Remembrance Day: Bexley’s MPs and councillors select their favourite war poems and songs

PUBLISHED: 17:01 28 October 2013 | UPDATED: 09:33 29 October 2013

Remembrance Day poppies

Remembrance Day poppies


The rich variety of literature and songs which have derived from war are being put under the spotlight by Bexley Times readers, who are selecting their favourites.


And the borough’s MPs and councillors were first in line to reveal theirs.

David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, vouched for Anthem for Doomed Youth by First World War soldier and poet Wilfred Owen.

He said: “It is a really poweful and moving commentrary on the pity of war.

“As for a song, [I choose] the troops’ marching song Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag. It is often sung at services I attend, such as the East Wickham and Welling War Memorial Trust’s Festival of Remembrance, and it evokes the memory of the troops marching.”

MP Teresa Pearce, who represents Erith and Thamesmead, selected In Flanders Fields by Canadian physician and lieutenant John McCrae.

She said: “Though there are so many World War One poems that are more powerful and complex, this one is more personal to me.

“My grandfather Charles Van Holsbeke settled in the UK in 1919 after surviving [battles in] Flanders Fields.”

James Brokenshire, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, said: “For me the most evocative piece of war poetry is Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen. Its fourth verse has become an intrinsic part of our service of remembrance.

“It conveys in such clear and powerful terms the ultimate sacrifice paid by those who have fallen in battle and the duty we all have to remember the freedoms their lives secured.”

The fourth paragraph of the poem states, “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”

Bexley Council’s leader Cllr Teresa O’Neill chose It is a Long Way to Tipperary. The music hall favourite was allegedly sung by an Irish regiment as they marched through France and it was then picked up by other units in the British Army.

She said: “Obviously there’s an Irish connection and both my parents are Irish. My Irish great-grandfather also fought for the army.”

Cllr Don Massey, cabinet member for community safety and leisure, also selected a song.

He said: “If I am totally honest, the one song that encapsulates it for me is The Last Post. I can recall from a very early point in my life everything halting on Remembrance Sunday and remembering the sacrifices of thousands of people all around the world in two world wars and other more recent conflicts.”

He added: “The sounding of The Last Post is etched on my consciousness and when I hear it now I recall the trip I made to Flanders several years ago to see the war graves in and around Ypres.

“Seeing line upon line of gravestones really brings home how many families lost their loved ones.”

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