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Remembered Today:

Captain W.J.Templeton - Royal Scots Fusilers


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There has been a previous thread on this forum about Captain W. F. Templeton of the 4th Royal Scots Fusilers here: http://1914-1918.inv...=1

But I wonder how many people actually know about William Fowler Templeton, 1889-1918, the poet from Tranent (a couple of miles east of Edinburgh) who published a slim volume of poetry called "Songs of the Ayrshire Regiment" in 1917, and was killed in action on 1st October 1918 near Cambrai.

John Buchan (the novelist who wrote The Thirty Nine Steps) in his History of the Royal Scots Fusiliers called W.F.T. "the laureate of the regiment".

I post this because (being interested in all things relating to the RSF in WW1), I have just come across, and bought, a copy of this little book of poetry, and many of the poems are rather good in my humble opinion. Some are touching but rousing, and might not strike quite the same melancholy note as Owen and Sassoon. Here is one, by way of example, which I hope pals will like:

AMENITIES 1. The Officers Speak

We howled at you and growled at you and cursed you out and in,

We danced you round the barracks square a thousand times a day,

We swore to your proficiency in every sort of sin,

And worse-than-utter-uselessness in every other way.

Your discipline was rotten, and your drill was past a joke,

We told you to your faces, and you smothered down a laugh,

But had another dared to even hint the things we spoke,

We reckon we'd have swallowed him - not half!

For, damn it all we're proud of you, in spite of all our cant,

The whole hard-bitten crowd of you, what better could we want?

For when it's dirty weather, boys, it's one and all together, boys,

Hooray, and hell-for-leather, boys, and at them, Fusiliers!

AMENITIES 2: The Men Speak

We laughed at you, and chaffed at you, and called you bits o' boys,

We heard you give a wrong command, and chuckled soft and low,

We soon had got your sizes, spite of all your blooming noise,

And labelled you with tickets that your mammies wouldn't know;

We weren't too respectful when we saved you off parade,

(You weren't there to hear us - we made mighty sure of that)

But had another reg'ment said the half of what we said,

We reckon we'd have eaten them - eh what?

For, damn it all! we'd follow you with open eyes or blind,

Were Hell itself to swallow you, you'd find us close behind;

For when it's dirty weather, boys, it's one and all together, boys,

Hooray, and hell-for-leather, boys, and at them Fusiliers!

[N.B. you have to imagine the poem read in a scots accent, so that "weren't" is two syllables B)]


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  • 2 weeks later...

In Templeton's "Songs of the Ayrshire Regiment" I have come across a poem which reflects the confusion in the public's mind, then as now, between the Royal Scots (1st Regiment of Foot, recruited mostly from Edinburgh and Fife) and the Royal Scots Fusiliers (21st Regiment of Foot, recruited mostly from Ayrshire and Glasgow), and the occasional resentment felt among the latter.

The poem is titled after a newspaper headline which appeared after 5th Royal Scots Fusiliers had fought a brave action against the Turks in Egypt early in 1916, "Gallant Stand of the Royal Scots at Dueidar."

Here is a fragment (the last line scans properly if you imagine it read in a scots accent):

There's one and twenty Fusiliers lie buried in the sand,

Two little wooden crosses mark the spot,

There's others in the hospitals of this benighted land,

But not a blooming one a Royal Scot;

The Royal Scots held Dueidar - 'twas they the papers named,

And Royal Scots relieved them it appears,

But when it came to corpses, and the broken and the maimed,

Why, bless me! if they weren't Fusiliers.


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