Friday, 11 November 2016

My personal contribution to Remembrance Day:

Edward Wells (1897 -1917)
My uncle's first name has become my second.
It shares the fate of many middle names -
half a dozen boxes of identity,
never used except for routine forms.

He was my father's hero, elder brother,
leading, laughing, bold, a shooter's eye.
'Give Ted two stones, he'd knock a robin's egg
right off that five-bar gate across the road.'
He volunteered as sniper in the War,
Exposed and isolated, drawing fire,
Never laughing now but leading still,
And at the last – a German sniper's kill.

They buried him at Arras. Soldiers home
told young Johnny how his brother fell.
At fourteen years, he held his grief within,
until the telegram of death arrived.

I'm holding Edward's prayer-book, sprayed with blood.
Inside, his simple, pencil-written will,
neatly signed as “Private Edward Wells” -
my boxes of identity come home.        
Donald Edward Wells            

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