I Once Walked There… Lest We Forget!

Once, only once… I walked those hallowed grounds
where brittle, icy twigs cracked and exploded underfoot
where bone fragments and bits of shrapnel still lay strewn
where new roots have set and woods grow tall and strong

Once, I walked the icy lanes between fields of memories
while the spirits of men moan on the narrow winter wind
ghosts of the restless soldiers yearn for ultimate release
as whimpers of morphine’s delirium rustle the fallen leaves

Once, long ago, I walked on that frozen midwinter’s soil
where my countrymen were blown to their eternity in tiny bits
where they in agony sobbed, crying for mercy or a sip of water
begging long departed mothers to drag them from the mire

Once, yes… just once, I trod where before men in their scores
beseeched fathers to pull them from muddy bomb-blast craters
or, for God to save their desperately tortured anguished souls
to rescue them from the sorrow of the manmade living hell

Yes… once I walked on the shell-shredded broken earth
where now the twin rows of oaks grow mature and strong
where the South African flag flies forever in perpetuity
on a corner of a field of the Somme’s Northern France

I thought I heard the voices whisper
Calling… urging for me to join
At the end of my finite days
When my last breath I breathe…

Then, once I’m there, united with comrades of old
Maybe I too, can fully comprehend the violent terror…
The horror and grotesqueness of the abominable war
The war, that was said by many, to end all wars!

Once I’ve returned to rest in the earth among the bluebells
Then maybe I’ll hear their tales of guts and glory first hand
While the drummer boy beats out the pulse of the living wood
Only when I hear those sweet voices of angels will I understand

I’ve only ever visited the SA Memorial once and that was a week before Christmas. The experience will stay with me for the rest of my days! The temperature never rose above zero degrees C but my good lady and I were so captivated by the experience that we spent the whole day visiting a few different sites, beginning with Delville Wood where the SA Memorial is located.

I will unashamedly say I had tears in my eyes more than once. The cold only seemed to drive home the appreciation of the suffering those men must have endured… not for a day but some for an eternity!

Yes, I have to return… I have pledged to take my sons there… I have also pledged never to forget and to do my bit to keep the flame burning! Those folk, from many nations, fought for our FREEDOM! Thanks you for your sacrifice!

Please begin at the top left corner to see all the captions… God Bless!

For the fascinating history please click on the official link below…


About aj vosse

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15 Responses to I Once Walked There… Lest We Forget!

  1. vastlycurious.com says:

    Thanks for sharing. Beautiful serene photos and the poem. Did you write it?


  2. magreenlee says:

    Being Irish and brought up in the Catholic side of the education system, I am embarrassed to say that WW1 & WW2 meant very little to me all my life. I remember watching that excellent TV series The World at War, but none of it was real to me, it was just a TV programme. Remembrance day was not discussed in school and I did not even know why presenters on BBC wore poppies!

    Moving to France finally brought home to me the tragedy of war; meeting elderly French people who lived through it and seeing the tears in their eyes as they spoke of lost family members or of the day the American soldiers arrived in their village; hearing tales of a downed bomber buried deep in the nearby woods, its location passionately guarded by locals; hearing about the exploits of the local maquis; seeing the war memorials in every village – EVERY village, no matter how small, lists the names of those who died during both wars; attending remembrance day celebrations and hearing the mayor read out the list of names of all who were ‘Mort pour la France’; finally visiting the battlefields of Normandy and seeing the acres and acres of crosses stretching away into the distance.
    I am ashamed of the Irish education system and the way in which ‘The Emergency’ was glossed over in this way. I am extremely grateful to have had these experiences so that I too now feel it is important to Never Forget.
    PS I remarked on being brought up in the Catholic side because my husband went to C of I schools and learned to observe Remembrance day as a matter of course.


    • aj vosse says:

      Yes, I’m afraid its only once in a while that the folly of the system here highlights the neglect of the fallen from these shores. Sad and a pity. The brave Irish fought with distinction in two world wars and their contribution to our freedom should be lauded, not hidden!


  3. Red Hen says:

    It`s great that you got there. I`d love to visit a war cemetery anywhere. But appreciate your photographs here for giving me a sense of what the SA memorial is like.


    • aj vosse says:

      You must visit. Not far from the SA Memorial is an Irish Memorial. I also have quite a few photos of the Harp next to the Springbok on the gravestones. Maybe I should do a post…


      • Red Hen says:

        I am aware that many of us Irish have ancestors too that would have served in the Boer war.Yes,post in the making there.


        • aj vosse says:

          Yep.. that is so. Irish served both with the Boers (my side) and the Brits… I’ve done a post a while ago about ‘Traitor’s Gate’ aka the Fusiliers Arch…


  4. Pingback: Remembering… | The Rider

  5. The Rider says:

    Haunting… I have been thinking of doing the same theme with my visit to Tyne Cot cemetery at Passchendaele as a tribute… ons is die geslag soldate wat nie mag onthou nie…


    • aj vosse says:

      A totally humbling experience walking there, yet gratifying and uplifting to think we’re a nation made of strong stuff!
      Ek sal NOOIT vergeet nie… ek is trots op die rol wat ons Lugmag gespeel het in so baile rolle… manne tussen manne!


  6. S Meaders says:

    I have no words other than. . . I love this.


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