Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

January MGWAT


Recommended Posts

As it is a New Year, I thought this might be a suitable topic for everybody to have a go at.

(Currently sheltering in the spare room as my wife attacks the house with vacuum cleaner and duster and the cats have gone out to enjoy themselves in the drizzle rather than endure the noise and upheaval).

While thinking about a topic, I wrote this:

New beginnings

The old khaki hangs in the wardrobe

With the brasses tarnished and dulled.

The chevrons and battle patches faded,

And the boots they are no longer bulled.

My civvie clothes all pressed and ironed

Are what I am wearing now.

With a reminder of my martial glory;

Three ribbons of medals, one row.

And a metal badge “For King & Country”

For the wound that I suffered, still sore....

Now it’s time to look to the future

But not forget what has been before.

So, I’ll go back to my job as a grocer,

Weighing out the cheese, sugar and tea.

And return to our rooms in the evening

Where my lovely girl’s waiting for me.

But nothing’s the same as it was then,

Before Kaiser Bill upset the cart.

And I donned the garb of a soldier

And from my lovely girl I had to part.

I lost many friends and companions

And our family are fewer this year.

But the brother and cousins who perished

Are still held in our hearts so dear.

So now we’ve a New Year, a new start,

To build our lives and dreams once again.

So let’s drink to the future together

And sing the old midnight refrain:

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot................ “

© Tony Nutkins 2011

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Happy New Year Squirrel.

Nice peice or poetry.For those who returned. I noticed you come from West London,I used to live in Hammersmith, how far away are you?

Best Regards Andy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Happy New Year everybody! Great to see that MGWAT is still live and kicking :) Good suggestion... I feel an idea coming up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Happy New Year Squirrel.

Nice peice or poetry.For those who returned. I noticed you come from West London,I used to live in Hammersmith, how far away are you?

Best Regards Andy

Thanks for your comments Andy and a Happy New Year to you - I used to live in Shepherds Bush near the Police Station -now in Northolt about 10 miles or so away from Hammersmith.

Happy New Year Lands - hope to see your idea soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"New Beginnings", eh? Just cries out for a John and Marie episode...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes indeed!

Ideas are forming, but not quite gelled yet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, here it is. Lucky John.

A bright September sun shone on John's back as he trudged along the road, carrying, for the first time in three years, only a haversack. He had left the rest of his web equipment with the battalion. He carried no weapon.

Everything had happened so quickly, he thought to himself. A sudden summons from his Captain, who smiled wearily and said, "It's come through at last – your discharge." Then mounds of forms in the orderly room to be filled out. "We had to borrow some from the British Army; I'm not sure we even have half these forms." He acknowledged that he was requesting to be discharged in France, and that he waived the right to be returned to Canada. He filled out a "Protection Form" which warned that it was not valid as security for debt. Who was being protected, he wondered. The Captain must have read his thoughts. "Keep that safe", he cautioned. "It's your way of proving you're not a deserter. The Paymaster had him sign his accounts, and handed him his final pay. The Quartermaster checked off John's kit, and reluctantly let him keep his uniform and a haversack, but not his greatcoat and other equipment.

He'd been lucky to find an MT lorry going to Arras. From there he was sure he could find his way back to Marie's village. If the rain held off he should be alright.

He spent the first night in a barn, convincing the farmer's wife that he was a. not a deserter, and b. he would not start any fires. In the morning a few centimes got him a mug of coffee and a croissant; a few more, a couple of baguettes from the small bakery in town. He continued on his way west.

Soon his practised eye began picking out familiar buildings. He was getting close now. There was the hill that he had run up with Marie so many months ago. The hill where Marie had first kissed him. The little calvaire where he and Marie had prayed before he left.

He looked for Marie's family farmhouse. He couldn't see it.

Of course - Marie had told him that it had been rebuilt. A new, larger house stood in its place, almost finished. Beyond, the fields were green with ripening crops.

He walked towards the door.

