Tag Archives: remembrance sunday

Remember me, 1916.

I once went to visit the The Somme. It wasn’t really my intention. I got a cheap flight from Dublin to Beauvais and rather than go into Paris, (a city I’d been to on several occasions), I decided to head north.

I found myself in places like Albert, Amiens and Arras. Pretty much the front line back in 1916.

There’s a monument in Arras upon which are engraved 70,000 names of men and women who were killed. They weren’t the only ones killed there. (The total figure is around 158,000.) They were just the ones whose bodies could not be found. They had been vapourised by shelling.


Monument at Arras

Near Amiens I saw a bomb crater. Nothing unusual in that. The fact is, this crater was about 100 feet in diameter. And about 30-40 feet deep. It was on the German front line.

In Albert, I was walking down a country lane and, when I turned a corner, I was confronted by a Commonwealth cemetery. I have never seen so many white marble headstones in my life. Row upon row stretching into the distance. Many engraved with the epitaph: Here lies an unknown soldier.

Commonwealth cemetery.

It was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had.

My thoughts go out to all the people of all nations who have died in conflicts around the globe. And obviously, to their surviving ancestors. Though, I am finding it a little difficult to extend that sentiment to the Taliban at the moment.



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A poem for Remembrance Sunday

If you ever get the chance to go to Edinburgh, you should. It is one of the most beautiful cities on this planet.

Edinburgh Castle

I wrote this poem back in the late nineties on a trip to the Edinburgh Castle War Memorial.

What I was trying to get across was the magnitude of loss we have suffered.

It was first published in the Amnesty International anthology: Human Rights Have No Borders.


© David Milligan-Croft

I was reading a book
In the Edinburgh Castle War Memorial.
It was a big fat book
With lots of names in it.
There was a plaque
Above the book which read,
Mons. August, 1914.

Above the plaque
Was a banner; fading
Regimental colours that,
Even now, smelled of gun grease and blood.

Next to the flag
Was another flag. Beneath it
Was a plaque which read,
Marne. September, 1914.
And beneath that,
Was another big fat book.

I strolled around the sombre hall,
Flicking through books as big as tables.
All with foreign names on them: Ypres, Gallipoli,
Jutland, Somme, Dardenelles,
Baghdad, Arras, Flanders, Amiens…

Outside, in the cold November sun,
I lit a cigarette. I bet, I thought to myself,
That any name you could possibly think of,
Would be in one of those books.

Edinburgh Castle War Memorial

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