Poetry about the Dunkirk Evacuation

The "Evacuation of Dunquecue) Dunkirk" was written by a member of the Enniskillen Fusillers, an Irish infantry regiment of the British Army, who participated in the evacuation. The author of the poem wrote it during his recuperation from the war.  It given to Iris Fewkes who it turn submitted it to Joyce Mills of Age Concern Library in Leicester, English.

Evacuation of Dunquecue (Dunkirk)

Withdrawal orders had just come through,
Where we were bound for no one knew,
As time past by we heard the talk,
Of our destination being the beach at Dunquecue.

For days and nights on the country wide,
The troops on foot fought side by side,
While on roads in one unending line,
The convoys race against father time.

Hedges and roadside we know its true,
Were strewn with guns and vehicles too,
But no one seemed to think of the loss or gain,
Their thoughts were one, to live and fight again.

The weary trek was oh! so long,
But the allied troops were still in song,
The thought of loved ones there at home,
Gave British tommies no want to roam.

A ruined mass was what we saw,
When at last we reached the Dunquecue Shore,
The blazing docks with their reddish light,
Give guide to see us thought the night,

But what a sight there was in store,
The boys in blue and ships galore,
The Air Force too did play their part
In the Epic of Dunquecue right from the start.

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author.

Source: WW2 People's War, an archive of WW 2 memories written by the public, gahtered by BBC; http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/04/a2606104.shtml


"Dunkirk - A Tribute" was written by George Smith and submitted to the WW2 People's War archive by his dauythter, Janet Leaks.

Dunkirk — A Tribute

My memory may fade, after long years,
But through misty eyes, the you and the tears,
Of that glorious day, to end all sorrows,
And the many who fought, for all our tomorrows.

The memories of Dunkirk, on that infamous beach,
When the small boats of mercy seemed out of our reach,
The Battle of Britain, an attempt to subdue,
And the debt we owe, to those silent few.

To the western desert, in the heat and the sand,
Victory achieved, in the desolate land,
To the George Cross island, courageous and strong,
Through fire and hell, they lived in song.

From Monte Cassino, on the road to Rome,
Hearts becoming lighter, so closer to home.
Memories of D Day, on the Normandy coast,
The longest day, in the minds of most.

Victory day we commemorate, The Battle of Britain,
Admired by all, the heart of the nation.
Weary civilians, for their inspiration,
Let’s meet again and bring to the fore.

The tight band of friendship, returning once more,
Light up all the beacons and let us pray,
For the many who made this our special day,
While our guardians on high, as Bluebirds fly over.

Our symbol of peace, the white cliffs of Dover,
The Dunkirk spirit, which is proudly theirs,
For the spirit of freedom, we owe them our prayers,
A friendly land, a tender smile, that’s all you need to say,
Is thank you for my freedom, and thank you for today.

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author.

Source: Source: WW2 People's War, an archive of WW 2 memories written by the public, gahtered by BBC;http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/74/a4151774.shtml


Robert Gruntal Nathan was an American novelist and poet.  Borm into a prominent New York family, Nathan was educated in the U.S. and Europe.  While a student at Harvard he began writing short fiction and poetry.  One of his more famous novels, The Bishop's Wife was made into a successful film.  His most success book is Portrait of Jennie.


Robert Nathan

Will came back from school that day,
And he had little to say.
But he stood a long time looking down
To where the gray-green Channel water
Slapped at the foot of the little town,
And to where his boat, the Sarah P,
Bobbed at the tide on an even keel,
With her one old sail, patched at the leech,
Furled like a slattern down at heel.

He stood for a while above the beach,
He saw how the wind and current caught her;
He looked a long time out to sea.
There was steady wind, and the sky was pale,
And a daze in the east that looked like smoke.

Will went back to the house to dress.
He was half way through, when his sister Bess
Who was near fourteen, and younger than he
By just two years, came home from play.
She asked him, "Where are you going, Will?"
He said, "For a good long sail."
"Can I come along?"
"No, Bess," he spoke.
"I may be gone for a night and a day."
Bess looked at him. She kept very still.
She had heard the news of the Flanders rout,
How the English were trapped above Dunkirk,
And the fleet had gone to get them out
But everyone thought that it wouldn't work.
There was too much fear, there was too much doubt.

She looked at him, and he looked at her.
They were English children, born and bred.
He frowned her down, but she wouldn't stir.
She shook her proud young head.
"You'll need a crew," she said.

They raised the sail on the Sarah p,
Like a penoncel on a young knight's lance,
And headed the Sarah out to sea,
To bring their soldiers home from France.

There was no command, there was no set plan,
But six hundred boats went out with them
On the gray-green waters, sailing fast,
River excursion and fisherman,
Tug and schooner and racing M,
And the little boats came following last.
From every harbor and town they went
Who had sailed their craft in the sun and rain,
From the South Downs, from the cliffs of Kent,
From the village street, from the country lane.

There are twenty miles of rolling sea
From coast to coast, by the seagull's flight,
But the tides were fair and the wind was free,
And they raised Dunkirk by fall of night.

They raised Dunkirk with its harbor torn
By the blasted stern and the sunken prow;
They had reached for fun on an English tide,
They were English children bred and born,
And whether they lived, or whether they died,
They raced for England now.

Bess was as white as the Sarah's sail,
She set her teeth and smiled at Will.
He held his course for the smoky veil
Where the harbor narrowed thin and long.
The British ships were firing strong.

He took the Sarah into his hands,
He drove her in through fire and death
To the wet men waiting on the sands.
He got his load and he got his breath,
And she came about, and the wind fought her.

