6th June, 1942.


The last pale roses droop and die
Beneath the Autumn rain
I wonder will you be with me
Before they bloom again
The birds have left the cottage eaves
For skies of brighter blue
But they’ll come back remembering
O’will you come back too
The air is thick with flying leaves
The year is growing old
I pray you’ll be with me
To see the new green buds unfold.
The apple boughs now red with fruit
Will soon be white with rime
God grant that you be home again
Before its Blossom time.


Red Cross we thank you for all you do
Every day you are helping us through.
Delicious hot tea we can frequently brew.

Coffee and cocoa we thought, we’d not get.
Remember the joy of that first cigarette.
Oh for some chocolate was once the cry.
Seems that the Red Cross heard our great sigh.
Sincerely we thank you, for all you do.

Sometimes we’re browned off, or feeling blue.
Or even be feeling quite sad.
Come what mood may, there’s one thing that true.
In Red Cross we’ll always be glad.
Every parcel we have the luck to receive
Tom, Dick or Harry it’s bound to relieve.
You’ll join in with me and say that it’s true

Red Cross We Thank You.
For all that you do. Anon – P.O.W.


Ye flowery banks O’Bonnie Doone.
How can ye blume sae fair.
How can ye chant ye little birds
And I sae fua care
Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonnie bird
That sings upon the bough.
Thou minds me “O” the happy days
When my faus luve was true
Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonnie bird
That sings beside thy mate.
For sae I sat and sae I sang
And wist nao my fate.
Oft have I roved by bonnie doon
To see the Woodbine Twine
And ilka birds sang it’s tune
And sae did I’o nune
Wi lightsome heart I pud a rose
Frae off its thorny tree.
And my faust luver taw the rose
And left the thorn wi me.


A stark and mute grey monument
Point they finger to the skie
In sign of death, life’s sole emulment.
They finger waits to welcome, we ho die.
Those sacred rows of crosses stand
In memory of those passed on
Those ayawning pits, in the desert sands
Await those who are yet to come
A wooden cross, with a number plain
A heap of sand piled high
They loss became they countries gain.
But was it worth, ye who died.
Those wooden crosses, beseeching spread.
A symbol of one man’s love
A stained with hatreds blood instead
What thinks he, who sits above.
Surely as he gazes down
In anguish, sharp as pain
He wonders, as he sees each mound
Was my sacrifice in vain.
Did I die that those my love
|Mankind whose earthly span
Is steeped in blood, can I forgive
This cruelty of man to man. Anon – P.O.W.

Each life has its crosses
And a soldier gets his share.
From a star across the ocean,
To the envied Croix De Guerre.

Thee are crosses, by the censor
Far too many, so it seems.
There are crosses, on his letters
From the girl of his dreams.

There’s a cross that’s worn by heroes
Who have faced a storm of lead,
There’s a cross, when he is wounded
And a cross when he is dead.

Then there’s that cross of mercy
That very few may own.
To a soldier it is second
To that of God alone.

It’s a cross that’s worn by a women,
When we see it, we believe
We recognise an angel
By the Red Cross on her sleeve. Anon - P.O.W.


That day in June we all remember
Dim, though like smouldering ember.
The day, when roaring through the sky
Came thrilling sound of battle nigh.

Not as in the days of old
When knights in armour, so we’re told
Did pit their strength, wits and skill
And when they failed, they paid the bill.

We listened to that Battle cry
Of modern machines up in the sky
Of tanks and cars and screaming shells.
Truly we lived in Dante’s Hell.

The page of glory by some was paid
And those we could to rest, we laid
And when night fell, to our dismay
We found that we had lost the day.

The days that followed as we know
Has done their best to damp the glow.
Of a spirit, that’s stronger, by the test
Though hunger and cold have done their best.

We know that as the months go by
Freedoms cross is growing nigh
For in a land not far away
Our might is growing day by day.

That silver lining not so far
Brings memories of ones so dear.
So here I end first one word,
Smile on, keep faith and trust in God. - Sgt. P. Parry.

An optimist is the person who sees a light that is not there.

A pessimist is the person who tries to put out the light.


