My grandmother s older brother Joseph ‘Joey’ Allwood is listed on your roll of honour.
I always recall my gran talking about him and, this year, I went with the Herts Regiment to St Julian where Joey died, missing in action. We unveiled a memorial and I saw his name on the Menin Gate. We visited on 31/07/2017, exactly 100 years to the day that he and most of the Herts boys died. I was so moved that, whilst there (and having read the famous Flanders poem) I wrote one of my own.
To my children upon my return from the centenary of WW1 at Ypres 2017
In Flanders field where poppies blew a century has passed
Retirement now, a family vow has found me here at last
Your great gran loved her brother Joe with little sister’s pride
His sepia photograph she’d show, fiancée by his side
A child, it seemed, in uniform,naive and unaware
A look of you, son, I would say, the same curl to his hair
In Flanders clouds roll endlessly, past grave on granite grave
By fields, now corn, I stand and mourn, the bold, the scared, the brave
I walk in Joey s footsteps, uncover his sad story
‘Missing in the action ‘. No grave, no fabled glory
I read the Flanders poem. I see the Menin Gate
Their names, with his, ascend the sky. The heavens know their fate
Great Grandma knew that poem too, she said; The war was won,
Because that torch once thrown ‘from failing hands’ burned on and on
She asked should we extinguish it, let fully it burn out?
Or let a subtle glow remind; A whisper, not a shout
Of all they lost, she said, of many hopes and dreams denied.
No, Let the torch move through the years, let’s pass it on with pride
It’s symbolism now, not war but memory and warning
Of boys like Joe who didn’t know another new day dawning
And so she passed that torch to me, for years I’ve held it tight
A legacy of loss and grief; futility of fight
So never let it burn again. Never give it cause
From Joe to Gran, to me, to you. From his hands into yours
And now that you have children too, the message on must go
Let corn grow high, let no men die. Just leave the poppies grow