The Durham`s return to China 1937

All set for the off ! These three Durham Light Infantrymen are photographed leaving for the docks, Can you name them ? If so please get in touch. Is it possible that this is the `three stooges` referred to in the news article on this page?  The Lance Corporal in the foreground is Thomas Wilson from Sunderland, by his sleeve trade badge, a qualified machine gunner?

Shanghai & Peking 1937

On the 12th May 1937 the 1st DLI provided a party of eight officers and 228 NCO`s and men for the Coronation Parade in London. In July 1937 it received warning that it was to be sent  to Shanghai in China to help deal with the rapidly escalation of Japanese activities in the region .

The Original Newspaper headlined BRITISH LIGHT INFANTRY BOUND FOR SHANGHAI. Tramp, tramp, tramp the boys of the British first battalion Durham Light Infantry are marching from their base at Farnborough, Hampshire off to the undeclared Sino-Japanese war. In Shanghai they will reinforce British troops already there protecting the neutral international settlement zone.

 

This Old News paper from 1937 was found in an old drawer some of the men mentioned above would not have a Happy War indeed Cpl Harry Dawson 4451123 was Killed in Action 29th May 1942 serving with 6th DLI ,L/CPL  William Hutchinson Moyle 4451374 was killed at Dunkirk with the 8th DLI Pte Daniel Lawlor (The Veteran ) 4438523 was killed in Action on the 24th April 1941 with 1st DLI he was 45years old...Paper Coutesy of Ron Hogg.

  So it was that on the 16th October 1937 the battalion sailed from Southampton on board the HMT Dilwara with a total complement of 10 officers and 364 NCO`s and men en route The 1st DLI called at Port Sudan to enlist the turnover personnel (men from reorganisation/discharge) from the 2nd DLI who were on their way home. This brought the strength of 1DLI up to 19 Officers and 717 NCO`s and men.

 

 

HMT Dilwara

Men of the Durhams pass the time on the journey to China playing `Housey!`..Photograph courtesy of  Mr Dennis Martin

On arrival A,B,C Companies were billeted in The (Franco- Chinese)Municipal School (Boys )whilst Headquarters company along with D Company occupied The Girls Section .Officers were billeted in Private houses on the Yu Yuen Road. There was a great deal of sickness during those first weeks and this temporary accommodation was far from satisfactory for the 1st DLI as it took up, on the 29th November 1937, five section posts in the Southern sector previously manned by The 2nd Loyal Regiment. In addition an emergency platoon was to stand ready at Barracks should the other companies require assistance

If the cap fits? Men of the 1st DLI  1937

Forming up on their arrival on the Bund men of the 1st Durham Light Infantry ..Photograph Courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

The Japanese were now moving in the Eastern part of the International settlement and things were very tense on many occasions soldiers from 1 DLI were snatched by the Japanese and returned(in what state)several days later without apology or explanation .One such incident occurred on the 15th December 1938 when the Japanese erected barricades in the battalion area and arrested two Private soldiers from the 1st battalion.At 1500hrs the Japanese captured Pte Stewart from `D` Company at 2130hrs they swooped again this time it was Pte Lyons from `HQ` Company both men were formerly arrested and held basically as hostages.Two more attempts to seize men of the battalion were foiled when Privates Wilkie and Dobson, both of `D` Company managed to slip from their tormentors grasp.

The two captured soldiers had a sorry festive period with their Japanese `Hosts` their Christmas dinner comprised of a single orange.Despite the British governments attempts to have these men freed the Japanese declared their intention of putting these men on trial and little progress seemed to have been made in securing their release..until Pte Lyons was marched under Japanese guard to the battalions HQ where he was freed without explaination or apology on the 27th December 1938.Pte Stewart was freed on the 31st December 1938 released into the care of the Brigade Major.

1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry Shanghai 1937

My uncle Cpl J W S Gibson told my grandmother that he and other DLI had been forced to watch helpless as Japanese soldiers brutally murdered Chinese civilians, the Battalions officers ordered restraint, the men retired that night very angry at not being allowed to exact revenge on their tormenting murdering foe but in the early hours of the morning two officers dressed in civilian clothes entered the billet and asked the soldiers present if any would be willing to, without any official involvement, like to pop out to sort out these Japanese chaps!, everyone wanted to go!. Lots were drawn and two officers and seven men in civilian clothes walked out in full view of the guard who turned a blind eye to the proceedings well aware of what was going on, the party returned before dawn having extracted their own retribution on the Japanese soldiers responsible for the previous days atrocities and throughout the Company there was a sense of a job well done!(my grandmother never asked what retribution was carried out but I think we can guess).