There’s a lady that is waiting in a land o’er the sea
With a genuine welcome for you and for me.
With a smile and a kiss and a loving embrace.
Happiness glowing on her sweet smiling face.
It’s a love that is different, the love of a mother.
A love that can ne’er be shared by another
A love that is true, that is deep and sincere
Growing in depth with each passing year.
She has worked and prayed for each of her brood
Taught them to be honest, straightforward and true.
Has moulded the clay in her own special way
To weather the storms of each passing day.

She tended our needs and guarded our health
Given advice, the choice of her wealth.
Of experience gleaned in the years of her youth
Taught us with care and with patience and truth
It’s a true mother’s love, as you can see
That’s extended to us from o’er the sea
So let us remember the things she has wrought
And repay her with kindness of every sort.
There’s a lady that’s waiting in a land o’er the sea
With a homecoming welcome, when you are free.
She’ll hold you and kiss you and hold you so tight,
That’s all she prays for all days and each night. - Sgt. P. Parry.


I thought of mother, so old and so frail
As last night to battle we tramped
To the wail of the pipes and swirl of the kilts
As shoulder to shoulder we tramped.

I thought of my sweethearts, so young and so fair
As on through the desert we marched
To the clink of our steel and the crunch of our feet
And a thought of our duty out there.

Then in we charged, where the fighting was thickest
For twas there where out fathers had gone
With the wail of our pipes and the clash of our steel
And the cry of the clan in the air.
We fought like sons of the devil
The laddies from Hell, we were there.

And now as we lay in the desert
In rest from that bloody affair
We know there will always be Scotland
And Scotland will always be there.


There’s a rough wood cross, somewhere up the blue
Mid the camel scrub and the stones and sand
And the conways pass, with a fleeting view,
Of this lonely grave in a foreign land.

And to some who go, mayhaps take no heed
To others a cross, a few stones that’s all.
And even the few who stop to read
Can scarce decipher the pencilled scrawl.

There’s a number, a rank and a date
Forgotten so soon as we wonder on
Yet to someone at home who vowed to wait
It means all that’s dear in life has gone.

So if you should pass where those lone graves are
Pause to read, spare a thought or two
For the hopes that be wrecked by the Gods of War
Neath a rough wood cross, somewhere up the Blue. - A. Webster.


In bygone days when up the blue
Mid sound, flies and scorpions too.
We stuck it then because we knew
Someone is waiting at home.

An Tobruk no longer free,
Hungry and thirsty we used to be,
It is with us still, you and me
Someone is waiting at home.

Now life is better, though still barbed wire
The same thoughts still do ones heart inspire
That back in Blighty, our hearts desire.
Someone is waiting at home.

In time to some , with an end to war,
We look ahead and see hope not far,
To the day when we are back, to where our loved ones are.
Someone is waiting at home. - A. Webster.


We laid him down to rest that night.
Beneath a starry sky.
He’s done his duty, that was best.
Was ne’er afraid to die.

Before he closed his eyes that lad
He asked me beat his drum
I beat a soft retreat for him
Ad cried for he’s my son.

He died that night my drummer boy
Yet still he wore a smile
He know I’d never forget him
For he’s all I had worthwhile.

We buried him a hero
Before a rising sun.
We bowed our head in silence
As a bound boy beat his drum. Anon - P.O.W.


Let the world drink a toast to the bold Cameron men
Their war cries no boast, as they prove once again,
For back in the streets of a little French town
They stood in the doorways and mowed the Huns down.

And doomed though they were, no man was afraid
While Jerry fell back in his team and dismayed,
Cos had not their fathers some strange stores to tell,
Of the men who wore kilts, called the “Ladies from Hell”.

Now out in the harbour lay ships of the Fleet,
Aye bearing Britains young sons in their fine retreat,
While back on the shores, they still held the field,
For as long as he’s living no Cameron can yield.

The streets were a shambles, the gutters ran red,
The flowers of the Camerons, their life’s blood had shed,
But still they held back that mad German horde.
Till the last British Tommy was safely aboard.


He was only a stumped tail poodle
He had no pedigree
He was born in a Libyan dust storm,
Near an Itye R.A.P.
He would do his share of line guard
And share of piquets as well,
And never a crime had Bobby
And never an A.W.L.
He saw his share of fighting
And fought like a soldier too,
For we though him to conceal and cover,
In the barracks at Merza Matruh,
He barked at the plains of Olympus,
And fought in the thick of the War,
The boys of “C” company loved him
And called young Bobby a man.
For Bobby was born a battler,
Though with none of a battlers luck,
For he who dodged live bombing,
Had to die, neath an Arab truck,
So we gave him a soldiers funeral,
It was all that we could do,
For Bobby of Tobruck was a cobber of ours,
And helped us to see it through. Anon – P.O.W.


