A collection of poetry

The Seven Echoes – Poetic Responses

This is a collection of poetry written by pupils at Titus Salt School, and inspired by the interviews of local people with connections to the Armed Forces. The work has be used to create a more studied and condensed poem by Dave Cryer patron of reading at Titus Salt School, which can be found by clicking here. It will also be used by the sculptors to create exhibits for the Armed Forces Sculpture Trail along the Ferniehurst Dell path.

Devon Rhodes

Still Haunting

Cut out memories.
Friends and lives left behind.
Nightmares still haunting

I’ve only come so far,
With my friends behind me,
Trailing lines of blood.

Cut out memories,
Letting silence take me.
Nightmares still haunting.

This Time Again

This time again
To tell the stories I’ve been in.

From Dear John letters to small goodbyes,
To doing my duty and helping lives,
Walking away from my loved ones –
A hard thing I should say.

But normal life was too boring.
I needed something more,
So on a boat I got and a new life started,
Plus a wife who I’m thankful for.

Lydia Williams


Never Forget

I was just lucky,
Determined to carry on,
Never forgetting.

Friendships that are lost,
Never ever forgotten,
Memories have stayed with me.


Whatever happens,
You get on with it.
If you receive a Dear John letter,
Which I did, you just continue.

It was my duty,
Preparing bodies,
Giving back the respect the soldiers deserve.
It was an honour to serve for my country.
Stand tall and carry on.

I will never forget my time as a sailor,
Knowing I helped other people.
I still have the memories,
Good and bad.
They will stay with me forever.

Adventure, Ambition

I was very adventurous, I was,
Kayaking, sky-diving and rock-climbing.
I attempted my parachute jump – from 100 feet
The parachute collapsed.
I was rescued by a helicopter,
Spent one month in hospital,
Three months in a wheelchair.
I thought I’d never be able to walk again,
But I did, and I still have ambitions.

Freya McCauley

The Haunting

Three of us are left,
Three who saw the suffering,
Three who were lucky.

I saw suffering.
I still see it in my dreams.
The memories haunt me.

I saw suffering.
The memories haunt me still.
There is no escape.

There is no escape.
I can’t forget the pain I saw.
My memories haunt me.

Death and Dear John

I remember the day I died.
I was 24, a navy pilot.
All I did was miss the boat,
But in the sea I couldn’t float.
The ship’s propellers shredded my body.
They ripped limb from limb.
It was for my country that I have pride.
That was the day I died.

My Dear John letter,
From my wife
Said she’d found another fellah.
I’d waited, I’d longed to see her,
See my children too,
But they were torn away that day.
I carried on though.

Thoughts of Leaving

Waving goodbye.
To your loved one.
The one you hold dear.
You don’t think.
You can’t think.

Jakub Proszowski

Say or Save

Only three of us.
We are the lucky ones.
Together all time.

It’s our destiny
To never say a thing,
Save the younger ones.

Dear John Replies

Dear Sally,
The role of an anchor is not for me,
So thank you for letting me go
And making yourself free.
Sally, I don’t blame you for choosing love which is
Right for you.
But don’t forget,
I chose my path too –
I chose the life of a sailor,
The life of which I always dreamed.
Dear Sally,
You wanted my heart to be yours.
I wanted our country to be ours.

Possible title:

Whispers of Duty

Holly Buchan

Thick and Thin

Through the good and bad,
Friendship: an unbreakable bond.
Good guys, a bad life.

Through the suffering,
Through the torture and the fear –
Friends through thick and thin.

Cut it out of my mind.
I was a lucky one.

Head Held High

Down to the pub,
Smart uniform on, walking with pride.
Off with my crew,
Escaping the ‘Dear John’ letters –
‘Goodbye fellah’ –
Your world tipped upside down.
Sail on with your head held high.

‘I’m sick of  you being away’
Two years away,
Two years of passion drowned in the sea.
Goodbye forever, my lover.
Sail on with your head held high.

Tropical and cold,
Posh and poverty,
Venturing to every inch of the world,
Sailor by day, explorer by night.
Sail on with your head held high.

Samantha Turner


There are only three
Where once there were many more –
Survivors of war.

Once very scary,
But the nightmares grow worse now,
An image of death.

A lovely kind man,
One who cares for old and young,
Smiles and laughs to cope.

Digging up his friends
And enemies who have died,
A work full of dread.

A Man

A man that is proud,
Proud to be him,
Proud of his job,
Proud that he lives.

A man that is strong,
Strong from the sea,
Strong from his job,
Strong for his family.

A man who has seen,
Seen many great things,
Seen all different places,
Seen burial at sea.

