Archive | June, 2012

Rudyard Kipling and Son John

30 Jun

Hello everybody in the late 19th and early 20th century this country of ours were blessed with great writers and poets Rudyard Kipling is amongst the top of these. He was born and christened John Rudyard Kipling in Bombay in 1865 where his British parents worked and lived. He was educated in England and excelled in writing short stories. He returned to India, a country he loved and took up a post working for a Newspaper and also worked as a War Correspondent.
Rudyard Kipling wrote many children stories including The Jungle Book and Kim which are still popular today. He also wrote many poems. The one I like best is IF, with the opening lines. IF you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.
There are many people who have wrote and know more about Rudyard Kipling than I, but I want to mention about his son John. Rudyard’s son John at the outbreak of World War One, tried to join the Royal Navy, but like his father he had poor eyesight and failed the medical. He tried unsuccessfully to join Army regiments, but again he failed through his eyesight. Rudyard had many friends and contacts both in the military and civilian circles. A Lifelong friend of Rudyard Kipling was Lord Roberts the Commander in Chief of the British Army and was also the Colonel of the Irish Guards. Due to this friendship John Kipling was accepted and commissioned into the Irish guards.
John Kipling was 18 years old when he was posted to the western Front in France, within weeks of his arrival the Battle of Loos started. A few weeks into the battle during the month of September, eye witnesses saw John Kipling fall holding his neck. Due to the intense shelling and machine gun fire it was impossible to retrieve him and he was posted missing presumed killed.. At the end of the battle there was no sign of John Kipling body or whereabouts. Rudyard and his wife Carrie were grief stricken and they used all their power and endeavour with the hope to find that their loved son John was still alive. The search went on after the War ended in 1918. They visited the Loos area often, always living in hope, but finally in 1919 they accepted he had been killed in action. John Kipling’s name is on the memorial to the missing at Loos. It is sad that there were over half a million men who have no known grave due to the First World War. Rudyard never got over losing his son John and blamed himself for his death. Rudyard Kipling Died in 1936 still a heartbroken man
The story does not end there, because due to the diligence of a Canadian, who worked for the War Graves Commission. He came across paperwork of two bodies buried in St Mary’s Field Hospital Cemetery in Loos, with only one name on the headstone. Further investigation revealed that the other body in the grave wore an Irish Guards Lieutenants uniform. John Kipling had at last been found and his name is now on a headstone in the Graveyard at Loos. I have been to this cemetery in 1993 and like all War cemeteries they are beautifully kept for the heroes they hold within.
There are historians and writers who don’t believe it was John Kipling they found. My answer to them is, let it be.
Alan

ABIDE WITH ME

20 Jun

The Hymn Abide with Me was written by a Scot named Henry Francis Lyte, in 1874. He wrote it as a poem and set it later to music. Unfortunately he died soon after its completion of tuberculosis. It was later sung to William Henry Monk’s tune “Eventide” Which is how we sing it now. No doubt, very beautiful words and music.
I am not a religious man, but I respect other people’s religions and if they get comfort from their respective religions, so be it. I mention this hymn, because many years ago in the fifties I was present at a Rugby League Cup Final at Wembley stadium. On arrival at the stadium everyone was given a Union Jack covered hymn sheet. During the course of the afternoon prior to the game there was community singing led by a man dressed in white named Arthur Caiger. When it came to the last of hymns to be sung, the stadium went into a silence. All the chattering and shouting stopped as the band and Arthur broke into Abide with me.
I was only 17 years old at the time and I had travelled down with tough shipbuilders and steelworkers from my home town. Also, in our company were men who had just retired from work who had fought, served and survived the First World War. During the course of singing this hymn, I was certainly moved and glancing round at the men I knew, tears were running down their faces. It wasn’t because they were soft, it was because the Abide with Me hymn had got to their hearts and minds. One has to understand every family throughout our country suffered during both World Wars. Nearly every street had someone who had lost their life in the service of their country. Many families lost sons, brothers, uncles not forgetting also many women died in the World Wars. When the singing was over and Arthur Caiger stepped down from the rostrum, tears were wiped away and everyone went back to their noisy selves.
In this present age the hymn Abide with Me does not have the same impact on people as it did in those post war days, but it certainly does with me. I am sure many of our older readers will have had similar experiences over the years. In fact everyone has lost someone close to them and Abide with Me certainly pulls at one’s heart strings
Alan

Get In Get Out and Get Away – Memoirs of a National Serviceman

16 Jun

My book has been on sale for over a year now and sales are far in excess of where I expected.

