World War I Photo Gallery & Poetry
(all photographs taken by John Stephens)


Vimy Ridge



In Flanders' Fields

                             by John McCrae



In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Dulce Et Decorum Est
By Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, cough like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Til on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod.  All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!--
An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie:
Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


In Flanders' Fields Now
By Edna Jaques, 1918 

An interesting reply to John McCrae's  "In Flanders' Fields" by Saskatchewan's Edna Jaques.
Unfortunately, her optimism was unmatched by the folly of future generations.

We have kept the faith, ye Flanders' dead
Sleep well beneath those poppies red
That mark your place.
The torch your dying hands did throw
We've held it high before the foe
And answered bitter blow for blow
In Flanders' fields.

And where your heroes' blood was spilled
The guns are now forever stilled
And silent grown.
There is no moaning of the slain
There is no cry of tortured pain
And blood will never flow gain
In Flanders' fields.

Forever holy in our sight
Shall be those crosses gleaming white
That guard your sleep
Rest you in peace, the task is done
The fight you left us we have won
And peace on Earth has just begun
In Flanders' fields now.





For the Fallen
Laurence Binyon, (September, 1914)

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is a music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncountered:
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall  grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain.



What Good Have We Done

 Patrick Stephens, December, 2002

A whistle blows and we run over the top

The bombs come down and many men drop

We attack them and they attack us

100 men die and we ask, “Is this just?”

Day after day, night after night

What good do we serve by continuing to fight?

A runner comes in, a message is received

Thank the lord! We’re finally relieved.

As we sit in the rear lines trying to have fun

We receive the news - the lines have been overrun.

The thought hits our minds, while we got to shower

Our brand new reserves saw their final hour.

The message is heard the Germans used gas

And our poor helpless friends didn’t even have masks

Just as we thought that the Germans would come

We heard the news that our lines weren’t overrun,

When the others had fled and thought they’d soon be divine.

Our courageous Canucks, held strong our line,

While we are resting many men write to their wives and sons

And that is when I asked myself, “What good have we done?”




photographed by John Stephens

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Private Leo Kelly's Letter from Vimy Ridge (page 3)


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Last updated - November 2017