Friday, November 11, 2016

Song a Day November: The Last Post

There are few tunes that cut me to the quick like this.

A bit of family history. My grandfather's brother, Harold, used to play the trumpet in a band in Victor Harbor before the war.

My grandfather was 18 at the conclusion of World War One, he tried to enlist, but was refused after a bout of pleurisy left him fifteen kilograms underweight.

However, his three older brothers, Keith, Roy and Harold went off to war. None of them bore arms - and to this day I'm not sure how this happened, but being of strong Methodist faith, they probably wanted to do their bit without baring arms.

Keith, a driver who ferried men from one side of what is now the Suez Canal to the other died of typhoid caught from swimming in poison water.

Roy came back with a two bar military medal on his chest, after being presented to the King of the time. Roy was a signalman, who kept the lines of communication open at battlefields such as Fromelles, Villers Brettoneaux and Bellecourt. A happy chap from all accounts, Roy also went on to manage a signal repeater station on the Nullabor Plains as was there to help get the communications up and running when Darwin was bombed in World War II.

The one that hasn't been referenced in the family that much, was Uncle Harold. Not that the family ever talked about their war service. It wasn't talked about. Ever. Harold went over at the start of World War I and was a bugler at Gallipoli.

He was only over there for about six months before he was sent back for something called Rheumatism. In all likelihood, this haberdasher from Victor Harbor was probably suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but he came back safe, if not a bit shaken - and went on to have a short and tragic life in some ways, but a happy life in others.

But every time I hear The Last Post, I think of my mother's Uncle Harold, the bugler. Who, in his early 20s, would play this morning and night, calling men to battle, presiding over the funerals of dead soldiers and all the other duties a bugler on the battlefields of Gallipoli would do. I try not to think of the horrors this simple man would have seen.

And I hope that nobody has to see these horrors again.

So today, I give you The Last Post.

Lest we forget.

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