Learning Lessons – Remembrance

Our Creative Writing Group has penned a series of meditations on “Remembrance”.

Learning Lessons

The battle was raging less than a mile away; Joe was trying to be calm and comforting in those in his care, in these harsh frightening conditions. Joe was an orderly working in an appalling situation. There were not only British wounded in his care, but others from different parts of the Empire, fighting for the Mother country. In a small area, slightly apart from the others, were several German prisoners, seriously injured; Joe didn’t hate the enemy, he had enlisted along with several of his pals in a fit of enthusiasm, thinking it would be exciting to be part of the Great War; but oh no it was far from exciting, it was horrendous, to be on the front of Passion dale was hell.

He bent over one of the Germans’ who was groaning, the man grabbed Joe’s hand, with his free hand he placed a small package in Joe’s other palm, Joe placed the package back onto the man’s chest, with eyes looking pleadingly at Joe, the man again passed it to Joe, he then gave a shudder, he lay very still, Joe realised that he had died. Later when off duty, sitting on his camp bed, Joe realised that the package was a pack of cards, not at all like the ones he and his pals used, these cards had words written on them, also pictures of soldiers in German uniform, the Kaiser had his face also on some of the cards, Joe felt so moved and honoured to have been given this gift by a dying man, he felt strongly that he should take great care of them.

After the armistice and Joe was home from the front, the cards became a curiosity to his friends and family, Meg his wife suggested that they were shown to Mr Hargraves the butcher who they were registered with during the duration of the war, his wife came from Germany, she had been interned during the war years; Meg had befriended the butcher’s wife Greta once she was back home, she had felt very sorry for the couple to have been separated in such a way during the war years. They had no children, they made a fuss of Meg’s little Fred. When Meg passed Mr Hargrave’s Fred’s children’s ration card, occasionally the butcher would wink, maybe adding an extra slice of bacon to the allowed ration, or perhaps a little more neck of mutton to make a nourishing stew. Surly Greta would know how the cards were used, or played with, also to translate the words on the cards.

Joe said “what a good idea,” he thought that in later years he would tell Fred that the enemy were not all bad people, just ordinary folk, doing what was expected of them, to serve their country; he did hope Fred, would treasure the cards and perhaps in time, when hopefully he had children of his own, share the story of Granddad, of how the cards had come into his possession, during the turmoil of that terrible war, also hopefully, lessons had been learned, that there would not be a reoccurrence of war, that the world would live in peace.

Sheila Richardson