My husband Phil and I were privileged to join some of the members of the Royal Engineers Association, Dundee Branch to pay a visit to the war graves in Belgium on the 100th. anniversary of the end of the 1st World War. Following the visit I thought about the role of many women at that time who waited at home powerless to do anything directly for their loved ones. And how such a mother, would feel about her son expressing a wish to join up.
To that end, I’ve penned a wee poem and, in it, I’m thinking particularly of a Dundee Mother.
Last night I made a decision tae join the engineers
But first I had tae speak to my Maw, just tae allay her fears
Ye want tae be a sapper then ye daft heided loon
I’ll tell ye what ye’ll be dayin so just sit yersel doon.
Ye’ll be marching, saluting, standing to attention,
Bullin yer boots till ye see yer reflection
Saluting the sergeant and getting a bollocking
Then down the local for a wee bit o’ frolickin
Ye’ll drink yer mates under the table.
Then try to get a lass,,,,,, if yer able.
Does that sound good to ye son.
But a’ these shenanigans have a price
And it’s sometimes the way that they toss the dice
Yer Faither was a sapper ye see joined with his mate Peter, baith fae Dundee
Soon they were on their way to France
They intended to set Adolf a merry dance
Despatched onto the beach with much bravado and guile
looking out for each other all the while
a shower of bullets put paid to that
and Peter was down with a rat tat tat
Son, one of the reasons that I’m telling this story
Just so ye know, it’s no all glory
It’s hard graft maist o’ the time
And you’ve got to learn how to tow the line
But you’ll work as a team and make friends for life
Being careful to keep out o’ the trouble and strife
“So off ye go lad but remember this. You’re no too big for a right sloppy kiss. …come here”
Shirley Gibson 20.02.2020 copyright