In this look back, we examine a series of poems from David Kenny, a British reporter embedded with 2nd Panzergrenadier Division’s 4th Battalion in 1985, written during his time as a POW in East Germany. The poems, entitled “Sonnets of defeat”, describe the fall and capture of 4th Battalion, and Kenny himself, during the battle for Ruhr.
Rockets, a screech amongst the rolling din,
As sunrise cutting through the morning sky,
No evasion, ‘nout caught by pilot’s eye,
Down, the airborn vessel forced, with its kin.
Thunderous clacking, tanks advancing in,
Their ungodly cannons turn to face I,
A flash and heat from behind, shots sail high,
Only fumes and flame where Marders had been.
What fate had they cursed upon their armour?
A racket of fizzing and hulls ablaze,
The forest alight, shelled from Commie guns.
And what use were the flanking scouts, what for?
Caught exposed in the field, chance not to faze
The war machine, fuelled by veteran’s sons.
Thumping, attended by grey gassy hail,
Billows of smoke, a signal of advice
From mortars at the rear, a cover device
Spread thin, an opportunity to bail.
“The clocktower! Hurry!” the Germans wail,
Stumbling in panic, scale walls like mice,
“Too late, head down!” the machine-gun would splice
Our troop in two. Act slow and surely fail.
Afar in the square, grenadiers sneak low,
Lie in ambush, engine rev is the tell
To attack, miss, fury returned in kind.
Hulking metal again, trundling slow,
Encroach the castle and unleash lead hell
On our brothers, witnessed those left behind.
Amidst the ringing, comms. crack to life,
Eastward our recon creeped on pummelled ground
Meeting heedless Geckos, their station found
and silenced with the clap of vengeful strife.
A minute victory, bound in the rife
Dead, men’s thoughts of retribution drowned
all fear as they stood up, launching aloud
their weapons, sliced fleeing cars like a knife.
The sky roared once more, saviours from above,
Their volatile rain unleashed with a shriek,
Cleaving through the once mighty iron horde.
A cruel mistress, lady luck shows no love,
All was done, ammo spent, we chanced a peek,
Pointed at our neck, the honed Russian sword.