Across the sandy wastes I gaze,
And my thoughts go back to happier days.
Spent neath trees of leafy green,
When ones eyes, were rested on a peaceful scene.

Where your reverse last for hours,
Among the sunshine and the flowers.
No winged monsters, snarling drone to spoil,
As you relax on Gods bumphous soil.

Those days are gone, they were so dear,
They’ll come again we have no fear.
Ours sights are growing dim, tears cannot hide
As the desert change to Sarnia’s country side
And when that day is over and done.
No more will I want to be a rover.
For the ship that takes me homeward bound
Forever in my heart, will be renowned.

When on deck I’ll proudly stand,
Fast nearing good Old Guernsey’s shore
I’ll say then twas not in vain,
For look boys, what we had to gain. - Anon - P.O.W.


A night descends on a lonely place,
Strange shadows play on a ghostly face,
In a dusty heap in the open there
Lay a soldier who had fallen in the fray.
Blood from the battle stains his hair
As he softly murmurs an unheard prayer,
Sands from the desert, where he had fought
Where death had drawn pain.
As he lay there, a thousand thoughts find
Their passage through a tortured mind
He thinks of home and all things right,
A peaceful land on a summers night
He thinks of a girl who is waiting there
Waiting in vain to an unheard prayer.
Of rich fields, of swaying grain
A running stream a shady lane.
He turns his head, chokes back a cry.
Then wipes a tear from a tired eye.
His strength is ebbing, he’s sinking fast.
Fighting and struggling to the very last.
As the sky is filled with the light of dawn
He lies there pallied, with features drawn
He does not care, nor stir nor heed.
Another victim of another green. Anon - P.O.W.


Aft the war is over,
After the strife is done
We will go back to our homes in clover,
Back to our towns and fun.

We will sail the mighty ocean,
Back to the land, we adore,
Back to our homes and loved ones
To stay there for evermore.

We are leaving the empty spaces
Leaving our comrades who fell
Always remember their faces
As their lies, they did bravely sell.

Freedom will reign for evermore
Men will be saved from hell
Bells will be ringing and singing
The world their joys to tell.


It’s easy enough to be pleasant,
When life flows along like a song.
But the man worthwhile
Is the man who can smile
When everything goes dead wrong.
For the test of the heart is trouble,
And it always comes with the years.
But the man who is worth
The praises of earth.
Is the man who can smile through the tears.

It is easy enough to be virtuous
When nothing tempts you to stray.
When without or within
No voice of sin.
Is luring your soul away.
But tis only a negative virtue
Until it is tried by the fire
And the man who is worth
The honour of earth
Is the man who resists desire. F. R. Havergail - P.O.W.

Rich perfumes of tropic flowers
Star pierced velvet skies above
Careless moments – happy hours
Nights of magic – made for loe.

Dusky maids in Lulas swaying
Paddles stir a still lagoon,
Sweet guitars are softly playing,
Neath the yellow southern moon.

Natures gem in Verdant setting
Golden sands – a turquoise sea
Gentle breezes – palm trees fretting
Island heaven – Waikiki. Webster – P.O.W.

Punctuality - The art of arriving for an appointment first, in time to be indignant at the tardiness of the other party.

The P.O.W. who thought : That back pay was the extra pay W.O’s got for lying down all day.
That minesweepers were the sanitary squad in a colliery.


I think of you, I know not where you are
But you are in mind, the whole long day.
I know you wish, that I should carry on
And do my best, whilst you are far away.

And Oh! I send you special love each night
Wherever in the darkness you may be.
And somehow when I whisper my goodnight
I feel your loving thoughts come back to me. Nostaw - P.O.W.


Never was so much owed by so may to so few.
If men speak ill of you, live so that no man believe them.
Envy has no holiday.
The man who says I go not, and after words repents, and goes, generally travels the devil of a long way.


