Private John Scott
GIVENCHY – OCTOBER 1916
Three things chiefly I remember of a little place named Gorre.
Somewhere out in France, September, Nineteen-sixteen, First World War!
First, an unexpected meeting with another home-town guy;
Time for just a wave, a greeting from the ranks as we passed by.
Next, the Padre’s invitation to a service if we’d go,
And we met in a plantation, in the grounds of some chateau;
Last, that road from Gorre, shell shattered, echoing to our marching feet –
The canal road too, where battered, lay Givenchy’s ruined street!
Rain and howling wind together round Givenchy’s billets blew;
Houses open to the weather, doors and windows all “Napoo”
On the current situation each one having aired his views,
In OUR cellar, conversation turned upon the latest news –
“Pickles caught on duty boozing! Sergeant Pickles shoved in clink!”
In the corner cafe, choosing just the wrong time for a drink!
Happily inebriated, gaily his vin blanc he swipes,
For his sins now relegated – shoved in clink and lost his stripes!
In a corner sits a stranger – a newcomer to our mob –
For the first time facing danger, since he left his Blighty job.
Davy’s business was recruiting (Davy Levy, that’s the name)
He’d had naught to do with shooting, hunting rookies was his game.
For the Army (or the Navy) he’d passed hundreds of recruits,
Till one day they came for Davy – dished him out with Army boots!
Sorting out the keen and fit men, Dave sat back and took his ease;
Got the big shock of his life when he was drafted overseas!
There he reels off many a story, forgetting his woes the while,
With his chestnuts old and hoary, trying hard to raise a smile;
Stories smutty, stories witty, from this non-stop yarning Jew.
There’s a youngster letter-writing in a dismal room upstairs;
Finds a way p’raps more inviting to forget about HIS cares.
Though the autumn wind is driving through the rent and gaping walls
Of that ruin, bleak surviving, and the rain incessant falls –
Falls on tangled leaves and grasses where the garden used to be,
And the doleful wind that passes whines like shells, unceasingly!
Writing home to cheer the old folks; kids them up things aren’t too bad,
When the situation’s no joke, writes of happy times he’s had.
Written by Private John Scott – Date Unknown