If I should never see the moon again
Rising red gold across the harvest field,
Or feel the stinging of soft April rain
As the brown earth her hidden treasures yield.
If I should never taste the salt sea spray
As the ship beats her course against the breeze,
Or smell the dog rose and the new mown hay,
Or moss and primrose beneath the trees.
If I should never hear the thrushes wake
Long before the sunrise in the glittering dawn,
Or watch the huge Atlantic rollers break
Against the rugged cliffs in baffling scorn.
If I have said goodbye to stream and wood,
To the wide ocean and the green-clad hills,
I know that He who made this world so good
Has somewhere made a heaven better still.
This bear I witness with my latest breath
Knowing the love of God, I fear not death.
This poem was written by Major Samuel Malcolm Boyle (known as Sammy or Sandy) of the 7th Battalion The Green Howards shortly after landing on Gold Beach on the 6th June 1944. He sent it to a friend in another regiment.
Major Boyle commanded D Company, and the battalion faced bitter fighting in the Normandy countryside in the days following the D-Day landings.
On the 16th of June, the 7th battalion was advancing along the road south west of the hamlet of les Orailles, with D company one of those leading the advance.
They came under attack from German 88mm guns, heavy machine gun and mortar fire. Amongst the dead were the two leading company commanders – Major Boyle being one of them.
“The sudden loss of these two officers had a depressing effect on us all. We were in a very sombre mood.” wrote Private Tateson.
Sandy Boyle is buried in Bayeux War Cemetery.
This content was originally created for National Poetry Day in 2015, when the theme was ‘light’.