The Customs Officer Relents


The Customs Officer Relents
Grandma and dad took me to France one summer
We walked along the beach that June,
Grandma found three unspent rifle bullets,
A fork and a old discarded spoon.

We saw the special commemoration,
A memorial to the fallen in the war,
That the Queen Mum on a frigate came to open,
For those who lost their lives by Dunkirk’s shore.

Grandma used a box for her mementos,
In cotton-wool she had them safely wrapped,
But a Customs Officer in Dover stopped her,
Saying sternly “You can not bring those back.”

Grandma said “My Robert was a gunner,
Sadly he had never learned to swim,
He was with his troop escaping in the water,
When suddenly that was the last of him.”

“Three who were there came by my house to tell me.
They said that he had nearly made it home.
One minute he was there but then we lost him,
Something happened and he slipped beneath the foam.”

My dad explained that these were her mementos,
Of her son whom she had lost during the war,
Then the officer relented, he closed the box again
Gently gave it back, and said no more!

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This Poems Story

In 1957 Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, sailed across to Dunkirk in a Naval frigate to commemorate the opening of a memorial to the 4700 soldiers, sailors and airmen and the private citizens who sailed across the Channel to rescue the evacuees. Twelve years after the end of the war the beaches were still strewn with the wreckage.