WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY

MARCH 1915

TISBURY AND THE GREAT WAR

David Childs

On 10 March, after months of winter stalemate, British and Indian troops launched an assault on the village of Neuve Chapelle in Artois which they captured but were unable to advance further. The ground gained could be measured in square yards rather than miles and the battle, which ended on 13 March was considered to have been a tactical success but a strategic failure. Ten VCs were won at the cost of 7,000 British and 4,200 Indian casualties.

A few days later, on 18 March, the Gallipoli campaign began in earnest when a fleet of British and French warships attempted to force a passage through the Dardanelles which would have enabled them to sail up to Constantinople (Istanbul) and threaten the Turkish capital. It was a disaster with a cunningly sited minefield sinking three battleships and causing the rest to withdraw. The stage was thus set for a land campaign that would begin in April.

POEMS FOR MARCH

The release of the film 'Testament of Youth', which tells the story of Vera Brittain's love and loss during the First World War, leads to a break in this sequence of monthly poems with two that she wrote about the men she had loved and lost, her fiancé and her brother. Perhaps it is arguably the finest of war poems written from a woman's point of view.

Perhaps
by Vera Brittain
To R A L died of wounds France 2 December 1915 (Ronald Leighton)

Perhaps someday the sun will shine again,
And I shall see that still the skies are blue,
And feel once more I do not live in vain,
Although bereft of You.

Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
Will make the sunny hours of spring seem gay,
And I shall find the white May-blossoms sweet,
Though You have passed away.

Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright,
And crimson roses once again be fair,
And autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
Although You are not there.

Perhaps someday I shall not shrink in pain
To see the passing of the dying year,
And listen to Christmas songs again,
Although You cannot hear.

But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.

To My Brother
by Vera Brittain
In memory of 1 July 1916 (first day of the Battle of the Somme)
Written 11 June 1918 four days before Captain E H Brittain died on the Italian Front

Your battle-wounds are scars upon my heart,
Received when in that grand and tragic 'show'
You played your part,
Two years ago,

And silver in the summer morning sun
I see the symbol of your courage glow --
That Cross you won
Two years ago.

Though now again you watch the shrapnel fly,
And hear the guns that daily louder grow,
As in July
Two years ago.

May you endure to lead the Last Advance
And with your men pursue the flying foe
As once in France
Two years ago.

©  Tisbury History Society
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