Even in an Emergency Army Routine continues inspection of the Guard 1st DLI

The 1st DLI`s relief in October 1938 was put off due to the Munich Crisis On the 20th October the battalion landed at Chinwangtao total strength of 22 officers and 701 nco`s and men

Sgt Albert Martin 1st DLI

Sgt Albert (Spotty) Martin, 4447547,1st Btn DLI. Joined as a boy soldier in 1930 aged 15 years. Served in China, Egypt, Middle East (Capuzzo, Syria,Tobruk, ),Malta, Kos (captured by the Germans and became a POW Stalag 4B POW No 263768), Germany, Korea and Malasia He was a "Good friend of 'Major' Webb, Satchwell, Goudie, 'Doc' Turnbull, Ghandie, 'Bilge' Boyd, Andy and many others .(Those mentioned soldiers  appear many times in Sgt Martins Photographs but it has not always been possible to positively identify them within  these images)

Photographs

Text on Photograph written by 4447547 Sgt Albert Martin 1st DLI reads;-`One of our route Marches just to show the flag.Incidently the rifles are always fully loaded!`...Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

 Text on Photograph written by 4447547 Sgt Albert Martin 1st DLI reads;- Have you ever seen such a bundle..I have`nt! Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Men of 1st DLI huddle round a brazier in their outpost in Shanghai Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Japanese soldiers Shanghai.Sgt Martin has written;- `Fred Karnos Army! They are cruel though to the poor Chinese..this is opposite one of our outposts` Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

 

                                                                                                                                           Photograph titled Pacific and European men of the 1st DLI are photographed with two Japanese soldiers (Far Left and far right) Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Christmas Lunch 1937 `Merry Christmas` One and all!

 

A creased momento of Peace and Goodwill Sergeants and Officers of 1st DLI pose for a group photograph in Shanghai  Christmas /New Year 1937 Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Another Christmas this time 1938 the `Last Peacetime Christmas` from 10 platoon  stationed in Peking

British Embassy Guard Peking

One of the duties allocated to The 1st Durham Light Infantry at this time  was that of Embassy Guard in Peking.

This was a tradition dating back to 1900 following the Boxer rebellion during which time the various foreign legations were besieged for six weeks,the European powers established a right to provide guards from their own fighting forces to secure the various Embassies.

 All embassies are located within the Legation quarter which ajoins The Forbidden City.The Quarter itself is surrounded by a wall and each country takes responsibility for the guarding of its own perimeter. In 1938-39 the Guard was provided by men of The 1st DLI over the New year period it was manned by one company and one  platoon. each guard is commanded by a Major .At this period in time (1938-39) B Company had supplied fifty men under 2nd Lieutenant William Waistell to act as guard.

William Hugh  `Pipe`  Waistell

 (Pipe) joined RMA Sandhurst in 1935 and was commissioned into the 1st Btn Durham Light Infantry. In 1937 the battalion embarked on the troopship Dilwarra, bound for Shanghai. During the war he saw service with 11 DLI in Iceland before moving on to 1st Leicestershire Regiment where he saw service in France and Holland.

Immediately after the war he was posted to 6 Air Landing Brigade in Palestine followed by attendance at the Staff College, Quetta (India) in 1946.

At the end of 1946 he was appointed Brigade Major to Headquarters Wana Frontier Brigade Group on the North West Frontier of what was then India.

Between 1947-51 Pipe worked in the War Office before a three year posting 1951-54 with 1st Battalion The Sierra Leone Regiment. Subsequently returned to The Durham Light Infantry where he was Second in Command of 1st DLI until his retirement from the Army in 1958.

Pipe then joined the AA in London and was Assistant Patrol Services Manager until his second retirement in 1970 when he moved to the Isle of Wight.William  Hugh Waistell died suddenly on May 6th 2008 he was 91.