And suddenly there was Marie, with a baby in her arms, bouncing it gently and singing a French lullaby that John vaguely remembered his mother singing when he was little and having trouble going to sleep. Her back was turned to him,

She heard his footstep, and turned slowly, so as not to disturb the drowsy infant.

"Jean!" It was a low, excited whisper.

"Come and meet your son Pierre; his brother Edouard is already asleep."

As I wrote this I remembered my great-aunt's story of how my great uncle arrived home. He was discharged from the 166th Bn. probably at Camp Borden, with a train back to Toronto. As equipment was scarce, he was discharged (in December) wearing only a sweater over his uniform shirt and pants. Unfortunately he had no way of letting her know he was on his way, and she had gone out to the cinema with a friend. He spent several miserable hours sitting on the front porch while it rained.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michael - nice story - short and to the point.

Lands - very evocative take on the subject - excellent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michael - nice story - short and to the point.

Lands - very evocative take on the subject - excellent.

I think it's one of my longer ones!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Still a few days to go Gunboat - put it out of your mind for the time being and it will come back to you when you least expect it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Katherine was curled up in bed, still asleep after a very long, hard night duty, when Elizabeth arrived back from theatre, pushed her way through the tent flaps and stood vigorously rubbing her chapped hands on her frozen cheeks. She was just trying to decide whether it was too cold to take her coat off when she heard Matron's raised voice approaching.

"This cannot happen again nurse."

"No Matron."

"You know the appearance of my nurses is of paramount importance to the professional running of this hospital."

"Yes, Matron. It won't happen again Matron."

"I certainly think not."

As Adelaide stooped and entered the tent Elizabeth dropped onto her bed and stretched out flat on her back with her arms spread wide; a picture of exhaustion. "So what did you do?"

"Oh, when I ran back because that ambulance had just arrived I didn't remove my cuffs and now they're all soiled."

"Oh for goodness sake, I doubt the patients would ever notice. They're just relieved to be in a proper ward in the care of a smiling face."

"No, she was right. We're always so short of water, with it being below freezing so much of the time, that I should have taken more care. I've caused unnecessary washing."

"Well I can't share your way of looking at it and anyway as it's more or less all over now I'm sure it hardly matters. Tell me, what are you going to do when you get home?"

"What am I going to do? Sleep for a week I think. No, I'll eat and then sleep for a week. No, I'll take a bath, eat, sleep, take another bath and then sleep for a week! Will we ever be free of the smell of lysol, damp bedclothes, mud and blood, do you think? But after that I'm coming back. I'm coming back to France."

Elizabeth's head jerked up from the bed..... "You're doing what!"

"I'm coming back to help at that orphanage for French children I told you about; the one my two cousins are running. They are desperate for help these days because so many homeless families are knocking on their door. What about you?"

"Well....,well I have a secret but I suppose it's safe to talk to you about it. Please don't mention it to any one else though, will you." She lowered her head and whispered "As soon as Major Stenton is discharged he and I are to be married and then...." She was cut short.

"Goodness Elizabeth!! You kept that very secret. How did you manage that? Matron has eyes like a hawk and she can see the sort of detail the rest of the human race needs a microscope to see."

"Well I can't say it was easy but it was so important not to jeopardise his future career that it just had to be done. He'll work part time at his old hospital and in his free time he's going to start a mother and baby clinic in our house. I'll work for him and we think we'll be able to offer an almost free service to those in real need as neither of us will require wages."

"But you can't work after you're married. That just wouldn't be the done thing."

"Yes I can. Married women have been working in place of men for years now. The whole world has changed and we're part of the new world. You and I can do what we want without anyone's disapproval so I will work and you can move to France."

"Do you know what Katherine intends to do?"

"No, I don't."

They both looked over to the mound of blankets and spare clothing which was Katherine.

"She'll have to wake up soon if she's going to be ready in time for night duty. Let's go over and make some cocoa and bring a mug back for her."


But Katherine wasn't asleep: she was crying, very quietly. Although not wanting to join in the conversation, she had been listening and thinking about the last letter from her mother which was screwed up under her pillow. She pulled it out to read it once more.

