Ours, Yours and Mines

Historical novels set in Scotland and based on real people and events.

Sample Chapter - Far Across The Sea

CHAPTER 8 - September 1916

You're In The Army Now

 

  The recruitment office was bustling as George timidly stepped through the door.  He watched in silence for a few minutes, trying to get his bearings and listening to the chaos that surrounded him.  A thin, young lad with red hair and freckles walked a few steps past him, up to one of the many recruitment officers who stood straight-backed, resplendent in their uniforms.

  “I’m here to join the army and serve at The Front,” the lad shouted over the din.

  “How old are you, son?” asked the recruitment officer.

  “I’m eighteen,” said the boy.  The recruitment officer looked him up and down.

  “You’d better take a walk down the street, pick up a birthday while you are out and come back and try again.”  The bewildered lad did as he was told and after a few minutes he was back standing in front of the recruitment officer.

  “I’m here to join the army and serve at The Front,” the lad said again.

  “How old are you, son?” asked the recruitment officer.

  “I’m nineteen,” said the boy.

  “Right, take this paper and see the sergeant.”  The boy beamed and grabbed the piece of paper and walked over to the sergeant.

   George still had a couple of months to go until his nineteenth birthday, but he was desperate to serve overseas.  He had been watching the pageantry unfold between the thin young boy and the recruitment officer.

   ‘Aye, well he’ll do me,’ George said to himself and strode confidently over to the recruitment officer and presented his call-up letter.  He knew that you had to be eighteen to join the army, but nineteen to be sent to The Front.   By the time he finished his basic training he reckoned he’d be old enough to be sent into the thick of the action.

  The recruitment officer looked him over and then he was directed towards a cubicle where a doctor weighed and measured him and gave him a general health check.  Then he was handed some papers and moved on to the next station.  The sergeant looked him up and down, read the papers and thrust them back in front of George.

  “Sign on the dotted line.  Welcome to the army, son.”  He was handed one of the papers and a travel warrant. “Now hold out your hand,” said the sergeant as he placed two six-penny pieces on George’s palm.  “Here is the King’s shilling,” he said as George’s eyes lit up, “and I’ll be taking a sixpence for myself.”  George looked at him.  “It’s called commission, son.  Every man for himself in this man’s army.”