Regimental Routine  China 1935-39

 Band and Bugles Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Band and Bugles Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

 Bugles Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Guard of Honour  for Sir Archibald Clark Kerr Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

 

 How the Times reported the visit on the 6th February 1939

 

 

 

 

Cin C chats with Captain Rodgers of the Battalion Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

DLI Colours and Escort(L to R) Sgt George Flannigan ,Lieutenant Lowe and Sgt Copeland Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

4445635 George `Flan` Flannigan 1st DLI 

George Flannigan was born on 30th September 1906  he enlisted as a Regular soldier in the 1st Battalion DLI in 1926 and worked his way up through the ranks, becoming Regimental Sergeant Major in 1940. He fought with the 1st DLI in North Africa , Malta and in the disasterous campaign on Kos, October 1943, when 1st DLI was overwhelmed. He was awarded the Military Medal on Kos for carrying ammunition forward under heavy fire He was made Quartermaster of the reconstituted battalion and fought on in Italy and Greece. He was awarded an MBE in 1945. He  served as Quartermaster to 1st DLI in the Korean War. George Flannigan retired from army life in 1959  becoming a publican in Durham City.  George "Flan" Flannigan died at Brandon in March 1985, aged 79.

  


`Royal Salute`Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Shoulder arms bayonets fixed Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Taking the Salute Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

 

Guard of Honour from HMS SANDPIPER ,HMS GRIMSBY with 1st DLI to their left Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

On the March to the tune  of the battalion march `The Little Bugler`Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

The Funeral of Captain Mason 1st DLI

 Miles Alexander Fort Mason was born on the 13th November 1905,he was the son of Major Philip Granville Mason DSO of the 3rd Dragoon Guards,30 Walton Street,London,SW.Mason was educated at Wellington and Sandhurst.He was appointed  2nd Lieutenant with the 1st DLI in January 1925;Lieutenant 29th January 1927;Captain 5th June 1937.For a time ,8th September- 23rd March 1936 ,he was Camp Commandant(Class FF) in Palestine and Transjordan(Temp).He served in Palestine 1936-37,(General Service Medal and clasp) He originally joined The 1st DLI in January 1925 whilst they were stationed in Northern Ireland and apart from a month or two on secondment spent his entire career with the battalion.An all-round sportsman Mason was a member of the battalion rugby team during it`s most sucessful period during the 1930`s He was also very well known in the hunting field and point to points field. Captain Miles Alexander Scott Mason died in Shanghai on the 5thj January 1938 during a game of squash.his obituary at the time included"He will long be remembered as an officer of a great and unique personality whos attitude and outlook on life was as inspiring as it was refreshing under the most trying of circumstances"

 

The Band and Bugles form up prior to Captain Masons Funeral Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Major General Telfer-Smollett, (Centre)Officer Commanding Troops in Shanghai (1936-39) in the funeral Parade for Captain Mason Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Major General Alexander Patrick Drummond Telfer-Smollett was British commander in Shanghai, and Brigadier Alfred Henry Hopwood, his colleague at Tientsin:

Officers and other ranks form up at the Graveside of Captain Mason Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Funeral of Captain Mason Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

 

A volly is fired over the Grave of Captain Mason Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Colonial Burial Grounds  suffered badly under communist rule and the only  record of Captain Mason is at Soong Ling Ching Memorial Park.Here only his name  is recorded on a stone plaque.

How the `TIMES` reported the demise of Captain Mason

Newspaper cutting of a Memorial Service  held at St Marks North Audley Street Mayfair,London

The Funeral of 4449197 Cpl Thomas Scott January 6th 1939

Cpl Thomas Scott 4449197 'D' Company, 1st Battalion, Died 2nd January 1939 Shanghai, China he was found in the barracks with a fatal gunshot  wound Major G A Herbert MC OBE additional judge sitting as coroner reported;-
`I find accordingly that Thomas Scott 4449197 of the Durham Light Infantry committed Suicide by shooting himself with a army rifle on Jan 2nd 1939 I also have no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion, that the late Cpl Scott committed this act during a temporary fit of insanity and give my verdict accordingly`
Cpl Scott was a battalion athletics champion ,battalion Rugby player,swimmer and allround sportsman his friends testified that Cpl Scott who was usually of good spirits,had over the past weeks before his death became moody and depressed.He was one month shy of his twenty sixth birthday and came from Gateshead-upon-Tyne at his funeral the service was conducted by Rev L D Vann MA Chaplain British Forces he was buried with full military honours at the Race Course Road Cemetery on the 6th January 1939.As well as the Band and Bugles of the 1st Battalion DLI there were two hundred and fifty mourners and friends of the deceased.The battalion diary recalls the day and recorded it was the coldest day yet so cold that the battalions band instruments froze

 

 .

