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A Tour of the Battlefields by a Dunkirk
Veteran of the Royal Regiment
on Cambrai Day 1976


Arthur Matthews 

 

I approached this very quiet place,
Just back from the road a pace
And saw a stone plaque set in a wall,
Very near to the village hall,
Though many passed, few ever saw,
These men died in the Second World Way,
I looked closely, the names I read,
Under the title "Our Glorious Dead,"
I paused, three names I knew,
My friends, members of my crew,
Sadly now a neglected place,
Where sometimes children came to play,
I knew my friends, I knew they would say,
No complaints, the price we were prepared to pay,
For children play in freedom - don't they?
Though I'm getting old, I'd done my best,
Shoes polished, medals gleaming on my chest,
I stood to attention as best I could,
And there silently I stood,
Bowing my head to hide my grief,
Icarefully placed a Poppy wreath,
I prayed as "Tank" men sometimes do,
"Roll on lads," remember the blue,
Talk of home over a hurried brew,
Then mount up, move off, press on,
Remember our days at Mersa Matruh,
Way out in Egypt, way out in the blue,
Something else I have to say,
I will never forget the day,
When I "blew a gasket" and had a lot to say,
I remember I called you a sloppy crew,
Yet in my heart I really knew,
I was so proud of you,
I slowly turned and walked away,
Reflecting to myself, God willing,
I will be on parade next "Cambrai Day."

By Arthur (Jess) John Matthews.
7883399
R.T.C. 1932
R.T.R. 1939

 

EXPLANATIONS: I had served with my crew in Mersa Matruh in Egypt in 1935. We called the desert the Blue, it was rough. A brew is of course a mug of tea when possible. Cambrai Day is the special day of the "Royal Tank Regiment," November 20th, when our regiment was born.

 

ABOVE: In the Tank Corp

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UPDATED: 25 December 2013

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