This year, we have chosen Verity, by Drummond Allison.
Allison was born in Caterham and he lived in Kenley when he was commissioned into the East Surreys in 1942.
In peacetime, Allison had been a great cricket lover, a regular attendee at The Oval. On active service in the invasion of Italy, Allison found himself serving alongside one of his sporting heroes, the Yorkshire and England bowler, Hedley Verity. Captain Verity was injured in action, was taken prisoner and died soon after in a POW camp. Allison’s Verity is his tribute.
Short weeks later, on December 2, 1943 – 70 years ago next month – Allison himself was killed in action in Garigliano. Allison was 22 years old.
The ruth and truth you taught have come full circle
On that fell island all whose history lies,
Far now from Bramhall Lane and far from Scarborough
You recollect how foolish are the wise.
On this great ground more marvellous than Lord’s
– Time takes more spin than nineteen thirty four –
You face at last that Bradman-shaming
Batsman whose cuts obey no natural law.
Run up again, as gravely smile as ever,
Veer without fear your left unlucky arm
In His so dark direction, but no length
However lovely can disturb the harm
That is His style, defer the winning drive
Or shake the crowd from their uproarious calm.