A man who is home,
Home with his wife,
Home with his kids,
No more lonely nights.

The Hazy Cloud

I used to be free to train how I liked,
Kayaks, parachutes and rock-climbing gear,
But one day that changed and dreams became spiked.
My routine has changed in less than a year.

My hope is not lost, my dreams are not crushed,
Although it may seem so,  I shall not give up.
The accident stopped me but not for long –
The spark in my heart will always go on.

I will not stop trying to help myself,
Getting to the top means everything now.
I will find myself in the hazy cloud.
I can always win because I am strong.

Mimi Gallagher

Reaching Out

Reaching out, but you’re not there.
Reaching out, you don’t care.
Reaching out for a past unscathed.
Reaching out so our relationship can be saved.
Reaching out for the insomnia never to have begun.
Reaching out with nowhere to run.
Reaching out for an anchor to harbour your heart.
Reaching out for hope for the deaths to never start.
Reaching out for the war with myself to end.
Reaching out for you, my confidant, my friend.
The light dims, the darkness thrives,
On goes the fight to stay alive,
But inside I’m still dead.

I Need You Now

Emptiness bombards me.
My home’s a cemetery,
Lifeless, overwhelmingly silent,
Contaminated with grief –
I need you now.

A waterfall of tears
Drenches my dismal days,
Waiting for you to return,
When in my heart I can’t deny
That I’m waiting for your death.
I need you now.

Possible title:

Voices Unheard

James Weedon

The Beginning

A lot were killed there.
Saw some terrible things.
‘I’ll never forget it.’

‘No, I’ve only just come,’
He says, injured, under the sun . . .
‘No, give me a chance, I’ve just begun.’

Carry On

They opened the letters.
They let go of their families.
They were stuck with broken hearts.
They just carried on.

They travelled the world,
From bottom to top.
Through all the experiences
They just carried on.

I buried the bodies,
Despite blood and guts.
I served my country.
I’ll never forget.

Possible title:

They Never Forget

Edward Cooke

A Better Man

I couldn’t have missed it.
I couldn’t have stayed in the cycle of life.
Work, eat, sleep, and not live.

The pride of the uniform,
The responsibility, the duty,
Giving up everything at home.

Giving up my first love,
Opening her letter,
Leaving my girls in the past.

Looking back, so much was important:
The pilot who died the worst possible way
At 24 years.

The places around the world – twice,
And the friends I made,
The 15-year-old waiting to return.

It’s the only thing to do.
It’s the realisation of life’s beauty.
I return, two years later, a better man.

That Time is Over

War is over now.
Memories I shut away,
But they never leave.

I am no hero.
Just some luck from bad times gone,
Ever shut away.

One four seven dead –
Those to whom I could talk
And let myself live.

Friends or family?
Those for whom I carried on –
Only two remain.

That time is over.
No need to look upon it.
Leave it in the past.

Not a Soldier

I’m not a soldier.
That part of my life ended.
That chapter finished.
Not in the right way,
With a broken parachute
And two broken hips.
It’s hard to move on,
To end your career too early,
To choose a new dream.
‘What do I do now?’
My army training worthless,
Identity lost.
But no, not really,
Because I’ll always be me.
I still have my soul.
I’m not a soldier,
But one quality I have
Is I’m a fighter.

Possible titles:

Never forgotten
( ^ acrostic, spelling out ‘seven’ )
The Scattering of Voices
The Echo Collective
7 Shards of War
Life Spirit
The Sound of Seven

Laura Woodhead


Just a public place
Destroyed by the world,
Seeking out the bodies
That I once came to know.

You get pushed down,
Yet you pick yourself up.
You’ve been through a lot,
Yet you still prepare yourself for worse.

Many deaths you’ve witnessed,
But you realise that could be you,
Yet you pick yourself up,
Again and again.

One day you’ll come at peace,
Your heart will be out there,
But you pick yourself up
And just move on.

Forget about the world
You’ve come to know –
Just hold on,
Then let go.
Let it drift out to sea.

That Fake Smile

A man’s world,
A man’s pride.
You saw me then,
You see me hide.

A firework can set me off,
Bringing back memories
I try to forget.

I put on a fake smile,
But I’m broken underneath,
But I’m lucky, very lucky indeed.

I have nightmares of what I saw –
No one can change that.
I need help, can’t you see?
That fake smile is me saying, ‘Help me.’

Arian Bradley

Voices of Hope and Survival

A whispered goodbye, mental block in place.
A kiss on the cheek can mean a thousand words.
Nobody’s smiling, the atmosphere’s tense.

I just can’t let go, the past is in place.
Instinctive reactions, they never leave.
You just have to remember, life never stops.

