Flanders – one hundred years ago
Slaughter on a massive scale
Bogged down in mud, morale was low
The Great War left a poignant trail.
In muddy trenches traumatized
Horror, noise and death too near
A few days' respite was much prized:
A deep sleep and a taste of beer!
In Poperinge, outside Ypres
Beyond the reach of German gun
Soldiers could relax and meet
Old comrades, chill out and have fun.
Soon as “Little Paris” known
Munitions centre, army Corps
Here booze was drunk, wild oats were sown
But neither crossed Toc H's door!
The Army rented “Talbot House”
Named for a soldier dead too soon
Good humour reigned – one could not grouse
Hot tea at all times was a boon.
A sleeping place for many men
In the hop barn at the back
Writing paper and a pen
Time to smoke, sing or just chat.
A chapel up the creaky stairs
Where men could go and meditate
Here Tubby Clayton offered prayers;
In wartime fear does not abate.
Newspapers – scarce on the front line -
Found ready readers; men would leave
Short messages which they would sign
For friend or brother to retrieve.
A common sharing, ranks outside
This “home from home” left memories deep
Post war the brewer stepped aside
Now tourists find a place to sleep.
(c) Poet in the woods 2015