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Exeter's 'Blitz' poem by G T Wellman

Page updated 16th October 2015 (biography of G T Wellman)

Also see Exeter blitz

The following poem was written by G T Wellman, and published in May 1943, the first anniversary of the Exeter blitz. It was privately printed, probably on a Gestetner stencil type duplicator and sold for 3d a copy. The money raised was put towards Exeter's Wings for Victory fund. The poem was written as piece of propaganda, and as a morale raiser, in a Victorian melodrama style. May 1943 was a few months before the first US troops reached the city, in preparation for D-Day. The scan is from a copy owned by Allan H Mazonowicz, who found it tucked in some other papers related to Exeter in the 1950's. I have never come across the poem before, and this may be the first time it has been published since 1943.

George Thomas Wellman

The author George Thomas Wellman was born in New Cross, Surrey in 1899. He and his other siblings were placed in orphanages in and around London, in about 1910. George enlisted in The Royal Berkshire Regiment on 12 May 1915, but due to being Shell Gassed, he was sent home to Blighty on 13 August 1918.

It was during his time in the trenches, that George started writing poems. According to a newspaper article (Express and Echo Newspaper Article about him, dated Tuesday 16 September 1980) , and a piece written by his daughter Peggy (nee Wellman) Lewis, George had written a poem called “The Windy VC”.

Sometime after his discharge from the army George settled in Exeter. He married a local girl called Violet, and they had three daughters in the 1920‘s – Peggy Lewis, Vera J. Capon and Beryl W.D. Goffee. These are their married names.

It was during the Second World War, that George became an Air Raid Warden, and had two of his poems privately published (there maybe more), selling at 3d a time, with proceeds going to The War Effort. ‘This Jewel’ was about the blitz, but he also wrote ‘Salute to a Soldier’. George died in Exeter in 1963.

THIS JEWEL

(Being a tribute to the Citizens of Exeter,
who died as a result of enemy action on
May 4th, 1942)

WE HONOUR THOSE WHO DIED THIS DAY
AS PATRIOTS SIDE BY SIDE,
ON "WING'S OF VICTORY" BORNE AWAY,
INTO THE GREAT DIVIDE.

The night was very peaceful, and before the break of day,
The citizens were sleeping on the fateful fourth of May;
When suddenly, the Sirens broke the stillness of the morn:
The people were awakened to a terrifying dawn.

Then the drone of planes came nearer - like falcons to their prey,
And circled o'er the City, dropping flares to light their way;
We knew that we were chosen, for the "Luftwaffe's" Baedker (sic) Raid,
And we felt a little nervous - of the price that would be paid.

The bombs soon started dropping - with the City all ablaze,
The seconds seemed like hours: and the minutes seemed like days,
They dived to strike the terror, into helpless people's hearts -
But they forgot "we're British," especially 'round these parts.

They gloated the destruction, to them it was mere play -
To terrorise the people and little ones to slay
No military objectives - on which to vent their skill,
Their "Target" was our city, with citizens to kill;

It's part of their "New Order" - we've heard it all before -
To try and break the spirit; they call it "Total War".
We'll take it - and we will repay, they'll find out mighty soon;
That they're heading for disaster, destruction - final doom.

We bow no knee to Hitler - or any of his race -
Nor any other enemy; that we have got to face -
We'll fight these lustful murderers with (Wings for Victory) - Guns,
And crush the bloodstained Nazis, and smash the mailfist Huns.

For there's a day a'coming, when they'll answer for their crimes,
The "Judgement Day of Victory," when the bells ring out their chimes.

G.T.WELLMAN

Price 3d

4th.May, 1943.

(Proceeds will be given to aid Exeter's Wings for Victory Fund)


© 2007 David Cornforth - not to be reproduced without permission

The poem about the blitzI would like to thank Michelle May for the biography of George Wellman. Additional research about George from Norman Sellick, Marianne Bulford Clegg and Pat Follett.

If anyone has any information about George T Wellman, please contact me on the EM email address below.

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