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El Alamein - poem

History - EY History

El Alamein

There are flowers now, they say, at Alamein;

Yes, flowers in the minefields now.

So those that come to view that vacant scene,

Where death remains and agony has been

Will find the lilies grow –

Flowers, and nothing that we know.


So they rang the bells for us and Alamein,

Bells which we could not hear.

And to those that heard the bells what could it mean,

The name of loss and pride, El Alamein?

- Not the murk and harm of war.

But their hope, their own warm prayer.


It will become a staid historic name,

That crazy sea of sand!

Like Troy or Agincourt its single fame

Will be the garland for our brow, our claim,

On us a fleck of glory to the end;

And there our dead will keep their holy ground.


But this is not the place that we recall,

The crowded desert crossed with foaming tracks,

The one blotched building, lacking half a wall,

The grey-faced men, sand-powdered over all;

The tanks, the guns, the trucks,

The black, dark-smoking wrecks.


So be it; none but us has known that land;

El Alamein will still be only ours

And those ten days of chaos in the sand.

Others will come who cannot understand,

Will halt beside the rusty minefield wires

and find there, flowers.


Captain John Jarmain

51st Highland Division

Extract EYA Journal 2002

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