St Valery (80 years ago)

The climb up Dumyat may be the death of me one day, but not on this anniversary.

I keep going, for the regiment, carrying the flag to the summit. As usual, old Mrs Maitland is out there in front; thinking of her men. I have to do my bit, as they did. Today, we again care about St Valery and the Argyll’s who fought there. We also remember why it happened.

I couldn’t do much before it, but watch them march down the High Street to the Railway Station. For a few minutes, we saw Dad waving from a maroon carriage. Then the smoke puffed and billowed from the green engine with its repeated whistle deafening my ears. The fumes covered the platform, stinging our eyes. When it cleared, all was gone except the light of the train disappearing into the tunnel, the bad taste in our mouths and the muffled silence; as we said our goodbyes.

The message had come from the Ministry. Dad was called up; scared to say no, frightened for us being left on our own to cope and left forever. The only other time we received a telegram was after he died. There weren’t many months between the brown paper deliveries; for years to come they stared at us from the mantelpiece.

About Lindsay Craik

Writer & Poet Poetry, plays and short stories
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