fredrick-forsyth

Fredrick Forysth

Years ago, making a TV documentary, I went with a film crew to the
>> killing fields of Flanders to see the places where the young male
>> generation of much of the Western world gave their lives in World War
>> One. The images still scar the memory.
>>
>> We saw Thiepval, Tyne Cot, the Menin Gate. We stood in silence, too
>> overcome to film, and stared at the fields of small white markers
>> where those boys lay, rank on rank, row on row, and the words of the
>> dying Scott of the Antarctic flashed before me. ‘My God, this is an
>> awful place.’
>>
>> At the amphitheatre of Tyne Cot we gazed at the walls where the names
>> of tens of thousands who died nearby are etched, and the even more
>> inscriptions ‘Known only to God’ tell of young men never even
>> identified; blown to pieces, drowned in mud.
>>
>> There is a field no more than a football pitch where the entire young
>> manhood of Newfoundland died in a single morning. They came out of
>> their trenches and tried to charge the hundred yards through knee-deep
>> mud into machine-gun fire. Not a dozen made it to the enemy trenches
>> and even they died trying to return. They came from their Canadian
>> homes to give their lives for King and Country. It is a place where no
>> birds sing, nor have for a hundred years.
>>
>> This year we commemorate the biggest slaughter of them all. The first
>> day of the Battle of the Somme. Sixty thousand young men dead or
>> maimed before midday, and before it ended in November 1916 a million
>> gone, all nationalities.
>>
>> To honour them I wrote a poem, Fallen Soldier, now put to music and
>> sung by operatic soprano Melissa. Here it is.