I’ll tell you a tale of a Martuba
Off gunners from old Blighty shores.
Of Stuka’s and bombs and machine guns
Of M.E’s and Macchis and more.
On through the night with ne’er a light
We crept till the break of day
With sand in our eyes, we searching the skies
For the birds, that in Martuba lay.
A roar in the air, means an M.E. is there
And he’s out to settle a score.
As the rounds of our guns, slow the start of the fun
And the Stukas come out and lots more.
And then comes the crack of Bafor Act-Ack.
And the Bren Guns also let drive.
One Stuka his tricks end, with just two kicks
He comes down in a desert bound dive
We load up our rounds, for the Martuba we’re bound
And so on for more weary hours
Till at night we are quite on our marks.
With the dead on the deck, theirs and ours.
Aye we’re the boys, Old Englands sons.
Just some of the lads in the racket,
With our quads and our guns and our downed
You betcha we gave em a packet.


Remember, remember the 20th of December
The day that the louts were all flat.
All sweating on Monday
Then flash on the Sunday.
They lobbed out five fags
And Italian at that.
Though it wasn’t prolific
The shock was terrific
They say S.M. Lloyd had to take to his bed.
But of course there were snags
We all didn’t get fags.
For some Joe’s like me
Got tobacco instead.

A hungry mans food
A sad mans cordial
A chilly mans fire.


Oh! For the touch of a womans hand.
And the sound of a voice that’s tender.
For the loving care of a maiden fair.
A bloomin good darner and mender.


Twas after Christmas Red Cross Scoff
Of nineteen fourty two
I felt fatigued and full right up
So slept with dreams askew.

To Hollywpood by express train
My dreams had been fixed up
Changed it was, from usual style.
The stars were all mixed up.

I saw “Grace Moore” with accetn told.
With leopold Stokowski
Putting over “Tiger Rag”,
Whilst “Ellington” played “Tchowski”.

“Stan Laurel” was rehearsing part
Part for “Scarletts” famous story.
Olly Hardy “acting stooge
For Gable and hise glory”.

“Mae West” expressed a great desire
In accent slightly foreign,
“To be alone” whilst Garbo said,
“Come up and see me sometime.

Crosby with a deep Bass voice,
Singing from Opera Grand.
While Joe, E. Brown, with canny skill,
Conducted “Whiteman’s” Band.

Spencer Tracy tired is lbest
To tap dance with “Anne Harding”,
“Basil Rathbone” chased around
The “Three Smart Girls”, a pounding.

Something pierced my eardrums sharp
“Twas Revielli “ being sounded,
“Coffee Up” the cry was heard,
I found this dream unfounded. - Sgm. Sangar.


Lofty stood and Lofty stared
What was this thing, that he had heard.
That for his parcel it was his turn
They decided, the issue to adjourn.

He cursed, he rowed, he swore, he fumed,
As up and down his bunk he roamed.
Swearing revenge with never a truce
That next time he would not cut a duce.

The parcel arrived, Lofty looked for his klim,
Bully and Salmon, Oh where is that tin.
A look on his face, showed that alls not well.
For all Lofty found was a tin of “Cow
The Bully was bad, the cheese did smell
The chocolate was broken, Oh go to hell,
Was Lofty’s reply at half past seven,
When he counted his biscuits and found only eleven. Sgt. Bowen.


She’s an angel truth, a demon in fiction
A womans the greatest of all contradiction.
She’s afraid of a cockroach, she’ll scream at a mouse
But she’ll tackle a husband as big as a house.
She’ll take him for etter, she’ll take him for worse
She’ll split his head open, then be his nurse.
And when he is well and get out of bed
She’ll pick up a teapot and throw it at his head.
She’s faithful, deceitful keen sighted and blind
She’s crafty, she’s simple, she’s cruel, she’s kind
She’ll lift a man up and she’ll cast a man down
She’ll make him her ruler, she’ll make him her clown,
You fancy she’s this, you’ll find that she’s that
For she’ll play like a kitten and fight like a cat.

Gimme a vast celestial bed
With fevvers ten miles deep
And gimme a couple of centuries
To get me a bit of sleep.

And buddy if you’re a pal of mine
Bid all the joy bells cease
An gimme wot I bin fighting for
I needs a bit of peace.


They came and they said to Private Jones
As he stepped on Englands shore.
Come in and tell us what yer wants
And you shall have it and more.

