Sunday, 13 November 2016

Thanks, Private Norfolk

Dear Reader,

                                            Private 1432, Cecil Ernest Bullimore, who joined a Norfolk Regiment.
                                                        Killed in action on 12th August, 1915.

During my summer holidays in the 1950s I lived in a small cottage in Norfolk, next to a river, and really in the middle of nowhere.  My sister and I had ponies to ride, and in those balmy days there was little traffic on the roads or in the lanes, so riding through the wonderful, large golden wheat fields was a great delight.  Sometimes we would take a picnic, dismount and eat it sitting among exotic wild flowers before going home.  We also had a yellow pony trap and a small, fat, cross pony called Joey to pull it along.  Sometimes we would harness Joey and trot off to Buxton, our nearest village, to watch the farrier shoe horses,  and I can still remember the strong smell of burnt hoof and metal.  Our cottage had no mains electricity and we had to pump water into a tank by hand.  My father gave us a sixpence for 100 pumps.

Norfolk in those days was a very quiet and peaceful county and had its own ways and its own accent.  I suspect it wasn't much different from the county, rivers, roads and lanes that the people who lived there in 1914-18 knew - those people, kind, uncomplaining and innocent, getting on with their lives in a traditional way.  The brave young men of Norfolk who signed up in 1914 and went to war would have had no idea what, for them, was to come.  In the two minutes silence today, when we remember those who died for us, I always say thank you to them all,  and hope, somewhere, they can hear me.


Thanks, Private Norfolk

You left, singing, with your pals,
marching for good and glory.
You hadn't yet dug a trench,
killed an unknown soldier,
seen dead bodies, smelt their stench,
heard comrades' last sickening cries.

You gave your life with generous heart,
believed the lies
dispatched by loftier ranks.
And so to you, dear Private Norfolk,
I give salute,
and my deepest thanks

for swapping your mauve rain-skies,
your white-breast beaches, and beckoning sea,
your level fields of ripening corn,
to fight in foreign fields, for us,
for me.

With best wishes, Patricia

PS.  Links to buy my new book below!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Last night I was moved to tears by a ballet entitled Young Men choreographed for the Ballet Boyz and broadcast on BBC2. How could they tell the terrible story of the young men going to war in 1914 in dance? In the same way your poem of the young Norfolk soldier tells us the story of Everyman - not so much in the words as the spaces in between. Lovely, and so important now. x