The Funeral of Corporal Thomas Scott Sgt Martin has labeled the photograph with the words `The Band and Bugles Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

The Funeral of Corporal Thomas Scott Sgt Martin has labeled the photograph with the words " Turning off Racecourse Road into the lane to the cemetery.`Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

The Funeral of Corporal Thomas Scott . Died January 2nd 1939 - Buried January 4th 1939". at the Race Course Road Cemetery officiating at the service was Rev L D Vann MA Chaplain to the Forces

Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin Sgt Martin has labeled the photograph with the words" Cpl Scott moving into the cemetery

Cpl Thomas Scott is carried by his fellow Corporals to his final resting place Photograph Courtesy of Mike Toogood

The Funeral of Corporal Thomas Scott Sgt Martin has labeled the photograph with the words "There were four trucks of wreaths-this was one".Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

The Funeral of Corporal Thomas Scott Sgt Martin has labeled the photograph with the words " Last Post- strangely enough, in spite of the cold, we blew well". Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

The Funeral of Corporal Thomas Scott Sgt Martin has titled the photograph with the words " During the service- the cemetery is on the outskirts of the city- big open plains all around. A bitter wind was blowing and the Padre was rushing  the job as fast as he dared!"  Photograph courtesy of Mr Dennis Martin

Cpl Scotts sporting achievements were mentioned in the Regimental Journal in 1939 examples of these are ;Vol 3  No 17  Jul 1938 -Rugby ..........at half-time the Marines led by a penalty goal after very even play. Early in the second half Cpl. Scott went over near the corner after a good forward rush. Five minutes later L.Cpl. Beddow won the game by kicking a good penalty goal.

Vol 3  No 19  Jan 1939-Swimming......The Company swimming competitions were held at the end of September, and after several close runs, we ended fourth. Our best event was the 200 yds. relay, in which we finished second. Cpl. Scott and Ptes. Jobling, Johnson and Reed were the mainstays of the team and did well throughout                                                                 The Swimming Gala held at Tifeng Road Baths, Shanghai, proved a great success, and once again we are indebted to an efficient Entertainments Committee. Winners and runners-up of the various events were as follows:- Obstacle Race.-1st, Cpl. Williams; 2nd, Cpl. Ditchburn; 3rd, Cpl. Scott. The issue ends with the following note... It is with regret that we learn of the tragic death of Cpl. T. Scott of the 1st Battalion, who was found shot in barracks at Tientsin.Vol 3  No 20  Apr 1939 This  issue covered tributes to an obviously well respected part of an excellent battalion;- It is with very much regret that we record the death of Cpl. Thomas Scott, which occurred at Tientsin on the 2nd January, 1939. He will always be remembered by "D" Company as a first-rate soldier and a great comrade.                         Rugby News......Before finishing, we must add what a great loss to the rugger team CpI. Thomas Scott wiII be. For five seasons he played in every game for the Battalion team and was always there when wanted -a cruel tackler and a grand sportsman.

Corporals' Room.

...It is with deepest regret and sorrow that we have to open our notes with the announcement of the death of our late member, Cpl. Scott. He leaves a gap in our community which no one can ever fill.

Corporal Thomas Scott 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry R.I.P

Durham Soldier Killed in China

 

Pte J W Tomlinson 1st Battalion  The Durham Light Infantry

4449576 Pte John William Tomlinson aged 25 years of The 1st Battalion THe Durham Light Infantry died at Kailin mining administration`s base Hospital at Tangshan on Friday 15th July 1939 from the effects of three bullet wounds inflicted upon him in a mysterious shooting incident in the British Army Summer Camp at Shan-kai-kwan Hopeh province .Pte Tomlinson was standing inside of the Camp territory when the shooting incident occurred.Investigations were reported to be proceding and a post mortem was ordered by the British Military authorities to determine the origin of the three  bullets.Pte Tomlinson was due to return home with his battalion after his tour in China. A Japanese Military spokesman claimed the fatal shots had been fired by an unknown chinese assassin who made good his escape. A  more plausable explanation  believed by his colleagues at the time was that  Pte Tomlinson was murdered by Japanese soldiers whilst he was on sentry duty. The autopsy report showed the cause of death was a bullet of local manufacture fired from an automatic pistol . The bullets were examined by the British Municipal Police and Chief Inspector W G Greenslade (Ballistics expert) who said the cheap continental pistol /weapon used was of a type not infrequently found being used by Chinese Rebels.