Feating and feasting day after day,
Or medals row upon row
Triumphal music wot do yer say
And the private answered “No”.

Gimme a pint of English Beer,
An a couple of cheap cheroots,
An two of the stoutest lads yer got
To help me out of me boots.

Fill me a forty gallon barf,
Wiv ater ‘ot as ell’
An stop all the folks from asking me
Wot stories I’ve to tell.


As I laze away the hours
And dream first when I can
I think of you my darling
And the happy hours I plan

I sit and plan I think
About the glorious days to come
I think of you my darling
Of the pleasant things we’ve done

Then again I see the heather
The mountain and the stream
I pray to God to hasten
The object of my dreams.

So chin up now my sweetheart,
Please don’t worry never boy,
Remember I’m yours always
Yes, even to the sky. P.O.W.


Moving oer an empty desert
Looking at an empty sky
No “this not entirely empty,
Moving objects catch the sky,
Empty tins in countless numbers
Scattered oer the desert sands,
Filling up the empty places,
Of a very empty land.
Empty drums and empty barrels
Million empty white snail shells,
An empty dried up bushes
Some very dirty empty wells.
Empty trucks all rumbling backward
Going to the army base
Raising heavy dust clouds, skywards
Filling up more empty spaces,
Now we’ve erached the empty Waddi;
And a greater paradox,
For this barren empty hollow,
Is filled up with empty rocks,
All the empty freaks of nature,
Blasted by the desert storms,
Grinding but in stony places,
Leaving empty grotesque forms.
Holes filled up with empty boxes,
Cigarettes of many brands,
The place is full of paradox’s
Empty things of empty land.
Empty dugouts, empty benches,
Littered up with disused shells,
Dented shells, filled up with papers
Many vivid story tells.
Empty bottles, “very empty”,
Empty cases of Aussie beer.
Littering the empty shelters,
Obviously all emptied here.
Looking at these empty bottles
As given me a dried up throat,
And I have an empty feeling
And no handy antidote.
Never mind, lifes not empty
I can have a soothing smoke,
But oh! Hell, my packets empty
Curse that cadging M.T. bloke,
Now I have an empty stomach
Ah! There goes the cookhouse hell.
The cook is pounding on the casing
Ofan empty Ack-Ack shell.
With empty mug and dixie
I must now fall into line
When I’ve filled up empty places,
I’ll again be feeling fine.
I could empty many pots
That’s not an empty boast,
So fill up my empty dixie
With that very tasty roast.
Armies march upon their stomachs,
A paradox and very true
Now the blue sky is not so empty
The future as a rosy hue. T. Vanstead - U.D.F.


We have a lovely pub down here,
It’s called the “Old King Cole”
Where we repair for quarto of beer
When we have drawn the dole.

We never tire of drinking, mind,
It makes a fit man fitter,
But for a change we thought we’d find
Who was the champion spitter.

Well Alf stepped up with shouts galore
Let both legs take his weight
Then swaying from the floor,
He made the clock strike eight.

Next contestant, young Stan, looked bored,
No beating round the bush,
He on the billiard table scored,
A cannon off the cush.

Then Bill stepped up to prove himself
And without hesitation,
Loaded and aimed whereon the shelf
Stood the cash registration.
Ting went the bell, the drawer flew out
And on the counter lay,
A bill in print for three and nought
With many thanks and paid.

Next on the list was Jim and he
With scarcely any sound
So neatly hit the barmaids arm,
She served up drinks all round.

Came crafty Jack, the last at that
A cunning man and rapid,
Before we’d guessed what he was at
He’d let go ten round rapid.

Each man was caught there, by surprise,
And in a couple of winks,
While we were cleaning up our eyes,
He’d mopped up all our drinks.

Well that’s the list of all that tried
And that is the position.
The beers on us if you decide
Which one won the Competition. - R. C. Collins.


This is the end for us – the Libyan shore
Recedes from view and we the remnant left.
Of a once proud array, are done with war.
To foes abandoned and of hopes bereft
A multitude of starving, broken men,
Bewildered, haggard, dulled in mind and sense.
Like cattle, driven to an alien pen.
And left, to live behind a barbed wire fence.
With shaking limbs and eyes bloodshot and red,
We beg the scowling guard for cigarettes
Like maniacs we scream and fight for bread.
Like wolves we snarl at what the others get.
For once again we live by jungle law.
To brutish beast, transformed by war.

