Saturday, May 18, 2024

Dunkirk Disaster

April 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Poetry

British Troops wade out to waiting rescue ships off Dunkirk.

Dunkirk Disaster

Beat the drum louder, pipe the pipes faster.

That is the way to drown out disaster.

The soldiers all huddled on sand dunes.

They had been fighting for days, without sleep.

They marched and they fought, in retreat and advance,

To end up on a beach, and wait for a boat.

Shot up, bombed, and worse, with nothing to eat.

Long lines of soldiers, leading into the sea.

Others lay face down, in the incoming surf,

They had paid the price of a soldier in war.

Some lay on stretchers, their minds past caring,

Orderlies and Doctors had done their best.

The backdrop of smoke from the Township burning,

The dark silhouettes on the smashed up jetty,

Boats on their sides with their sterns in the air

Exploding and smoking, crews swimming free,

Struggling and screaming from their burns and wounds.

The diving planes screamed in, each in its turn,

Adding still more to the death and destruction.

Then in the night the sound of men singing,

A group of Welsh Guardsmen in dry throated harmony,

Soon to be joined by others, to voice their defiance.

And down on the shore, flashing and sparkling,

The fluorescent sand shone in all its brilliance.

Then the boats came in and took off some more.

The kind hearted people met those who returned

With tea and cakes, and cigarette rations;

They welcomed us with smiling kindness,

No-one would have guessed at their Soldiers’ plight

For this was the Army’s greatest retreat.

The masters in Whitehall, masters still.

Their mistakes and blunders merely bad luck?.

So Generals get Knighthoods, Politicians get votes.

A medal for the soldiers for the hell of Dunkirk.

Beat the drum louder, pipe the pipes faster.

That is the way they covered up disaster.


One Response to “Dunkirk Disaster”
  1. Catherine says:

    Dear David
    My 11 year old boy is learning about WW2. This week’s assignment is about Dunkirk. In our googling, for facts and information, we came across your beautifully written poem. This had such a big impact on us both. It is vivid and profound giving more insight than any historical document ever could.
    Thank you (for your bravery in the war and for enlightening us with your poetry).
    I look forward to discovering more of your work