The doors of opportunity have gone.
They all came crashing down on top of me.
Identity crisis, who could I be?

Sailing Along

Life moves in a constant cycle,
The wind blows and the sea churns,
The ground groans beneath us.

The letter of despair
Shatters your marriage,
Your dreams, without a care.
Life still moves on.

Fifteen years of age.
You’ll soon turn grey
With the maturity you’ve shown.
Life still moves on.

Doing my duty, you say,
The pain evident on your face,
Your fragile heart torn to pieces
With memories of the past.
Time is frozen in those moments
Without the knowledge of your actions –
Your life can’t move on.

You’ve seen pain and tears
Over plenty of years.
You’ve had the chance to reminisce.
All the joy and the love
You’ve hidden from us.
Your life is yours, always.

Yes, Yes

Repeating your words,
The memories not so blurred,
Grasping onto hope.

The graveyard is filled.
Maybe you’re not far behind,
Blocking out the world.

The nightmares are real,
Filling your head with terror –
The past comes alive.

Shut away the pain,
Hide the medals out of sight.
Can’t leave friends behind.

Georgia Briggs


A horrible sight:
Eyes burning with guiltiness,
Shamed in broken streets.

Traumatic, bad dreams
Always hide the suffering.
Lost my fallen friends.

A Drop in the Ocean

‘Just doing my duty,’
Says the man with his mind at sea
And his heart at home,
Swimming against the tide to try to reach serenity,
But a drop in the ocean cannot fly; neither can I,
So I do my duties on my ship,
Not letting my worries or hopes slip,
In fear that they’ll wash against the shore
Of a country I don’t want to sail to anymore.

Amy Gilligan

Forever Fighting

Never forgotten,
Forever in the moment,
Blocking the nightmares.

Shut away the pain,
Hide your darkest memories,
Laugh to hide tears.

Doing my duty,
It has to be done,
Forgetting the struggles of back home.

I’ve lost so much,
My love, my friends,
But there’s no time for reminiscing
On the good nor the bad.

I must carry on.
I must forget.

Saying goodbye to the one you love,
Not knowing what could be coming next.
It’s hard to smile when your heart’s breaking.
I just have to hope for the best.

Possible titles:

Forever Fighting
Life Songs

Ellymariekie Gurney


War never ceases
For the people who survive.
It never leaves you.

Memories flicker
Like an old television –
A constant vision.

A gut-wrenching guilt –
Could I have ever saved them?
Hands slick with their blood.

My crippled body,
Weak, vulnerable body –
Age caught up with me.

I’m riddled with scars,
But not just on the outside –
They cut very deep.

War Law

With every man plunged into war
Your mind becomes battered and sore.
Every life that is taken
A shock to the system,
Held aloft by the oldest of laws.

Maria Chowdhury

One Minute

One minute in the army,
The next you’re going barmy.
First I was a soldier,
Now I’m facing a massive boulder.

One minute I’m rock climbing,
The next I’m finding
A new job or life
But it’s like being knifed.

Like Nothing I’ve Seen

Digging up bodies,
Youngsters as young as sixteen,
Like nothing I’ve seen.

In trucks from the zoo,
Some young girls were being pulled through,
And hair cut off too.

Sea Life

I didn’t like
A civilian’s life:
Work, home, eat,
Work, home, sleep.

Away at sea,
It took six or seven weeks
To get used to being
Far away from my family.

Many sights I’ve seen,
Many places I’ve been.

But behind the door,
There’s something more,
And if you get a ‘Dear John’ letter,
Don’t weep, it gets better.

Luke Parkinson


I had ambitions, lifelong pursuits
To be the best.
Life was my chess board and I had all the moves.
The army was my pathway leading where to go.

I would jump,
I would fly,
I would fall from the sky,
I would swim,
I would do anything.

It’s a one in a thousand chance,
But I’d done it –
One thousand jumps –
It was bound to happen,
Smashing my hips and my ambition.

My survival was luck
And my accident was fate.
I had my body
But my ambition was late

But I carry on, my ambition returns
As I head into the future.
I have no regrets and no concerns.

The Veteran

Just three of them left.
The nightmares are getting worse,
But it’s all over.

Cut it out of the mind,
Forever hiding stories,
Just don’t look behind.

We were all together.
I do not want to leave,
I’ve only just come.


A life influenced by the norm,
Devoid of excitement,
All boring and calm,
No unique ways –
What routine there is stays.

But I’m a sailor,
Doing my duty,
A duty woven into my pride,
A dedication of respect,
Dead or alive.

As I march in front of the country,
It is then when I see
Being a sailor or a soldier –
That was the only life for me.


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