A poem penned by a Grantham writer will take pride of place in a time capsule to be placed under a memorial to the millions of horses killed in the First World War.
Val Odell, a member of Grantham Writers, entered her poem, called ‘Goodbye Old Friend’, into a competition run by the Daily Express for items to be included in the time capsule, which will be an authentic First World War artillery shell casing.
The casing will be buried in a stone plinth to go beneath the bronze statue of a horse which will be unveiled at Ascot in June next year.
The statue will be a monument to the millions of UK, Allied and Commonwealth horses, mules and donkeys lost during The Great War of 1914-18.
Val originally wrote her poem last year when the PDSA awarded a medal to the war horse Warrior.
Val said of her poem being included: “I was amazed. I thought it was very nice to have been included.”
When she submitted her poem, Val said in her letter that she recalled going with a friend to visit her grandfather. He was a cavalry officer in the First World War and would tell them stories about the horses he had known and about their bravery and friendship. The horse was called Ulysses but a clerk entered his name as Useless in the register. The grandfather was put on a charge after correcting the mistake in the register.
Goodbye Old Friend
He lay there in the dross of war,
Beyond all hope and pain.
His legs were broke, his wounds did bleed,
The soldier called him ‘Noble Steed’,
And put a bullet through his brain.
Then the soldier kneeling down,
Bent his head and cried,
‘You were the noblest beast of all,
Did your duty - answered the call’,
And I am filled with grateful pride
Through all the charges you carried me,
And never did you falter.
Though bullets whistled past your side,
And many men and horses died,
Your pace would never alter.
And so my friend this is goodbye,
I’ve done my best for you,
I’ve sent you to a safer place,
Where horses graze in gentle grace,
And wish I could go too.
Then in the sky above all noise,
He heard a singing lark.
He felt it was an Angel’s song,
And knew his life would not be long,
As the sniper’s bullet hit its mark.
They found them lying side by side,
A soldier and his noble Steed,
What sacrifice by man and beast,
Too high a price to pay for peace,
More than God and Man agreed.