Accompanying the illustrated itinerary was a page of verse on various subjects related to the pilgrimage and the war, we reproduce it here with due acknowledgement to the unknown authors:
“My Sergeant” – Once more I stood by his resting place. No useless coffin enclosed his breast. Twenty-two years has passed since that day I watched the purple flowers gather upon his brow behind the monastery wall – a victim of a sniper’s bullet. Near by were the graves of monks – become indistinguishable by the debris of war. He, too, had served his day and generation. At Bisley camp, in peace and in war, we had been together. The parting came a week after a younger brother had paid the Great Price. Both were in the same Company – both were now with that Immortal Band – the Deathless Army. His youngest brother rests on Dogger Bank. The low lying fields of Flanders were quiet. No flash disturbed the peace of Aubers Ridge. Again I bade him “Farewell” and prayed that his parents were comforted – for he was only twenty-two.
Blow out, you bugles, over the rich dead! There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold. These laid the world away; poured out the red Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene That men call age; and those who would have been, Their sons they gave, their immortality.
The Setting Sun – We stood in silence in the twilight. Before us, some twelve thousand of the Fallen; behind – the names of thousands more to whom the fortunes of war denied an honoured burial. The travail of Passchendaele had passed. Peace brooded over all. In the dim light we could trace “a road that follows the way of unforgotten feet”. The Cross of Sacrifice was silhouetted against the western sky where shafts of glory from a setting sun radiated to a lone star.
And not by eastern windows only, When daylight comes, comes in the light; In front the sun climbs slow – how slowly! But westward, look! the land is bright!
A Silent City – No road nor habitation near, we followed the track that crested a rounded hill, for Artois is a country of rolling downland. A keen wind swept the solitary countryside. Sheltered by a low wall, surrounded by others whose fate he shared, we found the grave of one we knew. Years ago he sat with some of us at school. At last he left his village. Three hundred miles away – across sea and land – he is remembered still. We paid a reverent tribute, then left him alone in his glory.
Of twenty years of age he was I guess, And he had been some time in chivalry In Flanders, in Artois and in Picardy.
The Menin Gate – The Last Post has sounded. The Soldiers’ Day had closed. We stood at the entrance to the Salient, arched over by massive stone which bore the names of those who passed this way, did not return, and were lost to the sight of men. At our side, in silence too, were those who had fought for their Fatherland, and they also, paid their tribute, as we had done. As is the custom, no wheel turned or person passed. The ramparts nearby were silvered by the moon, the moat was as a mirror. We thought of the Great Reveille, when nations shall be no more, and Peace shall reign supreme.
Dover – England – the isle girt by the silver sea. What price has been paid for her inviolate freedom! Shall we, now left, forget our debt! Our help is needed still to build the New Jerusalem, to prevent the Sacrifice having been in vain.
Though all we made depart, The old commandments stand; In patience keep your heart, In strength lift up your hand.