 

 

Teeside Soldier Dies; Shot by Sniper 


Private JAMES WILLIAM TOMLINSON (25) of the 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry whose home is at 40 Centenary Crescent,Norton was shot in the stomach at Shauhaikwan near the seaward end of the Great Wall of China by a sniper on Friday and died in hospital yesterday.
Shanhaikwan is near the Manchukun border and 150 miles from Tientsin. The British Military authorities are making enquiries. The young soldier suffered three bullet wounds.
A tragic feature of Tomlinson`s death is the fact that he was due to return home to Norton in October when he would have completed his seven years in the Regular Army during which he had been abroad in Egypt. India and Shanghai.
Tomlinson`s father, James William Tomlinson who joined up in 1914 as a bugler in The Kings Own Scottish Borderers went to France and was killed in action in 1915 at the age of 26.
The news of Pte Tomlinson`s death was conveyed to his mothers house at Norton by a `North Eastern Gazette` reporter and this was the first knowledge she had received that anything had happened to her son.
She is now Mrs Thomas Hare having married again after the death of her first husband/ She was overcome by the news and said `He was looking forward very much to coming home to England.

WELL KNOWN AT STOCKTON

Tomlinson was very well known at Stockton before joining the 1st Durham Light Infantry and after leaving St Mary`s Roman Catholic  School Stockton was employed for a time at a Stockton dairy.
Mrs Hare said  he was a cheerful youth very fond of music and he was enjoying his life as a soldier. Mr Thomas Hare his step-father is the caretaker of the A.R.P headquarters in Norton road. He also served in the Great war. Soldiering seems to be in the blood for Mr Hares 18 year old son .Alfred Hare.is also a private in the 1/5th D.L.I 54th Searchlight Company at Stockton.

Pte Tomlinson`s father was 12598 Pte JW Tomlinson of `C` Company 6th Battalion KOSB he is buried at Cambrin Churchyard Extension. Cambrin is a village about 24 kilometres north of Arras and about 8 kilometres east of Bethune, on the road to La Bassee. Cambrin Churchyard Extension is on the south side of the main road Pte Tomlinson`s father lies at rest at G.25. At this time the family lived at 30 Catholic Street, Stockton.

Floods bring Death to the 1st Durham Light Infantry

 

 The image above is typical of the Flood images the men of the 1st Durham Light Infantry recorded when the Pei-Ho river burst its banks flooding areas to over six feet in depth.The above two soldiers are Pte R Grimstead a signaller of HQ Company and his friend Pte Pearson who enjoy a swim in the flooded barrack area.Look carefully at the photograph and the men blissfully unaware that the electric fan behind them is still plugged into the socket.Water and Electricity  a lethal combination at anytime but in flooded conditions such as these a tragedy waiting to happen.On August 23rd 1939 4450454 Pte R Grimstead was electrocuted when he stood on a live wire concealed below the flood waters whilst trying to reconnect the electricity supply.The Regimental Discharge book makes a brief mention...Discharged 23/08/1939 reason...Died!.

Pte Robert Grimstead`s cousin Gavin Shaw noticed the above information and was able to add the following ;-It happened as he was on telephone exchange duty in Barracks.  He waded across the flooded room "to switch on an electric fan and was electrocuted" - I don't know if he really was trying to switch the fan on as that seems like it would have been a very foolish thing to do in a flooded room, but anyway that is how Robert's commanding officer described what apparently happened in a letter to his mother, Florence.  Although a doctor was sent for at once, he could do nothing.

As all Tientsin and district was flooded for miles around it was impossible to give him a military funeral, so he was buried in the river about five miles down.  Robert's body was fetched from Barracks in a naval skiff from HMS Sandwich and taken to the Bund, where he was transferred to a tug.

