Wednesday, 16 April 2014

For Laura

Second Lieutenant R. E. Cook was never far from my thoughts last weekend. On Sunday April 13th I travelled to Crawley to pay my respects. The previous weekend some of the townspeople were out in force to help prepare The Heroes Walk in the Memorial Park. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I was unable to make the original planting but on Sunday I was able to rectify this by planting some special poppy seeds that I had brought back with me from my recent trip to Flanders.  I also managed to plant some poppy seeds in various other “Old Crawley” locations.

A hundred years ago in 1914 Eddie Cook was a school boy, the heir to the family building business, and surely must have been a delight to his parents.

Just four short years later, he was dead and 96 years ago his parents long grief was just starting.

I have often thought over the years just how painful this must have been for Ted and Laura. Sometime ago I composed a poem which I have called ‘For Laura.’

From the corner of the road
I saw you turn into the station
Just one more brave boy
Going back to the Front
To stem the German tide
To try and save our Nation.

Your first leave had come and gone
Towards the end, behind the grim exterior,
I saw my boy again
Just one more frightened boy
Having known the unknowable
And knowing that the final onslaught was to come.

Everywhere the talk was of
The Kaiser’s million extra men
I watched the train arrive and then
Came a brief, sad, wave
From my boy
The bravest of the brave.

The train pulled away from the platform
And six weeks later came the telegram
Just one more fallen boy
But mine – my heart, my love, my joy.
To leave us left to think of what might have been –
‘Died of wounds April Thirteenth 1918.

The Army Council express sympathy.’

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