Corporal John Whatmore, born in Cardiff Wales, drafted into the British army in 1952 when he was 19 years old. Having grown up during World War II, his hometown was victim to raids and bombings imprinting the sounds of war in the young boy’s mind.
As a child he would play with his friends amongst the ruins. According to Whatmore he often had to run home from school to hide in the safety bunker. He remembered the sound of the soldiers swift boots on pavement when they marched by.
Whatmore served as a physical training instructor for four peacetime years.
“It is important to remember all the unsung heroes who handled things like feeding the troops, laundry, cooks, medics, stretcher bearers, without them the troops could not function.
“I revere what veterans have done,” he told The Suburban in an emotional interview.
“The original Flanders Field poem by John McRae was brilliant for its time.” he explained. “I wanted to reflect upon it and write something a hundred years later that remembered all those who never came back and those who came back broken.”
The Beaconsfield resident offers experience and often witty commentary at the monthly city council meetings that he has attended for more than 30 years. He volunteers selling poppies each year for Remembrance Day.
Poppies of Flanders
Here in Flanders Field I lie,
In cratered hills beneath the sky;
Hearing gone in shelling-blast,
Earth now holds me in its grasp.
Body numb, blood stains the ground,
Can hear the silence all around;
I’m cradled now in poppies red,
To mark my place amongst the dead.
See poppies clothed in morning dew,
Weeping now, their tears for you;
I think of home, and those I love,
Whilst drifting clouds float high above.
My open eyes begin to glaze,
The poppies now, a crimson haze;
Darkness covers me in sleep,
I died a man, I did not weep.
— John Whatmore