We are the men who marched away to war.
Deceived by words in mouths of those who reach
Strong hearts, by clever cant and studied roar
Of countries praise in hot exhultant speech.
We offered life itself, for we deemed life
Most nobly lost, if only freedom rules.
But his we learned in agony and strife.
High sounding words are simply bait for fools
How stupid is the prate of orators
Who endless, talk of glory of flag.
Who fill the other with the chant of war
And summon men for death from dale and crag!
For what are words, as long as guns are fed?
When those who use them never see the dead. P.O.W.


It is a melancholy state, you are in the power of your enemies, you owe your life to his humanity, your daily bread to his compassion, you must obey his ordes, await his pleasures, possess your soul in patience. The days are very long, hours crawl by like paraletic centipedes, moreover the whole atmospheres of prison, the most easy and regulated prison is odious.

Companions quarrel over nothing and get the least possible pleasure from each others company, you feel a constant humiliation being fenced in by railings and wire, watch by armed men and web bed by a triangle of regulations and restrictions.

--------- O --------

Women have their own braveries, their own mighty courageousness that is of women and not to be compared with the courage shown by man.

--------- O ---------


We wont forget those blasted lice,
The macoroni and the rice,
That football too – at least the price,
The issue cheese.

The midstay “chou” or is it water,
Those blokes at night when out the clatter,
The raffle run by Pte Platter
And things like these.

Those roll calls on the brewery ground
The wood we stole – Les Pariton “found”.
Those tiny loaves when they come round
And bread “Buckshees”.

Canteen staff ordered – waited long
The day my Yorkshire Duff went wrong,
The Gruff of Wilson, Bloomfield, Strong,
And things like these.
The homemade stoves and fildy brews.
The “piece per man” meat day stews,
The fags rolled with P.O.W. news,
But here’s my vote -

For a memory that will not fail
Yes more than parcels – more than mail
The day when homeward bound we sail
Roll on the Boat.

In years to come when I am done,
This roaming life of mine
A home I’ll take that’s got its stake
Beside the ocean brine,
And in the evening there I’ll play
Wet sand to make and mould and sway
With bucket and spade – my hate my aid
So mortifying sand. – Sam Lotorm in Libya



When we have fires with coal again,
And get back on the dole again,
And no one calls a roll again,
How happy we shall be.

When our best girls we hug again,
And don’t need to debug again,
And sit and pull a plug again,
Why then we’ll know we’re free.

When four ‘aways’ are found again,
And feet at night don’t sound again,
And loaves all weigh two pounds again
How jolly that will be.

When we see a picture house again
And never find a louse again,
And Liverpool blokes get ‘scouse’again
Why then we’ll know we’re free.

When we don’t cut for cheese again
Nor out these two doors squeeze again,
When someone shouts “fares please” again
Why then we’ll know we’re free.

When “meat days” do mean meat again
Don’t get parcels, yet cut again,
We’ll be in civvy street again - in 1944.
He who sows courtesy, reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.

IF – (P.O.W. version).

If you can keep your clothes from getting shabby,
When those around lose pride and self respect,
And creep about, both mind and muscles flabby,
With lice they’ve bred in dirt and self respect.
If you can bear to stand in queues for hours
To get your little bit of this and that
And still remember sun comes after showers,
And it is said that laughing makes you fat.

If you can take the food that you are given,
Not make a lot of fuss nor great ado,
The chap who issues really hasn’t striven
To save the smallest portion just for you.
If rice or macaroni when you draw it
Seems rather less than that your neighbour got
If you try to forget you ever saw it
And eat yours up, at least you’ll find it hot.

If rumours false, do not make you downhearted,
And quieter do you help them on their way
But try and find out first where they’re started,
Instead of just believing what they say
If sorely tried you keep your temper steady
And bear in mind, that no ones feeling grand,
You’ll find there’s still a chap who’s ready
To give, if your in need, a helping hand.

If you can find the strength, to grin and bear it,
Or make life lighter, with a smile or song,
When you’ve a little joy, go out and share it
And then you’ll find your troubles won’t last long
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With 60 seconds worth of hope and cheer
This camp and all the other fellows in it
Will be the better for you being here.


