war poems - Sligo Poets

Go to content

Main menu:

1915 > Sligo Poetry 1915 > Sligo Independent

Sligo Independent 28 August 1915

"The Morning Post" has received, through a correspondent the following verses which are composed by a driver of the Army Service Corps now at the front. There is, as our contemporary says, "such genuine feeling in the lines, which are written with no little grace, that we have no hesitation in presenting them to our readers":

For home and fireside we fight;
     For all that’s brave and true;
For right against the foeman’s might,
     Who would not dare and do?
Is there a man of British breed
     But answers to the call?
Myself I give heart, brain, and hand,
     My country needs them all.

For wife and child we gladly march
     Against the ruthless foe,
One upwards glance to heaven’s blue arch
     To strengthen every blow.
Where is the husband, father, son,
     Who does not cry today:
"I’m ready, for the home I love,
     To fight as well as pray?"

Yet for her sake whose plighted troth
     Still echoes in the heart,
Each man has sworn a sacred oath
     To play a hero’s part.
Where is the girl between the seas
     But bids this last adieu:
"God keep you lad, you’re doubly dear,
     Because you’re doubly true!"

For King and Country, aye! for these,
     For Freedom best of all,
On alien soil, on stormy seas,
     We’ll fight, and if we fall
The hearts we love, the lips we kiss,
     Are shielded with our breast,
Better a grave in trench or wave
     Than shrink from love’s behest.

"The Morning Post" adds: — "Perhaps the most touching thing about these lines to a wife—the thing that proves how straight the verse comes from the heart—is the little postscript: ‘Dear Love—what do you think of this?’"

Sligo Independent 16 October 1915

Here the peaceful stillness of moonlight,
The calm of a night of stars,
A circle of light on the water,
But we follow the calling of Mars.

Here flourished the culture of Athens;
This isle knew the prowess of Troy,
E’en now peace reigns in the haven,
And we, we have come to destroy.

But our minds hark back to the westward,
As the sun drops out of sight,
To the small green fields, and the bog mist
That rises at fall of night.

To skies that are gray and caressing,
To Banshees and faerie lore—
We can hear the great Atlantic
As it thunders on Achill shore.

All this we have left behind us,
A prize there is to be won,
Where the dome of St. Sofia
Catches the rising sun.

The call came, and we answered—
It was in our blood to come.
We had learned to love at Busaco
The music of the drum.

Wherefore ye Grecian island
View not our coming with fear;
We fight for the cause of progress,
And already the dawn is near.

For you we open the future,
We shall leave abiding rest;
Then doffing our martial trappings,
Shall set our faces West.
Lemnos.                     O. M. T.

The poem on the left is an example of a poem written by a soldier "in the trenches" of which a great number were written and published during the war. Typically, they remember those at home but reaffirm their commitment to the cause.

The poem on the battle of Nueve Chapelle written by the Sligo soldier is example of a poem describing the bravery of soldiers in a particular engagement. Again, many of these were published in newspapers of the times and while celebrating bravery did not hide the loss of life which occured.   

The Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10–13 March 1915) was a British offensive in the Artois region of France. The British troops did break through at Neuve-Chapelle but they were unable to exploit the success.

This was the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles' first major action. After an initial  bombardment, the battalion helped to secure the village of Neuve-Chapelle. It then had to weather heavy German counter-attacks which failed to dislodge the members of the battalion but caused very heavy casualties, amounting to 18 officers and 440 other ranks, including its Colonel.

According to McGuinn's Sligo Men in the Great War, Rifleman Richard Brown, Royal Irish Rifles, a native of Sligo, died in France/Flanders on 23 October 1916. I presume this is the author of this poem.

There was also a tradition of humorous verse written by serving soldiers as in the example below. The Sligo aunt may have been Kate Conway, a native of Newry, County Down, wife of James, a tailor. There were no
Farquhars in Sligo in the 1911 census and most are in the north-east of Ireland including County Down.

The poem on the Connaught Rangers seems a little more polished than the others. The author is aware of the history of the regiment and of the areas in which they are serving. There is recognition that they are bringing war and destruction to this land but asserts that it is ultimately in the cause of peace.
St. Sofia is the Greek Orthodox Church in Istanbul.

The Connaught Rangers  was an Irish regiment of the British Army originally raised in 1793 as the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers), which gained a reputation while serving under the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War in Spain. There they took part in the battle of Busaco (Bussaco) in 1810.

             Sligo Independent 19 June 1915


The stirring story of the part played by the men of the Royal Irish Rifles is borne out in the words of the following poem composed by Rifleman R. Browne, and sent home from the front to his friends in Sligo:--

                 R.I.R’s. AT NEUVE CHAPELLE.

Come, please just pay attention and a story I will tell
Of how the gallant R.I.Rs. were first in Neuve Chapelle.
Colonel Laurie gave the order for the regiment to advance,
And when they met the Germans our boys did make them dance.

With bayonets fixed we rushed, though outnumbered five to one;
Each one did prove a hero, and many a gallant deed was done.
Our noble Colonel he was killed, our Major fell as well,
And scores of our brave officers lost their lives at Neuve Chapelle.

Our men were lost in hundreds; no regiment could do more,
And when the fight was over our officers numbered four.
Yet manfully they struggled amidst the living hell,
And out of all the British Army were the first at Neuve Chapelle.

Then here’s to the gallant R.I.R’s., those riflemen so brave,
Who nobly did their duty and found a soldier’s grave.
So may their glory ever shine, for they have proved their worth,
And laurels brought to Ireland for the honours of the North.

Sligo Independent 28 August 1915
            ONLY A JOKE

In a letter to his aunt, Mrs Conway, Victoria Line, Private S. Farquhar, encloses the following poetical effusion on his receipt of cigarettes: —

As I write the shells fall fast,
But still all thought of fear have passed;
And now I treat them as a joke,
For I have just received your smokes.
Oh, what a blessing in disguise
When I received your welcome prize,
For now I know my friends remember—
Good luck, best wishes to the sender;
For now my thoughts through smoke unravel
And to old Sligo quickly travel.

Back to content | Back to main menu