On the Bund there was a Guard of Honour from the Battalion.  The tug towed a whaler with an escort of sailors from HMS Sandwich.  The funeral service was performed by the Army Chaplain, and a Bugler sounded the Last Post and Reveille.Robert Grimstead is remembered with honour by his proud cousin Gavin Shaw

Tientsin

On the 20th October the battalion landed at Chinwangtao with a total strength of 22 officers and 701 nco`s and men.On the 23rd October `A` Company plus one platoon were moved by rail to Peking with the remainder at Tientsin where it was reorganised into a rifle battalion in the 1938 Pattern .
In August 1939 the Pei-Ho river burst its banks flooding areas to over six feet in some places.The men evacuated their barracks by wading or swimming to one of Jardine Matthesons large warehouses on the Bund.Patrols were carried out often in Sampans while the officers played deck tennis on the mess roofs!

1st DLI Patrol Chinese Style 1939

1st Battalion DLI soldiers on Patrol on Racecourse row during the great flood when the Pei-Ho burst its banks,look at how depressed the second soldier from the left looks! Mind you I remember a letter my uncle sent to his mother (my Grandmother)and he included the line...I`ll have to go now the smell is terrible I`m surprised you cannot smell it in England! its that bad!

1st DLI soldiers playing ice hockey at the Tientsin Country Club! during the winter of 1938-39

Soldiers of the 1st DLI take to the roof tops during the great flood of 1939

My uncle served in China Pre -War his list of service dates reads as follows for the China Period
Shanghai 1937-1938,
Peking 1938,
Tientsin 1938-1939
Hong Kong 1939-1940

A sentry of the 1st DLI outside of the camp again in the winter of 1938-39.

 

The 1st DLI with the news of the outbreak of war moved to Hong Kong ,where it left for Suez and the middle east arriving on the 30th January 1940……

 

Battalion Life in China.

Life in China was harsh but the 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry carried on its everyday activities between the call outs and parades the Sporting side of the battalion carried on as normal. Below is a photograph of the battalion football team taken at Shanghai in 1938

Photograph of the football team of the 1st Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, taken at Shanghai, China, January, 1938 Back row: Private Curtis, Private Wilson, Lance-Corporal Allen Third row: Private Brown, Corporal Thompson, Private Hay Second row, seated: Regimental Sergeant-Major Bush, Major Heslop, Lieutenant Keith Seated on ground: Private Hanratty, Sergeant Cope, Lance-Corporal Wilson, Sergeant Fulton, Private Rutherford

62653 Lieutenant Adrian Lionel Stobart Keith photographed above was killed in action in World War Two during operations in the Western Desert. It was also announced he had been awarded a Military Cross.Son of Gerald and Eva Keith, of Holborn, London he rests at Tobruk War Cemetery . There may have been more casualties but without verified service numbers it is hard to determine who they actually were.

                               DLI Poem published in the REGIMENTAL MAGAZINE 1939

The Bugler he had sounded and out went every light,
When I hit my Three by Six I planned to stay there all the night,
But all of a sudden a heavenly voice in the stillness rent,
Twas good old St Peter calling and heavenwards I went,
The journey took a hundred years I did not travel fast,
But rather like a troopship or a goods train going past,
I wondered why we made no stops till I heard St Peter say,
Hold back all them Generals boys theres a Durham on his way!

At last I reached the pearly gates,in awe I gazed around,
For there were forty Majors there Policing all around,
While in dismay a Colonel stood guarding Early until Late,
He`d overstayed his leave one day and could not pass the gate!
St Peter looked me over and shouted through the door,
You`ve earned your place in heaven lad come view the golden shore,

I know you`ve served in China and helped write a history page,
And its not your fault you pegged it though you reached a right old age,
Just bide your time rest all you can for time means nothing here,
The NCO`s do all the work and Corporals serve you beer!,
The barrack room was marble inside were easy chairs,
A Captain fanned my heated brow while Lance Jacks cleaned the Stairs,
The Sergeants were the porters all were drawing lots,
To help the young Lieutenants who were busy drying pots,

One Sergeant in the hospital got salts and three black pills,
Then I marked him fit for duty to cure him of his ills,
We searched all the Lieutenants for fags and matches too ,
And then they`d run our errands till the day was nearly through!

Tiring of all this pleasure I took to my feather bed,
Reveille never crossed my mind I`ll sleep till noon instead,
When all at once I felt a jerk and in my ear I heard a croak,
"Its just on three relieve the Guard!" and then Oh Hell I woke,
I grabbed my good old rifle and then without a care,
I stepped smartly out on guard again despite the frosty air!
I walked that beat in earnest until my feet were really sore,
But I`m proud that I`m a `Tommy` and a `Durham to the Core!