In September 1944 during Operation Market Garden and the battle of Arnhem, Pte Colin Fowler wrote a suite of poems whilst serving with 1st Battalion Border Regiment. Here’s one of his poems.


Taking Stock

An eerie day the Twenty-Fifth,
Our guns from across the Rhine
Were falling short among our friends
And adding to our plight.

We could not see the ring of tanks
Beyond the woods of course,
But someone was directing fire
And cutting it quite close.

A rumour now was spreading round
Somehow we got the name
John Bull’ they said, remember that,
We thought it was a game.


That night it rained and black as pitch
It covered all the sounds
Of Airnborne troops, all moving back
Put of the battle grounds.
We carried on without regard
And tried to find a smoke;
Later on that evening though
The few that still remained
Just crossed the road into the house
To shelter from the rain.

We checked our kit and found that we
Had used all our rations.
We fired all our Three O Threes
In that nine days of passion.
But now the truth was sinking in
To all our tired brains,
Our trenches just across and the road
Had filled up with the rains,
So flinging bolts from rifles,

As far as we could throw,
We realized our was done
And that we’d have to go
The seven men who walked about
Were cold and very weak,
We joined the wounded laid about
And gladly went to sleep

Spasmodic fired ripped through the house
From Germans who we’d seen
Had occupied the trenches,
Where these Airborne troops had been.

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