19th December 2017

As part of the Peterborough in the Great War project, children from year 6 classes at Hampton Vale and Hampton Hargate primary schools took part in special workshops at Hampton Library exploring the lives and stories of the soldiers who wrote in the WUTAC guest books.

The children met World War One re-enactor Alex and discovered what life was like for the men who fought on the front during the First World War. After asking lots of questions about weapons, equipment and warfare during the period, the children were helped by Peterborough Poet Laurate 2016, Charley Weaver, to reflect on the experiences of those involved in World War One.

The students were inspired by examples of messages left in the guest books. They read the servicemen’s biographies and reflected on the men’s lives and emotional experiences in order to write original poems, a selection of can be read below.

Alfred Edwards Davis

I feel dismal, I can’t take pain like this anymore.

I need to talk to someone, something, anything!

Then I spot a tea room with a smiling women who catches my eye,

My crutches clonked as I walked over to her.

She gave me a heart-warming glance and asked me how many sugars I wanted.

She gave me a loaf of bread straight from the oven,

Which reminded me of my memories of home.


Alfred Edwards Davis

As I slept through the night,

Shot my friend and woke him with a fright.

I miss my sister and my brother,

Almost as much as I miss my mother.

The medal I hold for helping in the war,

I will not be ungrateful anymore.

I feel so upset for the unfortunate end my friend met,

He still lives on in my heart,

And we will never, ever be drawn apart.


Joseph Frederick Drewery

Every cloud has a silver lining

If sometimes bad,

If sometimes good,

To have to leave all my friends,

The death, destruction, chaos, the army.

I didn’t die in the war,

I fed my country.


Joseph Frederick Drewery

Walking up to the Great War,

Making me want to fight more.

I am going to fight with my friends,

I am hoping this war soon will end.

Trenches down a foot deep,

I can hardly sleep.

We have to ration our food,

And that puts me in a bad mood.

Bullets flying all around,

Creates such a loud sound.

So time to say good night,

Before I get up for another fight.


Frederick Gordon Brettle:

I’m ready to leave,

I’m ready to start,

I’m struggling to breathe.

There is fear in my heart,

There is hope in my core,

Yet my brothers are dead on the floor,

I’m leaving Australia to fight,

So I can give people hope and light,

Two years later I’m leaving the war,

I am cold and my foot is so sore,

But I’m leaving for good,

No more death,

I’m home again

I take my first fresh breath.


John Bonshor

Sitting on the train,

Minutes away from the war.

Holding in the pain,

Of not seeing my family.

A bubbly looking character,

Came towards me smiling.

She offered me ‘tea or cake?’

I took a tea,

Then she sat down next to me.

We started to talk,

She asked me where I was going,

‘War’ I said,

She smiled and said ‘Be careful’.

She told me about her son,

And how she worries every day.

Before I got off she asked me to write in her book,

So I did:

Kind hearts are more than coronets.


Major Ralph George

Sleeping at night,

My body always shivering with fright.

Fighting in the field all day,

Hoping I am safe, I pray.

Running out of breath,

Constant thoughts of death.

I pray again, this time with pain,

Tears flooding like rain, thinking this war is insane.

Yet I keep strong,

I doubt it will last for long,

Am I right or wrong?

I was right,

The soldier had his hand on the trigger, then he pressed send.

I guess this is the end.


John Bonshor

The water drips from the ceiling as my breathing gets harder.

I can hear the sobs of the new prisoners get taken into their cells.

My chest hurts; the drops are freezing cooling my fever.

The lack of communication is killing me, these walls separating me.

I’m only 23 tuberculosis is killing me.

I know my end is near,

I am filling up with fear.


Mary Glyn

My name is Mary Glyn, just a kind old girl,

I helped many soldiers in the war of the world.

Serving bread, cakes and tea,

To all the soldiers who came to me.

The men who passed through Peterborough station,

Seem to be in deep concentration,

We invite them in for a tasty brew,

To try and keep them sober too!

As they kiss me goodbye I begin to cry,

My eyes are welling up and I wish them good luck.

My vision goes fuzzy as they exit the hut,

We will miss their uniforms covered in mud.


The Way Back

I am on my way home from my little trench hole,

Shooting bullets through my worn out rifle.

I miss my family as it will take me months to get home,

From Australia to Walsall Peterborough.

I will miss my friends from the journey I’ve had,

But I will be thankful for living for those who are dead.

Can I have my tea and cake?

From the little café down the train, at the east station.

Lost many friends along this story,

Can only hope for a better future ahead,

To make a new story for me and my family and friends.







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