WE WILL REMEMBER THEM
Its Remembrance Day. To some a controversial subject. Many brave men went to do their duty, many didnt return, and of those who did return many were never the same again. Both my Grandfathers fought in World War I. Sanny went to France and was gassed, but he survived. He also somehow made it to Paris at some point. My maternal Grandfather, Gaggie went to Galipolli. He was a born soldier, yet even he was horrified by what he saw. He was so moved he used the notebook the army gave him to right down what he saw. He tells of sitting on the beach, shells raining down around him, while he held a young officer as he lay on the beach dying. Powerful stuff. I adored both these men in equal measure. They were very different characters and the effect the war had on them was quite different. Sanny, he hated war, he hated the army, he hated anyone in authority. To the point where he bitterly complained when I joined the Guides, ‘Never put a uniform on hen’ he told me ‘It’ll lead to nothing but grief’. He was a strange character wis Sany, smoked like a chimney, wi a cough that sounded like his lungs were rasped wi sandpaper. He drank like a fish, many a time me and my cousin were sent to the off liscence at ‘Tates’ to ask the man behind the bar ‘gawnie tell ma Granda ma Granny says his dinners goin in the fire if he disnae come up the stairs the noo’. He was downtrodden at home, Bella was a formidable wummin. But he stuck firm to his beliefs, there is no such thing as a good war.
Gaggie was different, a seargent major of a man, with cotton wool for heart. He continued to be in the TA until the end of the second world war. He loved all the pomp and ceremony. He also loved a ‘position’ in life. To such an extent that he stole the job as ‘air raid warden’ when the family moved from the Gallowgate to Sandyhills. The reason being that the man who had volunteered wasnt up to the job as he found him in the street one night incorrectly dressed. Aye, Wee Cruikshank had the cheek to be out on patrol without his ARP Helmet, sheese, he gave him a roastin, and then pinched the job. (To be honest I hear Cruikshank was quite glad to relinquish, it being November and the frosts comin in) Gaggie relished my exploits in the uniformed organisations and proudly boasted in the 70’s, to his pals on the Isle of Man where he then lived if I was in parade.
Then there was the love of my life, Daddy. He, like his two brothers joined the Navy in World War II. And hated every moment of it. My father was a boxer, an incredible character, but deep down as soft as candy floss. Too soft. A character I have inherited from him. The war brutalised him, there is no other way about it. He returned with stomach ulcers which were never healed until the 80’s by which time he had the same heart condition as me.
Despite all these different men, with their different opinions of war and the services, they all encouraged us to be part of the Remembrance. So, today I will Remember…those men I know of and those I dont. For those of today and those of the past. No matter political opinion, or leanings towards pacifism, they did not ask to go, but went they did anyway. We owe it to them and the future generations, if we dont the consequences of forgetting are unthinkable. LEST WE FORGET.