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I was busy on Sunday oganising a lunch for my mother’s 80th birthday party. It wasn’t until some relatives, who had come from the other side of Glasgow, remarked that they’d seen the remembrance parade in George Square when changing trains that I “remembered” it was remembrance Sunday.

I reflected that I had the luxury of forgetting such a thing.


War graves at Flanders

When I was growing up there were plenty of veterans of the Great War to tell the horrific tales of what was suffered by the soldiers who fought in it. Death and injury of  countless men to gain a twenty yard advantage over the enemy, shell shock, shooting men with trauma and stress.

My own grandfather, having lied about his age, fought in the trenches at 16 years of age.

The last British soldier from the first world war died earlier this year.

A friend emailed at the weekend and asked if I’d be blogging about Remembrance Sunday and suggested one of the songs listed below but I didn’t get the email until Monday.

If you have a few moments, listen to these two songs written and performed by Scots/Australian songwriter Eric Bogle. As with the contemporary poetry of the likes of Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen, Bogle’s songs can sometimes be just too miserable to bear.

They are certainly not the kind of thing one would listen to for inspiration on a sunny day.

However the words of these songs contain more incisive thought about war and humanity than anyone could otherwise cram into thirteen minutes.

I can’t begin to imagine the worry, tragedy, pain and grief being experienced currently by soldiers and their families in Iraq and Afghanistan but perhaps it will be much the same as that suffered in any war.

Like the war to end all wars.

The armistice treaty for which came into effect at 11am (Paris time) 91 years ago today.

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6 Responses

  1. Very moving, Rab.
    My great grandfather’s name is on the memorial in Hermitage Park. What brought home the scale of the carnage was when I did a search on the war graves website, which produced scores of search results for the same surname.
    In St Albans each street has a small memorial with the respective names of the fallen from each street.

    Please pass on my regards and many happy returns to your Mum. She was blogging long before you were. Regularly she would give us little chats on topical events first thing in the morning in the class room, including sporting events. Her summary on Dumbarton’s heroic league cup semi was, by far, head and shoulders above Messrs McGinlay, Archer, Cameron etc ‘s efforts. It was after then that a regular dozen of her pupils used to catch the 13.47 train from Craigendoran every home match day.

  2. Thanks Jim

    The fact that every village and hamlet has a war memorial tells the story of the effect these events had. Anyone who isn’t moved by these songs really should pause for thought.

    You’re not the only one of my mum’s former pupils to visit these parts. There’s me! and Ferncake too.

    At the time of the game you mention, you were as I recall in primary 5 (my mum’s class) and I was in primary seven. Until that time I was actually only vaguely aware Dumbarton had a team. However, because of you all my family converted to the Sons and we all went to the two games against Celtic. As I recall we took you to one or both of the games because your dad was away on a ship at the time.

    I’ll pass on your regards.

  3. You took me to the replay on the Monday night. The first game on the Wednesday night, I was forced to go to 2nd Helensburgh Boy’s Brigade. My mother said it was my duty.
    The only home game in 71-72 I missed, was the 7-1 game against Alloa. On that particular day I was dragged to the Helensburgh Operatic Society’s “Oklahoma” in the matinee performance at the Victoria Hall, (a venue I believe you are familiar with !). She has redeemed herself over the years, sending me press cuttings of the Sons to places like Hiroshima, Panama, Tampa, Dubai, Halifax etc. She phoned me at four in the morning in China when Scotland won in Paris. Sadly, I have two brothers, one son and one nephew, that follow Brother Walfrid’s charity XI, and sometimes I receive erroneous texts pertaining to their fortunes, which I delete. (Both my grandfathers will be turning in their graves.)
    Do you remember going to the Spring Cup semi at Firhill on the old underground ?

  4. Jim

    I’m conscious of how a posting about remembrance has gravitated to Dumbarton FC, The BBs and Helensburgh Operatic Society!
    That said I remember the Spring Cup semi against Clydebank and Davie Cooper (1977?). St Georges Cross subway and a walk up Maryhill Rd.
    You have an altogether better memory than me about specifics but I remember being at many games with you.
    Hope the foot is better soon!

  5. Ben-Lo,

    The year of the (one-off) Spring Cup was 1976, and the semi–final defeat from Clydebank at Firhill featured a highly uncharacteristic error by Lawrie Williams when he allowed an aimless drooping cross from right-back Norrie Hall to drify behind him into the net.

    Sons of course also reached the Scottish Cup semis that year, and it’s interesting to note that under the rules applying at that time if we had overcome Hearts we would have qualified for the old Cup-Winners Cup by dint of Finalists Rangers being League Champions. Locomotive Leipzig would have been our guests, sadly the exotica of Silverton at night was denied them.

    Please say ‘hello’ and ‘Happy Birthday’ to your Mum, Ben-Lo.

  6. Fencake,

    I feel Silverton in the seventies could perhaps have been compared to East Germany, including a few women who could have perhaps swung a hammer or lifted a formidable weight.

    It could have been, but not by me of course!

    I have of course passed on your and Jim’s good wishes which gave the old girl a wee boost.

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