Ode To A Bugle


The Corporals’ Club is a rendezvous –
On Remembrance Day – for the derrin-do
Who wish to vie with the Engineer,
And blow the bugle for all to hear.
It takes more than guts to blow that horn
That tootled sweet across the Somme
And scared the Huns from off the Bridge,
Saw Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge.

And in the peace, it seemed to wait
While men still paused at Menin Gate,
But nineteen hundred and thirty-nine
The echoes rumbled, it stood in line
Ready to lead with the Engineers,
Ready to fight – it knew no fears –
To wake up the boys and put ’em to bed,
No pity at all for the size of the head.

From North Vancouver it led the way
To Petawawa, then Halifax Bay,
Across the downs of Aldershot
That five note bugle was on the spot;
Then down to Gib and Sicily,
And up the leg of Italy,
The first to arrive, the last to leave –
The song it sang, you’d never believe.

“Up, lads, and at ’em” it seemed to yell,
“We’ll drive the Jerries straight to hell.”
“Come to the cookhouse door, boys”-
Hardtack and bully beef comprised the joys
Of a five course dinner in the line;
And whatever the weather, rain or shine,
It cried out “Taps” o’er wooden crosses
Which, through the country, marked its losses.

And now each year – out of retirement –
The bugle comes for Corp’rals enjoyment.
But if you wish to blow the bugle,
Please don’t dine on apple strudel;
For two things are needed to make it hum –
Lips that are pickled deep in rum,
And tongue real tough with cusswords blue –
Opinions of captains, and generals too.

Its owner’s teeth sit on the sink,
His hair is gray, and you may think
His rum-sodden lips and bleary eye
Negate the words that never die;
But Sam and his bugle have been through the mud,
In action they’ve seen the bad and the good,
And if you’re around on Remembrance Day,
Watch ’em – they won’t even fade away.

Sam was my father, and the sanctity of his bugle was probably one of the first lessons I ever learned.
They (we) ended up on an isolated Air Force station on northern Vancouver Island (Holberg) and, as a civilian, my Dad was made a member of the Corporals’ Club. His age and war experience commanded him some respect and no one messed with him and The Bugle on Remembrance Day.
Mum was the local poet – we had a little weekly newsletter-style paper – and I think most of the history of CFS Holberg throughout the 60s was chronicled in Mum’s poems in “The Seagull Courier”.


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