‘Arnhem’ by Ray Vickers


They left the plough, the shop, the office stool
To fight a cause, to wield a lethal tool:
They left their homes and all that they held dear,
To face a grim unknown with little fear.

Ah those men! Those hallowed men – that faced a foe,
Who strained to crush them dealing blow on blow
With shot, with shell, with belching tank with flame,
They faced it all – to win a deathless name.

‘Men of Arnhem’ Freedom doth proclaim you
As her immortal sons – her precious few:
Your mem’ry e’er will live for you have shown
The way for this sad world to reach her own.

I know little about this poem, except that it was written by Ray Vickers and comes from a booklet of his poetry entitled Wood Chippings, published in 1945 by the publishers Cornish Brothers Ltd of Birmingham.

Wood Chippings by Ray Vickers

Wood Chippings by Ray Vickers

Such details are recorded at, and a copy of the booklet held in, the British Library.

At present I can find no other information about the poet or his work – from other poems in the booklet I would guess that he came from, or at least resided in, the Northamptonshire area. Can anyone offer any further information?

I am including the poem here because I believe it does offer some insight into the prevailing spirit of the times and a contemporary response to the defeat at Arnhem.