I do will not patronize the reader! WW1- in a few months - the end of WW1, will be being remembered. An updated past work. My aim is to give some idea of WW1 - of what war is like! Survivor thinking, remembering on top of Ramsgate East Cliff.


A survivor thinking - from the cliff top of Ramsgate. Towards France - at the French cliffs that could be clearly seen. Remembering - reflecting back on what he'd gone through. So he uses words that he would not say in mixed company!

In September 1914 I were but 18

Too say I were wet behind the ears

Is an understatement!

My ears were soon to dry

I - no more than a callow youth

Back then - when the war began

Hardly weighed more than bag of spuds!

Thin as a rake

When THE WAR started

Me mates me and all

Thought War was a big adventure

I'd read that bloke Kipling at my school - Lillian Road

That bloke know what he was on about - didn't he?

Me chums and me got caught up in it , THE WAR and

All that went with it patriotism the King and what not

On each corner could be seen groups of men all talking of - THE WAR

The news papers ; said THE WAR would be over by Christmas!

That we should Volunteer to fight for God - King and the Empire

Well don't know about any God , never met the King

The Empire - well just a load of bloody foreigners - it were our bleeding empire!

Well never been anywhere foreign , went to London once

Worked on fishing boat didn't I , that aint relly go foreign is it!

From the Ramsgate cliffs - on a clear day you could see - France!

Well I got to thinking well France now that's proper foreign!

And well THE WAR would be over before I got sent to it!

Wouldn't it - the news paper said so - didant they!

So I volunteered with some chums from school

Met some lads from St Gorges C of E school

We chummed up - did our basic training together

Went by train to Folkestone then off to France!

Well then sent off - TO THE WAR - too the front!

We went off to have our adventure!

Some bleeding adventurer!

It were but a fight to survive day to day!

Some times to survive one hour to the next!

They'd ask me what it was like well they'd never believe me!

How could I explane going over the top , blokes ether side of

Being mown down , in their hundreds , their thousands!

The screams , in silence - men fell down in heaps!

The sound of your mate crying out '' get me in - save me! ''

The blood all that blood parts- the stench of rotten flesh - of what once been

Me chums - laying - dead - out there - in No Mans Land!

Of your mates laying out in no mans land you hear him , but what

Can I do , cry silently , bight in to my hand - till it bleeds!

In time - I barely gave a bleeding shrug!

How I wonted to scream at him '' die , you bastard leave me be! ''

And at times I did just that! - Under me breath!

Till he and the rest gradually fall silent in dead mans land!

How can they understand I had walked away from the battles - with out a


Just lucky me!

Bullets hitting those all around you , missing you as if you were invisible!

Some how you don't know how or why I laid out , till the night hid me

In some kind cloak of invisibility!

Then you crawled back like a worm over the dead and dieing a mate saw you

He were hit in the belly , blood oozed from his opened guts the stench of his shit

That from his open bowls stank!

How he begged me to carry him back , or -

'' shoot me mate don't leave hear to die slowly '' I'm begging you! ''

Or how do you explain about the rats as big as cats, no bigger than cats!

The lice oh those fooking things burning out of the linings of your semes

Trousers and jacket

With candles!

How they went POP in the flame of the candle!

Oh the flys - the bleeding - fooking flys - landing in the jam - eating the flys

As you eat the jam!

Later squatting over open latrines - shiting - like walter - running out of my


As some did at Gallipoli - The Dardanelles!

How do tell them asking - what it were like - how men so weak from the shits

Topple over to drown in their own - shit! - AND IN YOURS!

No paper - even run out of The Daily Mail - or as we called it - The Daily Lier!

Then it were leaves - IF - could find any - then fingers used

As were being stricken by a dose of - dysentery - while in - The Front Line!

How can I tell them of all of that!

Of trench foot , how your feared being sent back to the army hospitable

Worried with reason the quacks would take your foot or leg off

Now I sit on the prom looking over to France where my mates now lay

Some came back like me , not a scratch , no gas in the lungs

But I was but one , others came back less an arm or leg , some with no legs

Only the one arm , reaching with a cough coursed by the gas

I sit hear knowing no one he did not go to THAT WAR could understand

Well fook it - I DID GO , and I'm buggered if I can understand what it were

All about!

Now siting on the prom , trying not to look back - no hope of that!

Looking across to bloody France!

Knowing me chums lay there - while I sit hear - seeing the French cliffs!

Ramsgate just not the same as it were as day that - August 1914!

Ken D Williams

The Dyslexic Wordsmith

Poetry by ken d williams The PoetBay support member heart!
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Written on 2018-10-08 at 16:49

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Stan Cooper
Ken...my old war-horse...

This is one of your best, at least in my estimation...

I particularly liked,

"hat we should Volunteer to fight for God King and the Empire

Well don't know about any God , never met the King , as fore

The Empire , well a load of bloody foreigners!"

You are a bloody genius

xxxx Stan

Olusegun Akanbi

Well written, Ken.

It is extraordinary that you could have written this in the first person, internalizing the terror, horror, survivor guilt. Some of the details are so spot-on that it seems you must have been there, and have taken us there.