And again I can remember being frightened as I saw
A doodlebug come chugging past as I stood rooted to the floor
Watching, waiting at the window. "Please dear God don't let it stop"
For when the engine coughed and cut out, then the dreadful thing would drop.
O and then I can remember when the darkest days were there
How the British people gathered for a national day of prayer.
Backs were up against the wall and situations such as those
Brings a nation back to God and brings it down upon it's knees
Was the apple blossom blooming sweetly on the orchard bough?
Were the willow and the chestnut lovely then as they are now?
Did the bright clematis gambol gaily round the cottage door
And did the blackbird sing it's heart out just as though we weren't at war?
Yes, from what I can remember, as I look back and reflect
Heartbreak, death and devastation on these things have no effect.
God has set the world in motion. Man alone is given a choice
Nature follows His instructions. Man can just ignore his voice.
I remember, I remember that Tuesday on the eighth of May
And how the world was given the tidings. “Peace at last. 'Twas Victory day"
Church bells rang, bonfires were lighted, There was dancing in the square
"Now thank we all our God" we sang - and many people left Him there.
Once again we need to gather, crying out 'What have we done,
What has happened to our nation since the war was fought and won.’
Then we turned to God to save us in our time of desperate need.
Now men worship other gods and follow in another creed.
The lesson seems to be forgotten, That is why the memory
Must be preserved if only as the guardian of our liberty;
But the words our dear King gave us, that first Christmas of the war
Still apply to all of us today as ever did before.
“I said to him who I saw standing at the gateway of the year
Give me a light so I tread safely in this unknown path I fear”
And he replied “Go in the darkness. Place your hand in that of God.
It shall be a better light. Safer than any path you’ve trod”
Followers of this web site and readers of the Preston History book may well remember
Rebecca. She described so vividly what life was like at Preston during World War
Two. Link: Rebecca and WW2
Rebecca has written two poems which capture her thoughts on returning to Preston
twenty years after she had left the village and the effect of World War Two on the
Poppies at Preston today
Rebecca adds, “...calling my book of poems, “Poppies in the Corn” is a bit sentimental
but that was in the days before we had sprays to kill them off - pretty as they are,
where there are poppies, there is no wheat and one special field which we cycled
by on the way to school, every year war ablaze with poppies. Both of the poems were
written about twenty years ago.............when I said in the “All Change” poem that
I wished I could have ridden my bike up Preston Hill, I meant that although we biked
into Hitchin every day to the Grammar School and whilst my brothers and other lads
had gears on their bikes, I didn't - and always ended by dismounting and pushing
my bike to the top coming home.’
(I am grateful to Rebecca for allowing me to
include her delightful poems
A comment from a contemporary - WD: “Oh Philip, "delightful" simply does not cut
it. They are, in my opinion, absolutely brilliant and evoke very clear and wonderful
memories. Her "All Change" I loved because I went all the way to Preston with her,
the field of poppies and having to walk up the hill pushing my bike. The church which
is seldom open (I have actually never been inside it!) and walking through the lych
gate and through the avenue of yews. "In memory we can go back" I think she is right,
memories are better , locked in our hearts forever and things stay the same.
“I Remember,” which brought many memories. The evacuees, my long lasting friendship
with one of them who remained in Hitchin and died just last October. I remember too
Wailing Willie sounding and we all had to troop to somewhere safer than the classrooms
- don't think it happened often enough for me because I hated school! I certainly
remember the night my mother woke me to see on the horizon the glow of the London
blitz, she told me I was watching history. I remember too staying with a friend
overnight and watching a doodlebug fly through the sky, I believe it came down somewhere
near Charlton. And of course I remember Victory day, I too was in the square, along
with my recently dead friend, singing along to all the music with St Mary's illuminated
in the background. No, so very much more than “delightful”!