Missing Presumed Dead – a Poem written on D-Day

This moving poem was written by Dennis Hawes, of the 1st Battalion on 6th June 1944 and added to on 6th June 1984.

 

Missing presumed dead

 

I searched for you my friend,

The morning after the invasion,

As I listed the dead and wounded

Of our depleted battalion, for the adjutant.

Searching in first aid stations, bunkers,

Field ambulances, makeshift mortuaries,

Temporary graves, but you were not there.

 

Then I could not search the sea

Which entombed so many beneath its choppy swell

And only with capricious arrogance,

Deigned to deposit back some sodden, waxen corpses,

Among the detritus of the wreck littered shoreline.

 

We faced the dawn of D-Day together

For after all it was our third seaborne assault

Wakeful as the steely light, broke over the slate coloured sea,

Picking out the straining shapes of the vast invasion fleet

Moving relentlessly towards the flaming shoreline.

Orange, black belching tongues of the battleships,

Awesome sight and sound of the drenching rocket ships,

Tanks blasting from the bellies of their flat craft.

All drawn inexorably to the fiery vortex of the beaches

Overhead aircraft weaved, criss cross in ceaseless motion.

 

Then we climbed about our tank to storm ashore,

But the Churchill only trundled forward a few yards,

Before being drowned by the incoming tide,

Swept over by the cold and greedy waves,

Dashing and foaming over the slippery hull,

Clawing and clutching at its overladen victims,

Now clinging fearfully with a tenuous hold.

 

In range shells hit out parent craft,

Fountained the water, as it drew back.

My friend I did not see you go,

As I went into the icy waves,

Nor think of you in my frenzied swimming

And the dangers before my final beaching.

In my panic to survive the sea,

The call of friendship went unheeded.

 

Then on the beach, all thoughts were lost,

In the savage whine of bullets,

The whistle and thud of mortars and shells.

Sights of incoming craft shattered on stakes and mines,

Ships nearing the short, exploding with direct hits,

The mutilated, eyeless, shocked and dying,

The dramatic and pathetic dead.

 

I finally got back to the battalion,

Was reprimanded to taking so long to reach them,

But the MO calmed down, when I said,

I believed you were all lost.

 

No 40 years later, I stand in the Bayeux cemetery,

Close to where we marched, the day after the invasion

Now listening to the poignancy of the last post

And after searching for you, in the beach head cemeteries,

But of course you were not there.

Only a name among those missing presumed dead.

 

As the last notes of the bugle died away,

I tried to comfort myself, you were spared,

The horrors of the bridgehead battles,

Or later, life’s inevitable disappointments.

In vain, I stand tearful as the sound fades.

So, I went to Bayeux Cathedral, with a French family,

Lit a candle for you and the mothers of the fallen,

On their suggestion

And felt at last, I had found some part of you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Museum has been awarded Accreditation again

We are very pleased to announce that the Museum has been re-awarded its Accreditation again for the period 2018-2023.

Becoming an Accredited Museum is a splendid achievement as it proves that all our processes and practices are correct, that we are caring for the collections, our staff and visitors well. This is a fairly long process and has involved considerable work from the Curator to obtain.

The official definition of the purpose of Accreditation is as follows:

We want all museums to be sustainable, focused and trusted organisations, which offer their visitors a great experience. The Accreditation Scheme sets out nationally-agreed standards, which inspire the confidence of the public and funding and governing bodies. It enables museums to assess their current performance, as well as supporting them to plan and develop their services.

We were awarded our official certificate at the regional conference in March 2019 – here is the Deputy Curator accepting the award from Maria Ragan on the left, who is the Director of St. Barbe’s Museum and on the Accreditation Committee, and Maggie Appleton on the right, the President of the Museums Association and Director of the RAF Museum. (Photo by Chris Beer at allthingsdigital.uk)

Memorial Garden Roses – A Huge Thank You

Our Memorial Garden project to replace the diseased roses and re-turf the lawns is now complete, and we are thrilled to announce that due to the generous donations we received from Regimental Friends and Family, as well as a bequest and some grants, we have managed to raise not only the full amount needed, but also enough for maintenance for the next 3 years.

We are so grateful to everyone who kindly contributed, the sponsorship board for the roses is currently in production and this will be mounted inside the museum shortly.

