On Remembrance Day 2014 a new plaque was unveiled at Bath's Guildhall to commemorate the Centenary of the start of the First World War, in memory of those who served.
The ceremony was led by the Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council, Councillor Martin Veal, who was wearing a specially commissioned sash featuring knitted poppies made by Emma Leith and Rosie Wilkes. Crochet and knitted poppies made by Emma, Rosie and other local knitters decorated the Guildhall staircase for the occasion.
Year 6 pupils from St Stephen's Primary School read a selection of poems they had written about 'The Unknown Soldier'. Everyone present was very impressed with the sensitivity with which the children had composed their poems, and the confidence of the readings. All of the poems written by Sebastian, Annabel, Marianne, Maya, Eva, Felix, Gracie, Keira, Kora, Matilda, Olivia, Sam, Wilf and Louis can be read below.
The ceremony also included music - a recording of the song 'Do you recall, the War to end all war? ', written by Bath & North East Somerset Councillor Bryan Chalker and set to music by Tony Renney.
The commemorative plaque can be viewed on the main staircase during normal Guildhall opening hours.
His head was pounding with pride,
As the flags waved goodbye,
His heart was rapidly beating,
He was expecting to become a hero.
With eyes of tears he fought the war,
Wasting his life in devastation,
As the bugles called, his courage took over,
Clambering over a wasteland of wire,
Murky deaths surrounded him,
He thought to himself: Hell could not be this bad.
Rows upon rows of crosses,
Each dancing poppy is special,
Representing unlucky souls,
Their dream was to resurrection in peace,
And he is amongst them,
Resting in silence forever.
By Sebastian, 3rd October 2014
Lost in a sea of soldiers
Hypnotised by cheering crowds
And thoughts of medals
Ordinary people explode into heroes
THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER
Again lost in a sea of soldiers
His face as pale as a ghost
Lit up by flashes of endless shells
Which screamed in fear of the night
His eyes reflected horror
Swords glinted like diamonds
Peering over the wall of hell
This hero fell
Silence fell with snow
He lay still as his soul watched from above
Sleeping with peaceful poppies
This hero now rests
His life for his country
A country for his life
Happy soldiers marched out to their deaths
A young, smiling face, with no idea of his fate
The smell of death was in the air
As he fought to stay alive
His feet drenched in muddy water
Riderless horses galloped through the wasteland
Reflected in his tearful eyes
Waiting, just waiting for the order to go
A sudden pain through a broken heart
He felt the world go blank around him
He was gone before he hit the snow
Which lay peacefully, covering the horror beneath
A field of poppies on a warm summer night
The home of countless lost heroes
And as the bugle sounded
One poppy remembers
And sways in the breeze
From a boy to a man
He stood tall and proud
The flags waved him off with a cheer
To the tunnels of hell
That can only lead to death
Orders were barked
Replies came from trembling lips
The ladder waited in horror
Into no man’s land he went
Which stood like a wasteland
The mud swallowed his feet
Effortlessly, he fell
Christmas day unfolded
Gentle snow fell like fragments of peace
This day was for mankind… for love
He was not there
Hymns are sung now
Poppies fall in silence
He listens to the song of life
His memory still hears the cries of the guns
He stands taller and glows with pride
He is to us ‘The Unknown Soldier’
Let us remember him
Ink, like blood, scratched the paper
As he signed up for death.
Fear ripped at his heart,
As flags waved a sad farewell.
Once loved, now unfamiliar with the word,
Shells cascaded like a waterfall of hatred
Bayonets pierced unwilling hearts.
The dead littered like rubbish
He returned with no voice, the story locked inside forever
A war that seemed never ending
Is now marked by poppy petals descending.
Union Jacks wave farewell.
He holds his high
And heads off to France.
Dreaming of being a hero.
Shells violently scream at him.
Guns spit bullets at him.
Ladders wait at their feet.
He waits for the order.
Bayonet fixed, he used
The blade on boys whose
Faces were just as scared.
Fear drove him on to his death.
As each body fell, a poppy grew.
One stands out.
