Dad’s Medals

To commemorate Remembrance Day we would like to share with you the following verse written by former Lancashire Life contributor, Cliff Gerrard (and subsequently recited by The Oldham Tinkers on their album Sit Thee Down). The poem is taken from one of the many publications featuring prose and verse written in Lancashire dialect contained within our Lancashire History Collection.  Filled with warmth, sadness and humour and, with its theme of reminiscence, we thought it a fitting tribute for this coming Sunday.

The Oldham Tinkers 2013

The Oldham Tinkers 2013/Wendy Gradwell

Dad’s Medals

It were smashin’ when eawr dad come whoam
After two-three pints at t’local,
He’d sit in th’armcheer next to t’fire
Aw eloquent an’ vocal,
Then talk for hours on t’Fost World War,
Of Tommies dead an’ gone,
We’d duck wi’ him as shells whizzed past,
Rejoice at battles won,
An’ walk through trenches thick wi’ mud,
Learn words like ‘Kammerad’,
So on most Sundays came the cry
“Show us thi medals, dad!”

Prestwich Heritage Museum

Prestwich Heritage Museum

He’d geet five on ‘em in a box,
He’d hand one to each son
Five pairs of hands caressed ‘em
As he described each one.
“That’s when me leg geet done,” he’d say,
“Them flamin’ Gerry snipers!
Jackie Ball geet killed t’same day
In a place as we cawd ‘Wipers’
He were nobbut seventeen,” he’d sigh,
“A strappin’ Billinge lad.”
We was often sadder after sayin’
“Show us thi medals, dad!”

Prestwich Heritage Museum

Prestwich Heritage Museum

Mind yo, his humour were a treat,
It weren’t aw death an’ shells,
He towd us beltin’ yarns abeawt
Yon famous Dardanelles.
One cowd day he copped a German,
“Ach! Gott Mit Uns,” he cried.
“Tha lucky – Ah’ve no gloves nor nowt!”
Eawr shiverin’ dad replied.
“Ah thowt as he said ‘mittens’!”
Dad explained, we laughed like mad!
He towd it every time we said,
“Show us thi medals, dad!”

Prestwich Heritage Museum

Prestwich Heritage Museum

Him an’ Harry Waterworth
Pinched a pig one neet.
“We geet fed up wi’ eytin rats,
It’s time we hed a treat!”
An we’d gasp “Rats?” an’ he’d say “Aye-
Get thissen a bet on,
We chased it aw reawnd Flanders fields,
Until it geet a sweat on,
An’ t’Battalion dipped their bread in it!
It didn’t taste so bad!”
Aye, tears an’ laughter allus followed
“Show us thi medals, dad!”

IMG_3136

Th’owd chap died a few months back,
T’lads didn’t skrike – we thowt
He’ll be wi’ Jack an’ Harry
Talkin’ Army days no doubt,
Eawr mam give us a medal each.
We cherish ‘em wi’ pride,
By god, when she bequeathed ‘em
That’s when we really cried.
Tha reads o’ medals auctioned neaw
For paltry sums, it’s sad,
Tha cawn’t go sellin’ memories – nay,
We’ll keep thi medals, dad!

Gerrard, Cliff. “Dad’s Medals.” Just Sithabod: Dialect verse from ‘Lancashire Life’. Ed William Amos. Manchester: Whitethorn Press Ltd, 1975. 12. Print.
Lancashire History Collection/CfCC/Bury

Lancashire History Collection/CfCC/Bury

Wendy

Wendy

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