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Soldier Poets of the 2nd British Infantry Division

By Bob Cook and Robin McDermott Editors

An anthology of contemporary poems

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Like those of other formations engaged in the fighting in South East Asia in the latter years of the Second World War, such as the 5th Indian Division (the Ball of Fire Div.) and the 17th Indian Division (the Black Cat Div.), the members of the 2nd British Infantry Division (the Crossed Keys Div.) took pride in their Crossed Keys symbol, worn proudly on their bush hats during the entire campaign. They also took great pride in their achievements, which drove many to record their experiences in verse. 

This volume of 132 poems has been compiled for the most part from the content of memorabilia donated to the Kohima Museum by veterans, and in some cases their descendents, of the 2nd Division, written before, during and after the Battle of Kohima. Each one reflects the feelings of the soldiers as they at times struggled to come to terms with the slaughter, chaos and mayhem that would have ensued after the kind of savage hand-to-hand fighting that was a common aspect of combat against the ferocious Japanese soldier. 

Some poems have been written by young men who fell in service to their country so far from home and whose remains lie forever in a foreign land, to be remembered with honour in perpetuity. 

Other poems have been written by old men who survived the maelstrom of war and who took up the pen to clear their minds of the memories that flood back in their twilight years – but – they were young men once. 

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