My dear Katherine,

Such wonderful news - we have heard that the military hospitals over there are finally being closed so you will be home very soon. I am already preparing everything for your arrival. Your room is just as you left it and Rosie is busy cleaning in there. Your name is back on the rota for the church flowers and I am filling in, just until you are back.

I have drawn up a list of guests for our first evening dinner party in your honour and I have arranged for the pianoforte to be re-tuned. I know you will be very pleased to hear that I have ordered some newly composed sheet music which I am assured is being heard at all the very best concert halls in London. You must start practising some of the pieces as soon as you get home. I also have some new dress designs ready and waiting for us to spend time looking at. I have such plans for your new spring wardrobe.

It has been so very quiet since you went away. I still don't understand why you felt you had to return so soon after you arrived home for your last leave. We did everything we could to make it an enjoyable time, and I'm quite sure no one ever mentioned the war. It must have been so hard for you to have to leave us so soon.

Well darling, I know your father and I had such plans for you to marry James Stanmore and his tragic loss so early in the war was very hard for us all to bear but time passes and with it comes acceptance.

Have I written to tell you that Edward has had a very distinguished war? He was mentioned in dispatches and is now a Captain. Of course the Vicar and his wife are so proud of him. He has always been a wonderful son to them, and is such a well bred young man. I am sure you are awaiting his arrival home as eagerly as we all are.

I must stop writing now as it is time to speak to cook about tonight's meal. I will be sure to ask her to be ready to prepare some of your favourite meals when you arrive home.

Your Papa wishes to be remembered to you.

I remain your loving Mamma.


Katherine sat up in bed, wiped her eyes and thought Oh Mamma, I have just spent the four most fulfilling years of my life, despite them being such terrible times, and now what is there for me in the future?


(I have written about the orphanage before)

Part 1 and Part 2

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I found it very difficult to write this month. I blame the break so I hope that's the reason because now I've broken the break.............hmmm, broken the break? still not writing too well then :rolleyes::lol: . Here's to next month.

Squirrel another good poem this month with a very apt last verse.

I left a message on your blog page Michael. Seems like an age away now. That's an iteresting story about your great uncle!

Oh Lands, your picture shook me. We should never forget the suffering of the civilians.

What's next month's title going to be?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Seriously... we need more activity into MGWAT. We have missed some since nobody took initiative, and we seem to have dropped the Pals' Favourite poll already? I don't know about you, but I'm still willing to participate in these, and I have ideas for months' titles/subjects. It's just more interesting to hear ideas from other people who watch this. I hate to "lecture" you like this too. C'mon guys! Lets try this again!

The whole concept is so easy and liberal: just suggest ideas, it doesn't require you to participate if you don't want to.

For those of you who have just arrived and have no idea what is going: "MGWAT" stands for Monthly 'Great War' Art Thread.

The idea is to gather Forum members' (own) artistic talent; visual (traditional and/or digital illustrations, drawings, paintings, cartoons, photographic) literal (poetic, prose) etc.

Each month a new subject or a ready title is decided and everyone's allowed to participate over that month. This is not a contest, just plain fun and sharing.

Like i said, and this can't be emphasized enough, everybody is welcome!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good evening Landsturm, I am responding to your request!

I am at a total loss when it comes to writing about anything, fact or fiction, my brain seems to take a holiday.

To me reading stories and poems really calms me down after a hard day at work, so I guess that if I really did try and create something I would only stress myself.

You asked for ideas so that they can be kicked around a bit to see what transpires.

I did leave a post a short while ago without success, so I may have better luck sneaking it in here.

I have created a website in memorium of the men who fought and fell at the Battle of Bellewaarde on the 16th June 1915.

I should state here that most of the written word is other peoples work which has been credited to them.

Maybe, to get a feel for that day you could visit the site: www.bellewaarde1915.co.uk You will find many stories of soldiers and their families who have been torn apart

by the war, regiment histories and diaries and some before and after images.

The whole thing really got my head going, but sadly not the pen or keyboard.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...