The forgotten battlefield poet whose verse ‘spat out shrapnel’

Keith Douglas: Tank commander in the Second World War desert campaign in North Africa

Three days after the D-day landings in June 1944, Capt Keith Douglas’s armoured unit was stranded on high ground overlooking Tilly-sur-Suelles in Normandy. Leaving his tank to carry out a reconnaisance, he was killed by German mortar fire. He was 24.

Douglas is known mainly, but not widely, as a war poet, although most of his poetry was written before going…