The Ypres Trail

Written by my great uncle, Horace Boddington Gibbs, who died in World War One on September 27, 1916, aged just 32

 

And many have marched the Ypres trail

And many have marched and stayed

But the silent sentinels* sternly stand

And tell no tale of the hero band

Who have marched it undismayed.

 

And many have marched the Ypres trail

Through the winter’s rain and snow

When the grey mud splashed as they ploughed along

And the pave murmured a muffled song

To the measured beat and slow.

 

And many have marched the Ypres trail

When the birds sang sweet o’erhead

When the fields were wild with the joy of spring

And the columns rolled with a lighter swing

For the winter’s gloom was shed.

 

And many shall march the Ypres trail

And many shall see the sign

Of the shattered homestead, gaping bare,

Of the splintered giant’s grim despair

As it fell from its ancient line.

 

And many shall march the Ypres trail

With the ghosts of the thousands slain

But their deeds of worth will never die

And the trail will echo as they pass by

That their dying was not in vain.

 

And many have marched the Ypres trail

And many have marched and stayed

But the silent sentinels* sternly stand

And tell no tale of the hero band

Who have marched it undismayed.

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*The silent sentinels are the tall, stiff, regularly-spaced trees, which fringed each side of the Belgian main roads.

 

H.B.G – Somewhere in France, August 28, 1916