At the end of the day, when my work is through,
Back I go to a nest, where my dreams come true,
For there I’ll find peace in that haven of love,
Built by the hands of the angels above.

At the end of the lane, she alone waits for me.
Two white arms, I adore, bringing sympathy,
And the sweet voice I’ll hear
Say goodnight Daddy dear,
At the end of the day for me.


We send you this for Xmas boys, its not a mighty lot,
But shows amid our local joys, that you are not forgot,
The best of luck for 43 – good hunting with the Hun
A welcome waits for you, from me, if we meet before you’ve done.
(A message from the Mayoress of Durham to the Army of the Nile).


Oft times my mind returns to the day I left home.
When I bid farewell to Blighty shores, for foreign lands to roam.
At the pyramids and sphinx and other wonders I have gazed
On the battle fields of Lybya, where the burning sun has blazed.

On the graves of former comrades, who for the price of glory paid
They can never be forgotten for the sacrifice they made.
They left their homes and loved ones, to oppose the German might,
To fight for Britain’s freedoms and everything that’s right

Their lives have not been wasted nor have they died in vain
For when the day of victory comes, we’ll remember them again.
There’ll be great rejoicing when we’re sailing o’er the foam
Back to deal old Blighty, and the ones we left at home.


How little we appreciate,
The simple things in life,
The things that make,
This life of ours worthwhile.
How true is that old saying,
You never miss the water
Till the well runs dry.

And now our well is empty,
And we stop to realise,
How much we miss our Sunday tea.
And mother’s apple pie.
How much we’d like to read a book,
In the armchair by the fire,
Or twiddle with the radio,
For the programme we desire.

If I thought,
As I ought,
Of England home and beuty,
I think I could
Be nearly good,
And not scoff all my rooty.

But I find,
That my mid,
Runs solely on the topic,
Large and crude,
Chunks of food.

So heavenly nurse,
Please excuse,
This venture into rhyme,
I must be off,
My stodge to scoff,
As its nearly dinner time.


You can dream of peace and quiet,
When you’re listening to this riot,
Of hammering and splitting lumps of wood.
But you’ll never get a kip.
Till you’re safe aboard that ship
Thats taking you home for good.
Yes its Tin, Tin, Tin,
That devil of a din.
As they manufacture stones and drinking mugs
And the only way to stop it,
Is to scrape into your pocket
And to stuff a bit of rag in each lug.


The sun in all its fury,
Blazed down on all that wasted land
And men whose eyes forever swept.
Cursed the burning sand
But just to show its might
The sun would disappear
And turn the day to stilly night
A stillness you could hear.

Then bitter cold to soothe the flesh,
On natures stormy soil,
Crept o’er that vast expanding waste,
Where moses once did toil.
Only then from dug-out deept
Crept men from dark to light,
With but one thought in every mind,
To carry on the fight.


Overheard there’s a ceiling of silver,
And I pray neath its starry dome,
To be safe in the arms of my love ones,
In the harbour of home sweet home.


He landed at Southampton
In the Spring of 43,
That gallant British soldier
From far across the sea.
And there and then made a vow
Never more to roam.
He had fast returned from Africa
A Desert Rat back home.


A cross of red, a simple sign, yet what a place it holds,
Its flag is flown, o’er all the world, all creeds its power enfolds.
Without, nothing could be done, no mission could go through,
No soul could rest, our heart be strong, disasters would accrue.

In times of hate and war and strife, it carries on the same,
The more its deeds are called upon, the brighter grows its flame.
Its on the spot at every call, its sure in night or day,
When fols are sick and things go wrong it gets there right away.

Sometimes we’re apt to treat it light, its works as things of cause,
We pass it by without a thought and never its deeds endorse,
Yet most of us, when things go wrong upon its gifts depend.
And realise that the Red Cross stands out our greatest friend
This thing then lads we vow we’ll do, when freedom we regain.
We’ll do our bit, however small, to help that Red Cross reign.

--------- O ---------

Tis easy to tell the toiler
How best to carry his pack
But no one can rate the burdens weight
Until it has been on his back.

If you’ve a tender message,
Or a loving word to say,
Don’t wait till you forget it
But whisper it today.

