Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Sunday Posts 2012/mask

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Paul Laurence Dunbar
Photo by Alistair

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Sunday Posts 2012/Cloths of heaven

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

William Butler Yeats
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

They did grandly and all that men can do.........

Like many millions the world over I stopped a moment to stand with quiet respect in memory of those who sacrificed in conflicts around the world. As I always do on this day I thought on my Grandfather as his life was the only one within my knowing blighted by the horror of war, although when I knew him I was very young and was prevented from truly understanding his experience by a family protective of me and I now see with an adults understanding, even more protective of him.

Sam Robertson enlisted in The Royal Scots Fusiliers early 1915 and on completing basic training was sent to a place called Gallipoli. He and his 900 comrades were immediately put in the front line and within ten days 480 of them were dead. Months later he and what was left of his battalion were evacuated. Half of the men were sent to Palestine. The rest, including my Grandfather were sent to The Somme. One unfortunate who's experience encompassed two places now synonimous with carnage and the hellish brutality of war.

From a history of the regiment written by John Buchan.

July 26th. The attack on Guillemont.

"The attack was delivered by the 89th and 90th brigades and in the latter was the Manchester regiment and the Royal Scots Fusiliers. The Fusiliers assembled just east of Trones Wood, an indifferent jumping off ground - with D company in trenches north of Guillemont/Trones Wood road, A and B companies were south of the road and C in an improvised trench near to D. The frontage of the battalion was about two hundred and sixty yards.

The attack started at 4.45am and almost from the first things went wrong. The Manchesters were late in starting. Colonel Walsh was to move forward in support with the Fusiliers battalion headquarters and two companies of the 16th Manchesters but the two companies never appeared, and communication with the first wave very soon became impossible. Meanwhile the Scots Fusiliers had made straight for their objective, but the advance on both their flanks halted, and presently they were a lone spearhead without support. There was a heavy enemy barrage on the east front of Trones Wood and the Guillemont Rd was swept by machine guns. It would appear that D company and about one third of A company reached the east side of Guillemont village and that B and C companies were on the western face. The commander of D company Lt. Murray, forced his way back to headquarters about noon to say that without immediate support the battalion would be cut off. He himself had been right through the village. But there were no adequate reserves available and soon nothing could move and live on the ground between Trones Wood and Guillemont. Everywhere, except in the Scots Fusiliers sector, the attack had failed, and the battalion had to pay the price for its lonely glory. Colonel Walsh could do nothing but hold the trenches east of Trones Wood until relieved on 1st of August.

The Royal Scots went into action with 20 officers and 750 men. Of these 3 officers and 40 others, chiefly headquarters staff, remained with Colonel Walsh at the close of the day, and later less than 100 others dribbled back through another brigade. The rest of the battalion were dead, wounded or captured. Total losses were 633 men.

The division commander wired to Colonel Walsh during that day 'I cannot tell you how grieved I am for the loss of your splendid battalion and above all for those still left in Guillemont. They did grandly and all that men could do'

The scanty remains of the battalion moved north on 11 August to Bethune, where for two months while it regained it strength it stayed in a relatively quiet part of the front."

In some three years in front line service my Grandfather went 'over the top'  on several major offensives, survived being shot three times and was returned to the trenches on recovery each time. He came home suffering from what we now call post traumatic stress disorder. In his day it was called the less technical but probably more accurate name of 'shell shock'. When I knew him he was completely bedridden and could barely speak. He shook constantly. Cared for within the family, my job was to shave him which is why I remember him so very clearly and so fondly. He died in 1968 when I was nine having suffered for more than fifty years.

The tragedy of war is that it affects not only individuals but families and communities. The effects last generations.

see you later.

Listening to:

The Sunday Posts 2012/Remembrance Day

This weeks poem is dedicated to the memory of the fallen, the departed and those who suffer the effect of war regardless of nationality.

Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

Alfred Edward Houseman

Sam Robertson.   Royal Scots Fusiliers 1915-1918
Thomas Hughes.  Royal Flying Corps   1914-1918
Sam Robertson.    Bomber Command.   1944-1945

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Sunday Posts 2012/ You who sleep alone

All You Who Sleep Tonight

All you who sleep tonight
Far from the ones you love,
No hand to left or right
And emptiness above -

Know that you aren't alone
The whole world shares your tears,
Some for two nights or one,
And some for all their years.

Vikram Seth
Photo by Alistair.

The Sunday Posts 2017/Mince and Tatties.

Mince and Tatties I dinna like hail tatties Pit on my plate o mince For when I tak my denner I eat them baith at yince. Sae mash ...