Poetry

Wootton Bassett

By 18th September 2009December 9th, 2019No Comments

For many years in Wiltshire
A Military heritage lies
Training establishments for troops galore
RAF sites for the lads from the skies
But the past is dwarfed by the present
Where Brize Norton was top priority
Now RAF Lyneham is the destination
For the planes to land with solemnity
For it is here they return with the Coffins
Of fallen comrades and victims of war
As they land to the sound of a lone Bugler
How long will the Aircrews have this chore
With the Standards lowered as into the hearse
These proud warriors are placed with great care
And are covered with the Union Flag of Great Britain
Witnessed by so many Families gathered on the Tarmac there
Now the cortege moves off on it’s final journey
To bring these young Hero’s home once more
To say goodbye to their friends and Families
For they perished on some far away foreign shore
And now as they approach Wootton Bassett
There is heard the sound of St.Bartholomew’s Church Bell
Which alerts all the Town’s population
Of the sombre occasion they now know so well
The crowds line the streets standing shoulder to shoulder
An as one all local business daily work stops
Some adults stand with children and Clerks leave their desks
And shopkeepers temporarily close their shops
Pensioners too are there in abundance
Many of them have seen Military life too
And always in attendance The Royal British Legion
To honour victims of combat passing through
All this in perfect silence to see the cortege pass
With heads bowed in this moment of reverence
Even from the lads from the pub have forsaken their glass
As the vehicles approach the Memorial the Legion order is given
For ex-Service Members and those Serving to salute
And 60 seconds later ”down” is the order
To these comrades they’ve paid their last tribute
By some folk it is thought that Wootton Bassett compares to Arlington
With no rigmarole nor flowers or fuss
And you might have heard someone in the crowd mutter
There but for the Grace of God it could be one of us
And as the cortege makes it’s way and disappears in the distance
Once more Wootton Bassett goes about it’s business once again
Having reflected the thoughts of the Nation, in Remembrance
Their dedication and resolution will remain
The Mayor has said that this is a Town that shows it’s respect
And we honour the return of the fallen as only we can
Perhaps in the hope that in the very near future
The end of these conflicts will be the plan
And one young lad had said with a tear in his eye
Of the sad occasion that he had witnessed here on this day
That Soldier who died was only 4 years older than me
And that sentiment many others would display
The tradition of the Town they say may have started years ago
When an Army Cadet on a paper mache’ Senotaph laid
A Wreath , and started a competition for something more permanent
And with £30,000 a new Memorial in Bronze was built within a decade
On these occasions there are rules for the British Legion
No Standards are flown but Berets may be worn on the head
Medals and Decorations are discretely out of sight
As to attention they stand and look straight ahead
Someone has suggested “ An Avenue of Heroes”
But rejected by the local population
Without change what we do is as a mark of respect
To Victims of Combat on behalf of the Nation
In 2 years from now RAF Lyneham is to close
And these scenes Wootton Bassett may witness no more
The once more RAF Brize Norton will be the destination
For troops returning from a foreign shore
But long before that time there is a fervent hope
That these sad repatriations will cease
With the cessation of Military involvement
And perhaps an everlasting Peace
As a Nation we owe our thanks to Wootton Bassett
And may they get the recognition they’ve truly earned
For in War there are never any winners
Nor seldom knowledge gained or lessons learned

Dennis Shrubshall

Author Dennis Shrubshall

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