All evil thoughts and deeds
Anger and lust and pride,
The foulest rankest weeds,
That chokes lifes groaing tide.


I sit here thinking, in this concentration camp,
My thoughts are ever roaming, but my spirits rather damp.
The atmosphere is gloomy, but your face shines like a lamp.
When I’m dreaming of my darling love of thee.

At night when all is quiet and we’ve had out tea,
We start to play at catch me with the darned elusive flea.
And this goes on till the hour of bread and cheese,
When I’m dreaming of my darling love of thee.

We even go out brewing midst all the rain and muck,
Blowing at embers and cursing at our luck.
And then we find all the conners gone so we have to duck,
When I’m dreaming of my darling love of thee.

We also have a roll call in the early hours of light,
And Sergeant yells “Nah then lads get fell in”.
And when they all roll out of bed “Cor blimey what a sight”,
When I’m dreaming of my darling love of thee.

But anyhow its not so bad, the war’ll soon be o’er,
It won’t be long before we boys step on Blighty shores.
And when at last we meet again we won’t part anymore.
Ill sit and dream my darling love of thee.

--------- O ---------

They died in their glory, surrounded by fame,
And victory’s loud trump their death, did proclaim.
They are dead but they live in each patriots breast
And their names are ingrown
On honours bright crest.

No one is so accursed by the fate
No one so utterly desolate
But some heart, though unknown,
Responds unto his own.

Intelligence and courtesy not always are combined,
Often a wooden house a golden room we find.

Build today, then strong and sure
With a firm and simple base.
And ascending and secure
Shall tomorrow find its place.

Happy thrice happy everyone,
Who see his labour, well begun
And not perplexed and multiplied,
By idly waiting for time and tide.

Enjoy the Spring of love, youth,
To some good angel leave the rest,
For time will teach thee, soon the truth,
There are no birds in last years next

Be still sad heart! And cease refining.
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining.
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life, some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

And that smile like sunshire dart
Into many a sunless heart.
For a smile of God thou art.

The following poem was found in the effects of a companion who had passed to higher fellowship and given to me P.C. Jack Starkey, 35 Mess).

I stood among companions in the room so dimly lit,
Where none but true ex-service men see fit,
To pledge themselves in comradeship officer and man,
To deep and lasting fellowship which service life began.

Silently we stood there, united in our bond,
With thoughts of those still with us, of those who had passed beyond.
When in our midst a vision seemed to fashion in my brain,
Past comrades stood among us attending mess again.

Not only those companions who had joined the F.O.S.
But others living in the hearts of those at mess,
Men from ships and Aircraft, men from no man’s land,
From trenches, gun pits, first aid posts, each gripped anothers hand.

They had met within our mess room their pledges to renew,
And as the vision faded and the scenes more distant grew,
Our toast they softly echoed as from a muffled drum,
To their comrades of the uniform, dead, living and to come.
A child’s prayer – Jodie Johnson (Age – Nine)

50 Years Late (In honour of the men of D-Day 1944).

I am only a child,
And it’s hard to explain,
The feelings I have,
As I sit in the rain,
And think of the men,
Who went off to war,
Knowing they would not
Come home anymore.
I cannot say thank you,
To the men left in France,
Who laid down their lives,
To give me a chance,
I cannot say thank you,
To the ones who returned,
For thank you is not

What those brave men earned,
I owe them my life,
As I live it today,
A life lived in freedom,
Because of that day.
I owe them much more,
Than I can ever repay,
I owe them the li fes,
That they gave up that day.
They will live in my heart
For as long as I live,
And my children will learn
Of that gift that they give.



This took place before I went to work away. The bombing took place on the Thursday and Sunday nights, it started at about 7 o’clock and went on until early morning. There were about 8 of us, all sat in a little kitchen some of them were elderly neighbours. A bomb was dropped at the back where we were and we felt the vibrations of it. It blew some of our windows out at the back.

My Mum and Dad and myself were in my sister’s house with these other neighbours. We lived next door to my sister, her husband and children and when the siren gave the all clear we all went out into the street, just grateful we were still alive. We could see the glow in the sky from the burning buildings in the town and the trams that were on fire. There was a Public House up the road from where we lived and the landlady and landlord were killed and the one that dropped at the back of our house also killed some people.

A lot of the Town centre had to be rebuilt after the war.