The Somme – A Clear Day by Sir William Orpen 1917.

View From The British Trenches Opposite La Boisselle, Showing The German Front Line and Mine Craters.


A Memory of the Somme by Sir William Orpen.

A fair Spring morning – not a living soul is near.

Far Far away I hear the faint grumble of the guns.

The Battle has passed long since, all is Peace.

Sometimes there is the hum of aeroplanes as they pass overhead,  Amber specks high up in the blue.

Occasionally there is the movement of a rat in the old battered trench on which I sit – still in the confusion of which it was left.

The sun is baking hot, strange odours come from the door of a dug-out with its endless steps running down into blackness.

The land is white – dazzling.

The distance is all shimmering in heat.

A few little spring flowers have forced their way through the chalk.

He lies a few yards in front of the trench, we are quite alone.

He makes me feel awed and small and ashamed

He has been there a long long time.

Hundreds of eyes have seen him.

Hundreds of bodies have felt faint and sick because of him.

This place was Hell.

But now all is peace – the sun has made him Holy and Pure.

He  and his garments are bleached pale and clean.

A daffodil is by his head and his golden curly hair is moving in the slight breeze.

He, the man who died in “No Man’s Land” doing some great act of bravery for his comrades and country.

Here he lies – Holy and Pure, his face upward turned.

No earth between him and his maker.

I have no right to be so near.


Post by Dominic Lee who may be contacted via or