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Like Swallows Returning

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 I’ve always been a true Blues’ fan I’ve watched the mighty play

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 Vic Woodley and ‘Wee’ Gallagher all heroes in my day

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 At Christmas ’37 i stil recall the time

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 when Charlton’s legend Bartram stood rooted to his line

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 the fog swept in acoss the ‘Bridge’ as thick as soup it rolled

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 though teams and fans had long since gone poor Sam was never told

7 Leave a comment on verse 7 0 how swift my life was turned around with War so soon declared

8 Leave a comment on verse 8 0 I wondered as we left these shores if my life would be spared

9 Leave a comment on verse 9 0 I found myself in ‘Hell-on-Earth’ imprisoned in some cage

10 Leave a comment on verse 10 0 no man could ever quite describe those depths on printed page

11 Leave a comment on verse 11 0 denied of nature life itself a number lost forlorn

12 Leave a comment on verse 12 0 my heart a seed now ravaged my body racked and torn

13 Leave a comment on verse 13 0 I battled on and clutched so tight those snapshots to my breast

14 Leave a comment on verse 14 0 but never dreamed I’d see my home when all around lay death

15 Leave a comment on verse 15 0 yet when my leg was all but gone and splinters turned it green

16 Leave a comment on verse 16 0 the swallows found their way inside that dreadful prison scene

17 Leave a comment on verse 17 0 and while I lay abandoned there in agony and pain

18 Leave a comment on verse 18 0 those wondrous birds came back each year to lift my soul again

19 Leave a comment on verse 19 0 and through it all with fading hopes my strength now all but drained

20 Leave a comment on verse 20 0 their bravery encouraged me and trust and hope remained

21 Leave a comment on verse 21 0 I could not stand but wept aloud the day our freedom came

22 Leave a comment on verse 22 0 degraded lost with years of toil in stench and loss and shame

23 Leave a comment on verse 23 0 alll dazed confused my being bruised we landed on this shore

24 Leave a comment on verse 24 0 like swallows now returning I glimpsed my home once more

25 Leave a comment on verse 25 0 a frightened man I crept through streets like foxes in some field

26 Leave a comment on verse 26 0 and wondered would I ever feel the way I used to feel

27 Leave a comment on verse 27 0 to my surprise against my will I found myself again

28 Leave a comment on verse 28 0 inside that ground with thousands to see that mighty game

29 Leave a comment on verse 29 0 I’ve always been a true Blues’ fan I’d watched the mighty play

30 Leave a comment on verse 30 0 but never thought within that camp I’d live to see the day

31 Leave a comment on verse 31 0 like swallows and the flowers in Spring those metaphors of life

32 Leave a comment on verse 32 0 are etched here deep within me still they keep my faith alive

Written as part of the Chelsea FC Education Through Football Project.
Inspired by hearing about Joe (a Chelsea pensioner) and also how swallows acted as symbols of hope during the last War. I’ve also listed more info below and a short poem which was introduced to me by Peter Daniel of Westminster Archives & Libraries..

“Hope and courage were born on the wing-tips
And burst in music on dying men
Who know that the tide flows on in glory
Because of the swallows of Ruheiliegen.”

Poet notes:
During the War,despite the best efforts of the guards,swallows returned each year to many a concentration camp, bringing hope and courage to imprisoned soldiers.This poem is loosely based on a remarkable true story.I’ve taken the liberty of preserving the true image and metaphor of swallows, who would return to many German concentration camps each year, as there wouldn’t necessarily have been swallows in Burma. (Do correct me if I’m wrong please !)
Joe Cuselle ,now a Chelsea Pensioner in his eighties, was a loyal Chelsea fan in the 30’s and never missed a game .Right up to the start of the 2nd World War in 1939 he stood in the Shed cheering on his heroes.

He was at the thick fog Chelsea v Charlton game when Charlton’s goalie Sam Bartram was left on the pitch with the game abandoned..for some twenty minutes! Taken prisoner right at the start of the War ,he spent all of those awful long years imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp.He was forced to work in Burma constructing the famous Bridge On The River Kwai.
When a bamboo splinter left him unable to work he was literally dumped in a hole and left for dead.All hope of seeing home and his family (and his beloved Chelsea ) was fading. In the same way that the swallows returning to German concentration camps in the War and in Billy The Kid gave hope to soldiers .., to remind Joe of his home, he clung to pictures of his family and somehow keep them clean.He still has them with him to this day .When liberation came Joe was flown home and finally recovered. Like many,left in a deep state of trauma ,and barely able to cope with ‘normal life’ and trying to come to terms with supposed ‘normal life’, he was swept up in a an emotional tide.He found himself somehow, at the memorable Moscow Dynamo game on Nov 1945, 3 months after the war ended. Today Joe is a regular guest at the Bridge again and was one of the guard of honour as Chelsea were presented with the Championship trophy.Something , along with retaining alive, and of course the 1955 trophy which he was also present at , that he never could have imagined witnessing in his most wildest dreams – back in that POW camp..

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/like-swallows-returning/