He shut his eyes and he tried to pray.
He saw his England were she lay,
The wind's green home, the sea's proud daughter,
Still in the moonlight, dreaming deep,
The English cliffs and the English loam
He had fourteen men to get away,
And the moon was clear, and the night like day
For planes to see where the white sails creep
Over the black water.

He closed his eyes and prayed for her;
He prayed to the men who had made her great,
Who had built her land of forest and park,
Who had made the seas an English lake;
He prayed for a fog to bring the dark;
He prayed to get home for England's sake.
And the fog came down on the rolling sea,
And covered the ships with English mist.
The diving planes were baffled and blind.

For Nelson was there in the Victory,
With his one good eye, and his sullen twist,
And guns were out on The Golden Hind,
Their shot flashed over the Sarah P.
He could hear them cheer as he came about.

By burning wharves, by battered slips,
Galleon, frigate, and brigantine,
The old dead Captains fought their ships,
And the great dead Admirals led the line.
it was England's night, it was England's sea.

The fog rolled over the harbor key.
Bess held to the stays, and conned him out.

And all through the dark, while the Sarah's wake
Hissed behind him, and vanished in foam,
There at his side sat Francis Drake,
And held him true, and steered him home.  

Source: http://www.poem-poetry.com/poem-dunkirk-rescue-by-children.html


Born in Nottingham, David Lewis Paget lived in Great Barr, Birmingham, until the age of 13, when he migrated to Australia. Paget in Adelaide, joined Air Force at 21 and became Instrument Fitter. Began writing poetry during duty crew and guard weekends. In 1976 fulltime to Flinders University of South Australia, Bachelors degree in English and History. Wrote and published a magazine for the unemployed called 'Bread'. Wrote and published monthly magazines 'Trader's Gate' and 'Central Yorke Peninsula Mercury' for three years in the late 1980's. Ran printing and publishing business Mushroom Graphics until 1990, then Cottage Print until 2005. Gave up poetry for five years, and wrote eight novels in the early 2000's.


David Lewis Paget

They came from a line of fishermen,
Way back, two hundred years,
The sons of a dour old Kentish man,
Who'd braved the First World War;
When Joe went off to the Army, then,
The old man's face was grim,
'You go and fight for the country, lad,
We can't rely on him! '

He scowled on down at the eldest lad
Who sat there, mending nets,
For all he knew was the salt, the sea
And a life of cheap regrets.
The black sheep of the family
Was all that his father saw,
For Jack had refused the Army call:
'I don't believe in war! '

A feather came in the post next day,
As white as a cotton sheet,
The father turned his back on him
For shame, and refused to speak.
While Joe went off with the B.E.F.
To help the beleaguered French,
Jack was mending his fishing nets,
And sat with his fingers clenched.

Their fishing boat, the Pelican,
Lay stranded in Sandwich Bay,
Just twenty feet, and clinker built,
With the deckhouse cut away.
When the Panzers swept down to the coast,
Reaching the channel first,
The B.E.F. had retreated back
To the beaches at Dunkirk.

The Navy sent destroyers then,
Their frigates and corvettes,
But couldn't get close to the beaches there
Because of the shallow depths,
The Navy's own small vessel pool
Then called for the help of those
Whose boats were a certain shallow draught
To ferry the soldiers home.

When Jack came in, the news was out,
His mother sat, dismayed,
The Army was stranded along the beach
Where Joe lay low, and prayed.
The Stuka's screamed, and dropped their bombs
And the lines of men were strafed,
Three hundred thousand men despaired
As the Panzers lay in wait.

'So much for you, ' the father said,
As the tears poured down his cheek,
'So much for the lunacy of war, '
Said Jack, when he could speak.
'Your brother's out there, risking all,
My son, my shining light! '
But Jack stalked out with a bitter laugh,
And cried, once out of sight.

He strode on out to the Pelican,
The tide was coming in,
He dragged and pushed it to meet the sea
As he floated it again,
He kicked the inboard into life
And he sailed for Ramsgate then,
The boats were gathering by the score
To save their countrymen.

They sailed that night in convoys, groups,
And lines of little boats,
While Jack prayed long at the tiller
That the Pelican stayed afloat,
She'd never been out as far as this,
She was just a coastal craft…
But Joe stood out in the water, then,
And thought of his brother, Jack.

The Stuka's bombed the Naval ships,
They strafed the lines of men,
Joe didn't know if he'd ever get back
To his homeland, once again.
The Foudroyant was bombed and sank,
A destroyer ran aground,
Then a hundred boats, with the Pelican,
Finally sighted land.

Jack took the Pelican close inshore
And he loaded his twenty men,
He ferried them out to a waiting ship
Then turned to the shore again,
He plucked the men from the waters there
And he looked for his brother Joe,
But Joe was safe on a steamer, then,
Though his brother didn't know.

For hours he turned, and turned about,
He saved five hundred lives,
He worked himself to exhaustion there
Like a man who the devil drives,
Eight hundred ships and boats were there
In the smoke and the swirling murk,
To bring those thousands of soldiers home
From the beaches of Dunkirk.

Joe walked unsteadily through the door
To the cries of his folks, alone,
They couldn't speak for the pure relief
Of seeing him safe at home,
But his father suddenly pulled away,
And wept, while turning his back,
'We've just been told by the foot patrol…
We've lost your brother, Jack! '

'They said the Pelican's hull was holed
With a burst of cannon rounds,
The men on board were saved, I heard,
But three of them were drowned.
They left the bodies to float out there;
Oh God; now, what have I done? '
He shook his head as he cried, and said,
'I've lost my eldest son! '

They placed a plaque on the Harbour wall
For Jack and the Pelican,
While the father stared most days to sea
As he cried there, off and on,
Then he took a match and some tinder wood
For a pledge he'd made before,
To burn a pure white feather there
For a son who hated war.

Source: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/dunkirk-2/