Touching poem to mark Battle of the Somme wins Northampton School For Boys pupil an award

Jacob Benhayoun
Jacob Benhayoun
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A Year 9 NSB student has won a prize in a poetry competition launched by the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Jacob Benhayoun, aged 13, was put forward for this competition by his English teacher and won the KS3 category of the competition.

Jacob wrote a poem about a tree that became a poignant symbol of hope during the Battle of the Somme - one of the defining events of the First World War.

The hornbeam tree was the only one left standing in Delville Wood, in Longueval, northern France, after the area was flattened during two months of heavy fighting, nearly 100 years ago.

As part of the prize the school has been privileged to be given a tree sapling propagated from one of the remaining hornbeam trees that was left after the battle of the Somme and so is of extreme importance. We will now look forward to a tree-planting ceremony, along with a plaque commemorating what it symbolises.

Jacob was one of only 100 students to win a tree and as only 30 secondary schools have won a tree this is an amazing achievement.

"My teacher put us through to the competition and I was really surprised to win. I did not think English was one of my best subjects but this has made me want to take the subject further" said Jacob.

Jacob's poem is below:

"The last witness stood over the floor of what was thriving woodland,

What was lush green and beautiful was destroyed and had become a desolate wasteland,

The place which was the hornbeam’s castle of green,

Was destroyed by a war when they could not intervene,

In a battle which was not theirs to fight,

The trees were destroyed by men, who obliterated without right,

As bodies were abandoned and the stench of blood filled the air,

Soldiers were left by their enemies, who did not give a care,

But still stood strong a single hornbeam,

Who suffered from all of the violence which it had seen,

After witnessing the barbarity caused by many tank drivers,

This tree, it can be said, is the final survivor."