It belongs to ‘the unknown soldier’
Images of crisp uniform, smiling and presents
He thought he would be a hero
One lie changed many
An unknown darkness waited
Every corner, a dead end
Every ladder, a death wilderness
The ominous symphony of bagpipes
Lost among the battle cries of war
Tunnels of death filled with defeat
Mud and cold devouring souls
Endless shrieking shells
Guns wailing for more bullets
Barbed wire reflecting horror in unknown eyes,
Eyes were pure danger, burning danger
Silent flakes of death came,
A blanket of white over desolation
One lone soldier rises from silence.
Nobody doubted his lie,
It gave him joy and pride
A smile crept from his lips
As all he had known
Waved him goodbye
Eyes that were once full of laughter
Now dull and mournful
The pounding fear in his heart
Reflected the shells, which rained.
He sat bent in fear
In the tunnels of death.
To climb Jacobs ladder
Leading to heaven and hell.
The orders rang out
He dived over the top
One single bullet, among the thousands
Found its target
And… the Unknown Soldier fell.
Still no silence, never silence
But a hundred years on
His poppy floats down, again and again
Now in silence.
I lied …
So willing to join,
For smart uniforms and glistening swords.
We left confident and proud,
Our heads held high,
With thoughts of returning as heroes.
Ladders to hell stood before me,
Waiting for orders …
I was white with fear.
As I quietly fell the noise faded,
My soul left me, alone.
In a grave I lie,
Surrounded by friends.
The rows of white crosses,
Only some with names.
I’m peaceful now as the poppies dance,
For the proud soldiers who lay under them.
The pen in his hand, waiting to sign up.
The sun glowed on smart uniforms and
His badge gleamed with pride.
The Union Jack waved him goodbye.
He dreamed of returning a hero,
He was ready
The glow worms shone like a thousand stars, lighting the terror of the trenches.
Tortured eyes stared at the ladders.
He ran screaming to hide his fear
Bitten by barbed wire.
The guns spat out their bullets.
It only took one.
Eyes now blank, only seeing darkness.
His ears no longer heard the screaming shells.
The silent snow fell over a lifeless hero.
Petals now fall to remember him,
And lost souls left among dancing poppies, across the sea.
Proud cheers for the new born heroes
Their faces lit with pride.
Flags and family waved farewell
And joyful bands filled the sky.
The doors of horror opened
To reveal the ‘proper’ war.
The ongoing screams of shells
He could find no voice to match them
Teeth clenched he made the run
But never made it home.
His friends who followed never caught up.
Life crumbled through his trembling fingers
Black sorrow curled around him
His last sunset disappeared
He lay lifeless.
Endless rows of crosses now
Silhouettes on a French horizon.
One single poppy still dances
To remember him.
Bellowing bands played to the marching feet
He looked so proud in his uniform
His happy beam reassured everyone
The sun bounced off his badges so proud…too proud
Shell fire illuminated the misty night
Blood like ink splattered the body littered ground
Bullets rained down like hail and the billowing smoke blotted out the moon
The barbed wire raked out the souls of fallen heroes
Their open glassy eyes stared out into the open as if wondering what their graves would look like
Haunted thoughts of lost minds floated around aimlessly
Death hung in the air
The soft snow fluttered lightly to rest fallen men
He was at hell’s mercy
There was no way back
He screamed in defiance but not for long
The enemy silenced him
He sleeps now with his friends
Greeted with a new life
Free among the poppies.
His badge glistened in the bright, morning sun
Reflecting proud and jolly hearted men
He went from nought, then without a doubt
He became a saviour of England!
Threw away his life, for a lie,
Threw away his life, for a dare.
His badge, shone again
Reflecting the flash from a shell
Humanity was lost; replaced by guns and bayonets.
Home now a distant memory.
A fragment of his imagination.
Rats moved, faintly visible by the light of a lone lamp,
Dread of no-mans-land terrorised dreams by night.
As the bagpipes played they sung out death,
The world turned to hell, the ladder was the path.
Petrified, he raised his head
Up and over, running past fallen souls
Was he to join them?
He fell, he could not rise
He glanced down at his leg,
Someone tried to help
But the enemy had not a flaw,
His last sight, a machine gun spitting bullets.
If only he’d known:
So many men make an army,
So many poppies make a field.
The sun smiled in a crystal blue sky
As he marched off to France a hero
He knew nothing!
Horror struck as cruelly as the bullets
The bellowed orders
His foot on the rung
Up and over he went
And looked out into hell
He fell and never moved again
And from him a poppy was born
When the petals fall in silence
One of them falls for me