Australian War Cemetery, Pozières

Alan Gould

Wind, drizzle, the big brooms scour Picardy.
Sparrows explode like shrapnel over ploughland
that's March-wet, cake-rich in the common minerals,
twenty thousand mouths diversely silenced,
calmer now, but only just, standing ranked
in the white regiments, the 'inconnus'
fighting off the lichen, the soil's subsidence.

    The obelisk is overgrand;
    we died for shrines less serious,
    a wire fence made beautiful
    by caught straw, a steam thresher
    rusting in a field.

None like this wind's gist, that these the regular dead
will go under utterly, as their names
went, launched on stray splinters, buried, unplaited
like the trees around Gibraltar Point.
Time perhaps to count the cost? Not here. Not now.
Another nation has learnt it is the cud
of the years. The new crop's pushing up like bayonets.

    For seven weeks much iron fell;
    nowhere was safe; some survived.
    Fewer returned to homes they knew.
    Some say the old world died. For us
    nothing is the same.

Pozières, along with other places like Villers-Bret and Gallipoli, is one of the First World War battles that still resound for Australians.

Pozières was a small French village which became the scene of bitter fighting during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Occupying a strategic high point between Bapaume and Albert, the task of capturing the village was handed to Australian troops. They managed to enter the village by July 23rd and finally took all the ridge - the highest point on the Somme battlefield - by August 5th. 23,000 men were lost in this part of the battle. The "inconnus" are the unkown soldiers.

The Gibraltar strongpoint was a bunker which formed a key part of the German defences. Its ruins are now a observation point overlooking the memorial of the First Australian Division.

Click here for a great image of the view over the Somme battlefield from the Gibraltar blockhouse.

Main Location:

80300 Pozières, France

Other locations:

The Gibraltar Strongpoint at Pozieres in 1916 after capture by Australian forces.