In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Day one of the Navy Referees Charity cycle ride, in aid of the Royal British Legion and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity was completed under leaden skies over quiet but very wet Belgium and French roads.  An early section of notoriously difficult cobbles was successfully negotiated without mishap before steady progress along a largely flat route to Calais and the ferry crossing back to ‘Blighty’.

Wednesday evening had been the official start of the charity ride where the team had attended the daily Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate which including the laying of a wreath by youngest team member, Jamie Edwards.  A moment of sombre reflection before a good nights sleep and Thursday’s first day in the saddle.

Resplendent in their poppy emblazed cycling tops the team visited one of the many war graves along with  the Flanders Field museum before tucking the ball away for its trip to Brickfields.  Their tops reminded me of the poem by Moina Michael, written in 1918 and inspired by Maj John McCrae’s famous In Flanders Fields poem.

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,

Sleep sweet - to rise anew!

We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;

It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Friday and Saturday will see the ball travelling across the more gently undulating English countryside of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire as it continues it’s journey West towards Brickfields and Tuesday’s annual Remembrance fixture.  The Navy Referees have broken the £1200 pounds raised barrier and can be sponsored via their VirginMoney Charity Page.

Combined Services Women v Exeter University @ HMS Drake Tuesday 12 November KO 14:00 [Free Entry]

Combined Services v Barbarians @ Brickfields Tuesday 12 November KO 19:15 [Click for tickets]

Both matches in aid of the Royal British Legion.

By Geraint Ashton Jones