Remembrance Day: Recorder readers pick their favourite war poems and songs

Remembrance Day poppies

Remembrance Day poppies - Credit: Archant

From laments of lost youth, to hope that peace will prevail, poems and songs which were borne out of war are under scrutiny by Recorder readers, who are picking their favourites ahead of Remembrance Day.


Poppies - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

John Coombes, chairman of the Barkingside Royal British Legion, said: “Any of Wilfred Owen’s poems and In Flanders Fields, because it is poignant and will means something to anyone affected by the war.

“It sums up what it felt like.”

In Flanders Fields, written by Canadian lieutenant and physician John McCrae, is the haunting poem which inspired the use of the poppy as a remembrance symbol.

Lee Scott, MP for Ilford North, chose The White Cliffs of Dover by Vera Lynn, who was the “forces’ sweetheart” during the Second World War.

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He said: “I just think it is a song that gives hope, by saying that there will be peace again and I think in any time of war that is important.

“I actually met Vera Lynn, she came to a dance in Hainault probably eight years ago. She’s amazing.”

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Cllr Wes Streeting, the Labour group’s deputy leader, picked the poem Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen.

He said: “I think it captures the spirit and sense of the great damage and huge loss that resulted from the First World War, in particular the young people who lost their lives on the battlefield.”

Cllr Keith Prince, the council’s leader, vouched for the same poem, which describes the futility and brutality of the war through lines such as, “What passing bells for these who die as cattle? Only the monstrous anger of the guns”.

Cllr Prince’s song choice was the marching tune Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile, by George Powell.

He said: “It is my favourite because we can visualise the soldiers getting ready to go off to war. Of course, when they arrived they realised it wasn’t as glorious as they thought.”

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