POETRY reflecting the tragedy, loss and acts of courage of the First World War has spanned the past century, from the front line to the present day.

War poetry has given a voice to soldiers in the trenches, behind the lines and in hospitals and convalescent homes, as well as loved ones left behind at home and, in later years, those looking back at the conflict. These poems create vivid snapshots of life – and death – in battle, and of the ongoing struggle to make sense of a war that claimed so many young lives.

Now, to commemorate the centenary of the Great War, the Telegraph & Argus is giving Bradford youngsters the chance to write their own verse, in our World War One children’s poetry competition.

We are launching the competition today – the100th anniversary of the day Britain declared war against Germany – to raise children’s awareness and understanding of the Great War and to encourage literacy among school age children.

The competition, sponsored by Bradford College, will be judged by a panel headed by children’s writer Hilary Robinson, who has written two books about the First World War, aimed at young readers.

The overall winner will win an iPad mini, and each of the winners of the four categories will win a £50 book voucher and a copy of Hilary’s book, Where the Poppies Now Grow. Four runners-up in each category will also receive a copy of the book.

The closing date is Friday, October 17, and the winning entries, along with a selection of other entries, will appear in a special World War One commemoration supplement that will appear in the T&A on November 8, the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday.

Hilary Robinson is an award winning radio producer, broadcaster and the author of more than 40 picture books, including the bestselling Mixed Up Fairy Tales. She produced Private Peaceful for BBC Radio 2, narrated by Robson Green.

Hilary welcomes the T&A competition as a way of enabling the next generation to mark the centenary of the war and develop an understanding of the scale of suffering which was to shape the 20th century world.


She said: “For many soldiers during the First World War writing poetry enabled them to express the raw pain of war in a way that no other creative form did.

“Over time we came to realise that the work of those poets revealed the true reality and tragedy of war – and was in complete contrast to the rallying call of government propaganda which, at times, sold battle as a noble adventure.

“It is a privilege to support the T&A in their inspiring project and, having worked with Bradford libraries, I know just what a wealth of creative talent there is in the city.”



WHERE the Poppies Now Grow takes the idea that veterans were once children, then young men at war, which makes the story resonate with younger readers and helps them engage with a period of history in which millions of lives were lost.

In tribute to the war poets of the time, Hilary has written the book in rhyme. Described as "a celebration of the human condition", it is a powerful, beautifully told and illustrated story of a childhood set against the brutality of war. Hilary and illustrator Martin Impey have dedicated it to their great uncles who both fell at the Somme.

The carefree childhood of Ben and his best friend, Ray, becomes a distant memory when the pair join the Army to serve their country. In the midst of battle, can their friendship survive? 

Admiring their devotion to duty, and deeply aware of the effect that the deaths of their great uncles had on their grandparents' families, Hilary and Martin present a moving story of devoted friendship which is tested by, but survives the tragedy of war. 
"My great uncle died on the tenth day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916 - his body was never found but his sacrifice is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme," said Hilary.
"Martin and I have shared stories handed down from our grandparents and stories which fascinate children of all ages today. This is what inspired us. We wanted to contribute to the centenary in the best way we know how."

Martin Impey works in illustration, design, film, advertising and marketing. Passionate about military history, he illustrated Michael Morpurgo's novel War Horse for Oxford University Press. 

In Where the Poppies Now Grow, his artwork captures the essence of the war period, the innocence of childhood and the courage of those in battle.

He said: "My great uncle was killed on October 9, 1916 at the Battle of the Somme. He was just 19-years-old. His grave was unknown to the family until I researched him about 15 years ago. It was an incredibly moving experience to visit the cemetery and be the first member of the family to lay a wreath of poppies on his grave since 1916." 

The sequel to Where the Poppies Now Grow is The Christmas Truce - The Place Where Peace Was Found, due to be published in October. 

The book is set on Christmas Eve, 1914 when a group of tired soldiers start singing Stille Nacht, leading soldiers on the other side of No Man’s Land to respond with Silent Night. The next day, German and British soldiers put down their guns and join in a game of football to celebrate the spirit of Christmas Day. 

In tribute to that remarkable moment in history when, for one day, peace found a place, the book continues the story of best friends Ben and Ray, who shake hands in friendship with Karl and Lars. 

Also written in rhyme, the book marks the centenary of the 1914 Christmas Truce this year and introduces primary school age children to this extraordinary moment in history.