 

The Museum will be on television tonight – 22nd January 2019

We have just been informed that the Regimental Museum is featured on tonight’s South Today programme (on BBC1 after the Six O’Clock News)  between 6.30 and 7pm. We are sharing some hidden stories from regimental history, so please tune in to see us.

Merry Christmas Everyone

While searching through the archives, we found this touching Christmas Card from 1915. The message shows that for the deployed soldiers, away from their families at Christmas, thoughts were still with home.

 

 

Merry Christmas Everyone, Tigers Old and New, and Best Wishes for 2019, from all the museum team.

Christmas is on its way…

Take a look at our Christmas Stocking best sellers…there’s something for every Tiger in your life.

And don’t forget your Regimental HQ Christmas cards too.

Rose Appeal- Memorial Garden at Serle’s House

Sponsor a Rose for our Memorial Garden.

At the front of the museum in Serle’s House is the Memorial Garden, laid out in 1952 to commemorate those men of the Regiment who lost their lives in World Wars One and Two. More recently, anybody who served in the Regiment may have their ashes scattered amongst the roses if they wish.

 

As recent visitors to the Museum and Memorial Garden will have noticed, garden works are underway. Those more eagle-eyed visitors will have noticed that for the past few summers, there have been less and less roses blooming in the garden, and this summer one of the beds only had 3 flowering plants left. This was due to a severe case of black-spot on the plants.

The museum has therefore begun work on the Memorial Garden – as you can see from the photo below, but we need your help.

 

We are replacing all of the old roses with new ones, and also have had the lawns replaced; although they looked lovely and lush and green, a closer look would have shown they were infact mostly moss and weeds rather than grass. In order to keep the Memorial Garden looking as fantastic as it should to honour the men of the Royal Hampshire Regiment, we needed to do the work sooner rather than later.

We have been extremely lucky to receive some funding to cover this project, but would like to invite anyone who may wish to do so, to sponsor a rose for £10. This can be in your name, or in the name of a loved one. All donor’s names will be displayed in the museum on completion of the project.

If you would like to sponsor a rose, the link is here:  Sponsor a Rose for the Memorial Garden

Black Friday Deals in the shop!

The museum shop has some great Black Friday Deals for a limited time, so have a look and start your Christmas shopping early this year, while helping to preserve the museum.

Commemoration and Remembrance 100 years on

We are celebrating the lives and sacrifices made by the men who served in the Hampshire Regiment during World War one, and their families and friends, who were equally as touched by the war as those serving. The ones left behind came to wave them off, tried to keep up morale with cheery news from home and by sending parcels of treats,  and campaigned ceaslessly for better conditions, medical care, support for injured soldiers, and then for memorials once peace had been declared.

We remember, and give grateful thanks for all of these thousands and thousands of men, women and children affected by the war. Over 1 million memorial plaques were issued by the Goverment for those British, Empire and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives. Over 1 million lives cut short, and many many more than 1 million affected by the loss of fathers, sons, uncles and friends in some of the most inhospitable fighting conditions ever seen. Men and horses simply drowned; in mud on the Western front, during beach landings and river crossings in the Dardanelles, and on transport and hospital ships all around the seas. Others were shot, gassed, shelled and mined, while thousands more died from diseases such as malaria, dysentry, and small pox.

In this year, 100 years since the Armistice of 11th November 1918 when the guns fell silent, it is more important than ever to remember their lives, and all those who lost their lives in later years, and other wars.  They were mostly men, mostly young, and mostly not professional soldiers. They either answered the call and volunteered or were forced into it through conscription. They felt they had no choice but to fight for freedom and what they thought was fair and just. These men were just ordinary men, with hopes, dreams, lives and loves. They lived through unimaginable horrors and deprivations, and many thousands more were scarred survivors.

As Britain becomes covered in a wave of poppies, we remember them. As the names on memorials throughout the land are read, and we fall silent to the bugle’s notes, we remember them.  And with each new year, and generation of children, we teach them the same message, of thanks and praise. They died for our freedoms. We shall never forget.

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 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 uncounted,
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 of 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 that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

For the Fallen, by Robert Laurence Binyon. 1914.

12th November 1918

Tuesday 12th November 1918. ZINJAN.

Germany surrendered at 11am yesterday!

How they must be ringing the bells at home and Poidebart says – in Paris champagne will be as water!

Took my pony out for a ride – he is in fine fettle.

Have at last got the policing running fairly smoothly & there is not nearly so much work.