Chapter 11
'Join Kitchener's Army...' Went the Song

 

I was fond of my work and was never late, but within me was the urge to enlist as other 'men' were doing. I was tall, smart, athletic and looked more than my age, or so I thought. So, three months short of my seventeenth birthday, I went twice to recruiting offices, only to be disallowed when my age was admitted, but told to return next year. My father warned me' not to enlist until I was nineteen years old.

Several weeks later a large poster of Lord Kitchener, at Leuchars Junction, kept haunting me with the accusation that I was not doing my part. I can still see the message in mind's eye emphasised by Kitchener's pointed finger and the caption read: YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU, JOIN MY 100,000. I met a capable woman who was keen to be a 'Postie' on my round and so I felt justified in my next move. On 7th January 1915, 1 was back at a Dundee army office determined to be recruited.

Fortunately the officer in charge did not know me and ignored the comments of an army clerk who remembered me. The officer asked, 'When were you born?' I tried to answer against the hubbub around, '19th January, 1898, Sir. He must have felt that he misheard for he said by way of half-query, 'Good. Age nineteen?' After a brief pause and in the absence of any response from me he continued, 'Gunners are required for the Royal Field Artillery. Are you interested?' Proudly and positively I replied, 'Yes, Sir.' I was passed into the medical room where all tests were perfect. Later, back with the officer he declared, 'Your number will be 70412 in Kitchener's 100,000.' I took the oath, was handed 11- and became a soldier. I

Then a clerk handed me a many-questioned form to fill in which several others were struggling to complete. Within minutes mine was finished, the officer was called, he looked at the form and then at me and said nicely, 'What lovely writing.' He asked me to sign, added his signature, shook me by the hand and said sincerely, 'Good luck, lad. Now go home and await instructions.

Back at home my mother cried, so too my younger sister and brother, Netta and Angus. My father looked pleased and was adamant, despite my mother's pleadings, that he would not demand my release due to my age.

Next day I was back on my postal round, but word soon reached every home that I had enlisted and within a few days I was given 3 in gifts by people I barely knew. The woman was allowed to take over my job and my uniform was handed in. I was free and anxious to get my army papers.

 

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This work, Going With God, is copywrited by Ronald R. Caseby, 1993.   All rights reserved.  Used here by express permission.