For any new readers to the blog, a link can be found here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Get-Out-Away-National-Serviceman/dp/B0050I6A2E or check out my other website http://www.getingetoutandgetaway.co.uk/

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A Bad Experience Many Years Ago

11 Jun

Unfortunately in this present day of 21st century, racism has reared its ugly head in all walks of life including sport.
I personally had or should I say witnessed racism many years ago. As you all know I was a national serviceman in the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment 1960-62. The regiment at the time, if my memory serves me, we did not have any fellow soldiers from ethnic communities in the regiment.
The regiment was posted to the Cameroons in West Africa for ten months. During that time I never witnessed any kind of racial abuse to the inhabitants. The British army in certain situations can be tough at times and our regiment were no exception. One has to understand there’s no middle ground in Africa, you have or you have not and unfortunately the have not suffer considerably
What was and still is in my mind is the poverty we as the regiment seen during those months in the Cameroons. The people including the children were always dressed in the same tatty and torn clothes every day and easily 90% were barefooted. Most of the children had some form of malnutrition. At first with their swollen stomachs due to my early ignorance, I thought they looked fat, how wrong I was. Even with all the poverty they endured we were always met by a big smile and the last thing in our minds was to be abusive to these unfortunate people.
I have to speak on behalf of our regiment; in saying it was a good kick up the backside in life for all of us, both young and old.
Late January 1961back in England, I was a member of the King’s Own Royal Border Regt rugby team. We were to play at Aldershot, where we played two Parachute Regiments and a Para RHA regt. We stayed in billets in one of the Parachute Regiment camps and I must say they looked after our welfare very well.
On one of the nights between games, along with a few fellow team mates we visited the big NAAFI. In Aldershot. During the course of the evening there were three black soldiers talking amongst themselves at a table not bothering anyone. Standing at the bar was a group of about six Para’s in civilian dress. We knew they were Para’s, because of recognising a few of them who had played against us that afternoon. Without warning as soon as they had finished a pint they threw the glass at the feet of the three black soldiers. This went on for quite a while in the packed bar of the NAAFI until one of the three soldiers stood up and went out of the room. Within about three minutes he returned, followed by a party of Military Police. He pointed to two of the party of Para’s who were instantly arrested and taken away by the MPs. I am sorry to say it did not end there, because as the three black soldiers began to leave. There must have been thirty men who formed a passage of say fifteen either side. To my horror these unfortunate lads had to walk the gauntlet down the passage to the door. Has they walked the gauntlet, beer was thrown over them. It was terrible to witness and I have never seen anything like that since. When the beer drenched men eventually left the room everything went back to normal as though nothing had happened. Totally unbelievable, but true. I wrote about this episode in my book

In this present day, the British Army is well integrated with different cultures who serve the country with distinction. Hopefully no one again will endure what those three soldiers went through, all those years ago.

Alan

2nd Lieut Joseph Henry Collin 4th King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regt)

7 Jun

There was one officer in the 4th King’s Own, named 2nd Lieut. Joseph Henry Collin who through an act of outright bravery won a Victoria Cross at Orchard Keep in Givenchy June 1918.
After offering a long and gallant resistance against heavy odds in the Keep held by his platoon, this brave officer with only five of his men remaining they slowly withdrew in the face of overwhelming numbers of German infantry. The enemy were pressing him hard with bombs and machine-gun fire from close range as he contested every inch of the ground. Single- handed 2nd Lieut. Collin attacked the enemy machine gun and team. After firing his revolver into the enemy, he seized a mills grenade and threw it into the hostile team, putting the gun out of action killing four of the team and wounding two others.
Observing a second hostile machine gun firing, he took a Lewis gun and selecting a high point of advantage on a parapet. 2nd Lieut. Collin unaided engaged the enemy gun with fire keeping them at bay until he fell mortally wounded.
The heroic self- sacrifice of 2nd Lieut. Collin was a magnificent example to all. For his most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty and self-sacrifice he was awarded posthumously the Victoria Cross.
As you the reader can see 2nd Lieut. Joseph Henry Collin was a very brave man indeed

All sixteen members of the party led by 2nd Lieut. Collin were killed barring one man Lance/Cpl J Pollitt, who was badly wounded and taken prisoner. Although J Pollitt badly wounded as he was, he killed his escort and fought his way back to British lines. Lance/Cpl Pollitt was unlucky that he did not receive any official recognition for his valuable service on this and other occasions. It is interesting to note at Givenchy, Lance/Cpl Pollitt was involved in both the actions that men of the 4th King’s Own regiment won the Victoria Cross. Lance/Cpl Pollitt survived the war which in itself was a bonus in life.

Alan

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