1943: We’ve never found anywhere like it on earth

Gerald C. White served in Italy during World War 2 and while there he composed a poem about Kingston and the surrounding area.

We are grateful to his daughter Margaret King neé White for giving us permission to reproduce it below.

O peaceful hamlet nestling there
Under the crest of yonder hill,
What memories dear you bring to me’
Sweet memories that linger still.

I think, maybe, of lofty Swyre,
With its purple patch of heather bright,
And its glorious view of land and sea,
From Portland Bill to the Isle of Wight.

Of Kimmeridge Bay with its squat watch tower,
With Gad Cliff beyond, in the shimmering haze,
And Smedmore hiding ‘mong the trees there,
Where I’ve spent many pleasant Saturdays.

Then, gazing eastward t’ward the vale,
Of Encombe, lying far below,
The tree-cald slopes and meadows green,
What a peaceful scene in these days of woe.

Then beyond again, where the Egmont Cliffs,
Reach out to meet the Channel tide,
And the craggy height of St Albans Head,
Standing strong and bold on the other side.

Of Chapman’s Pool, just beyond our view,
Where we spent pour childhood holidays,
Of the rock-strewn shore so deserted now,
But alive with vivid yesterdays.

Further still, the spire of Worth’s ancient church,
And the tiny village of Purbeck stone,
With the snow-white cliffs of Ballard Down,
Where “Old Harry” keeps his watch alone.

Then, turning north east I can plainly see,
The beginning of Branksome’s lovely chine,
Then the Isle of Brownsea in the harbour of Poole,
Where B. P. And his scouts camped the very first time.

The line of the Purbecks runs straight ‘cross my view,
From Ballard and Nine Barrow Down to the east,
To Corfe’s ruined Castle, where an ancient Brave Dame
Fought bravely, till gunpowder ended the siege.

Then westward again where the Barrow of Creech
Has the village of Knowle nestling under its breast,
And beyond,in the distance, where Flower Barrow’s tip
Looks on Lulworth, whose cove is the nicest and best.

Strolling back along the hillside,
And into the road at London Doors,
Now bereft of tourist traffic,
Till blessed peace comes to our shores.

Leaving Orchard Hill behind us,
Through field of corn, or furrowed earth,
Thence thro’ wood of elm and ash trees,
And so the village of my birth.

As I walk through the clean and tidy streets,
What memories dear are here portrayed,
With school chums trundling iron hoops,
From the blacksmith’s shop where they were made.

Mem’ries of Guy Fawkes night returning,
The “Cross” with a bonfire blazing high,
While children’s laughter still re-echoes,
Thro’s the crimson flow of the evening sky.

The old village pump still stands alone,
In the midst of the quiet village street,
It was our mainstay in days of drought,
And where, as lads, we used to meet.

I gaze on the church’s beautiful tower,
And hear, in my dreams, its lovely bells,
Ringing out their message of gladness,
To Purbeck folk o’er hills and vales.

Many an hour I have spent in that tower,
And looked from the top on the view far and near,
And have sat in the belfry watching the ringers,
On the eve and dawn of another New Year.

Sweet memories too of the lofty chancel,
Of friends in the choir stalls at morning and night,
Of the happy hours I’ve spent by the organ,
List’ning to music, forever so bright.

Mem’ries of my happy wedding,
And of my bride in radiant white,
And the christ’ning of our baby daughter,
On a cold day in Spring, the dear little mite.

Then the old village school where I learnt as a youngster,
With “Awlward” beyond where we played in the hay,
Where we jumped and races and scrambled for biscuits,
And the village turned out on our annual Treat Day.

When the old village Band played at night for the dancing,
On the lawn in the twilight and out in the Square,
Now popping inside the “Scott Arms” for a “bitter”,
Till merriment rose on the sweet summer air.

Mem’ries still green of the old Recreation Room,
Keen games of billiards, snooker, and darts,
With the pals that are now scattered over the Universe,
Some day we’ll meet again, joy in our hearts.

Now my thoughts still stray on, up the steep “Knapp of Matthe”,
To the turf of the sports ground on the hill top at “Drawn”’
Where we fought many “battles of cricket and football,
And have made many friends in the Pavilion.

Of the old village shop where I bought my first “sweeties”,
And fetched jugs of milk for the family store,
Thoughts of choristers’ suppers and Sunday school parties,
With a Christmas tree later and crackers galore.

And memories, too, of the “Hall” on the turnpike,
Converted, for social events manifold,
Thoughts of Whist Drives and Dances and Amateur Drama,
And the broadcast of Hardy’s “Three Strangers of Old”.

Of rambles to Bradle and Orchard and Willwood,
Of that dear little cottage in which I was born,
Of the blackberries, hazelnuts, chestnuts and flowers,
Which we sought for, and found, in this valley of our’n.

I think of my home, in the Lane round the corner,
Of think of my wife who’s waiting so bravely for me,
And my mother who’s thinking forever about me,
And my five year old daughter just chuckling with glee.

These are some of my thoughts, and the thoughts too of others,
Not so far away from the place of our birth,
But, wherever we’ve travelled, through Afric’ or Europe,
We’ve never found anywhere like it on earth.

G. C. White

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