Remembrance Day Poems from Lorne Smith

From his book, “Memories and Dreams”, by Past President Lorne L. Smith

D-Day, June 6, 1944

On the 5th of June, 1944, We boarded our small boats at Southampton: Tomorrow, in France, we’d open the door For millions under the heel of the Hun. We were the chosen troops, and had the chore, Of attacking the Nazis on the beach, Over in France, on the Normandy shore – To gain a beachhead for others to reach. The S.D.G. were Highland Infantry, From small towns in southern Ontario; For five years they’d trained, and they were ready – But, some wouldn’t see sunset, tomorrow. They were scared, or blasé, but all were brave; They came from small towns, and farms, and from school; And gave up their homes, so that they could save Others, downtrodden by the Nazi rule. Huddled together in our landing craft, Cold, and unhappy, but anxious to start, Most were on edge, you could tell when they laughed, But, they would be fine when time to depart. Some played cards, some talked, a few would just stare, Though, most thought of their loved ones, far away – Then up on the deck in the open air, The quiet voice of Padre said “Let’s pray”. After supper, and a chance to rest, too, We were on our way – to death, or glory; But, each soldier felt that he would get through, And, would be a part of a great victory. It was a stormy night! Many were sick, But none of our training helped on that score – We, jokingly, said it was just a trick, To make us anxious to land on the shore. Our boat was covered with a musty net, To camouflage us from the enemy; So Nazi pilots wouldn’t be upset, When they saw Canadian infantry. Then, at last, weather began to improve, And we’d seen the end of the heavy rains; And, balloons, from boats, floated high above, To dissuade the low-flying German planes. We knew that we were only a small part Of a great flotilla leaving Britain, And, that other craft were making a start, All the way from Scotland to Southampton. Above, the largest air armada known; And, helped by prayers from free people, at home – But each boat felt in a world of its own, And each soldier felt very much alone. Suddenly, the day broke – France was in sight. We strained our eyes to try and see the shore, And, after traveling quietly, all night, We knew we would now hear noises of war. Boats by the hundreds, and planes by the score Were firing guns, rockets, and all the rest; Lorne Smith – Lorne joined the Stormont, Dundas and Glengary Highlanders on August 25, 1941. He went with his unit to the Uk in 1942 where they trained and prepared with the Allies for the D-Day invasion. Captain Lorne Smith's regiment, The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, were part of the Ninth Brigade, Third Canadian Division that landed at Juno Beach, France, on June 6, 1944. Lorne fought with his regiment through France, Holland and Germany until Ve Day. Captain Smith returned home late in 1945. And they were shooting back at us from shore – Our battle was beginning – in earnest. I took a last look at my photos, and Checked gun, and kit, and was ready to jump Just as soon as our boat would hit the sand – And, that throbbing sound was my own heart pump. With a slight jar, our boat stopped, front went down; We shouted, and yelled, for now we were there; Leaped in the water, hoped he wouldn’t drown, On the beach of Normandy, near Bernières. Across sand, up the road, each of us runs; Some didn’t make it, and lay on the beach, Along with burned boats, vehicles, and guns – But we re-grouped in the way that they teach. Still a thousand miles, or so, yet to go, But we knew we had won the first few feet; And, in spite of much more war, and sorrow, Out first major hurdle was now complete. It’s thirty-three years, since that day in June, When in a few hours we lived a lifetime; But, every moment, from morning till noon, Was etched in my memory, for all time; The boats, and planes, and the sand on the shore; The rockets, and flares, lighting up the sky; The noise, and the horrible sounds of war – The wonderful soldiers, so soon to die. Annually, some of us get together, To reminisce, and talk of friends we knew; Of how we hoped the world would be better, When we did the things, that we had to do. We went to the war with stars in our eyes, Determined to defeat the enemy, So Nazis would not touch our families – Because, we felt, everyone should be free. How we’d like to talk, with many dear friends, Who cannot join us – they’re buried in France; And, if you really want to make amends, Then live in peace, and give all youth a chance. I just made a trip to the cemetery, To be with the “biggest” men that I’d met – Not men! Mostly boys, eighteen or twenty. What a tragic waste, if we just forget!

June 6, 1977 Lorne L. Smith