Gordon Kerr-Smith
Gordon Kerr-Smith
Illustrations by D. Ferguson
Near Sheffield, in t' dark Middle Ages,
In a village that's called Eccleshall, 
Lived peasant by t' name of Fred Potter -
A nice lad, fit, strappin' and tall.

Now young Fred were no' but just married,
And t' novelty still were brand new.
They hadn't 'ad rip-roarin' row yet.
There were nowt for 'is wife 'e'd not do!

Thus Frederick, though 'umble, were 'appy:
Wi' life 'e were chuffed as could be,
Till t' day missus sent 'im to t' chip shop
To buy fish and chips for their tea.

'Ah'll be back in a flash', Fred said, brightly,
And with a groat clutched in 'is 'and
'E rushed off t' t' chip shop in t' village - 
And that's where 'e first 'eard the Band!

In those days the great British Army
Were constantly scrappin' wi' France.
There were nowt new in that! - They'd been at it
For years, just whenever they'd chance!

But because some got killed, and some scarpered,
The Regiments needed more men,
So, led by the best band in Yorkshire
They'd started recruitin' again. 

The music were stirrin' and martial,
And Fred were quite carried away. -
And before 'e knew right what 'ad ‘appened -
'e'd signed on for year and a day!

'E'd no sooner put pen to paper -
The cross 'e'd made weren't even dry -
When they packed 'im off smartish to trainin'
In case change of mind 'e should try.

On t' North Yorkshire moors Army drilled 'im
In t' use of the Bow, Sword and Pike,
And for hours, wearin' two ton of armour,
They made 'im ride round on a bike!

'Is square-bashin' done, 'e were posted
As a Private, to 'is Reg-i-ment;
And a Year in Provence 'e spent, roasted,
Or livin' in mud in a tent.

But when time came round for 'is demob,
A Captain took Fred to one side
And, smarmy-like, said 'England needs you.-
It's Corporal for you if you'll bide.'

Fred were not all that bright, and 'e couldn't resist
An appeal to 'is National pride.
So he signed on the line, painted stripes on 'is ead,
Quite forgettin' 'is poor waitin' bride. 

And each time the same thing would 'appen -
No finish to t' War seemin' near -
Instead of demob, came promotion,
And Fred moved up t' ranks year by year.

For Five Years 'e served as a Sergeant -
And as Sergeant Major for Ten.
To be t' R.S.M. would cost Twenty,
So Fred went and signed up again.

When 'is next spell were up, 'e were leavin',
When t' King 'isself rode up and said
'I'm makin' you Second Lieutenant.'
'That 'll do me, Your Kingship!' said Fred.

In Twenty More Years 'e were Captain -
Then Major wi' medals galore.
'E spent only Ten Years as Colonel,
And as Brigadier - only Four.

So when 'e were made up to Gen'ral,
'is luck 'e could 'ardly believe;
Though in all the years of 'is service
'e'd never once been 'ome on leave!

So when t' 'Undred Years War were over,
Fred Potter 'ad fought all along.
'E'd got every long-service medal,
So they made im 'is own special gong. 

'Is Demob parade were reet formal -
An 'ighly h'impressive affair.
They brought Barons and Dukes by the coachload
To form Guard of Honour on t' Square.

The King, in presentin' Fred's Medal,
Said as 'ow it were richly deserved,
And 'e 'oped 'e'd be long spared to wear it
With honour to t' Country 'e'd served.

Old Fred were quite choked with emotion.
The tears trickled down 'is grey beard.
So t' King sent 'im 'ome in t' Royal Carriage,
While troops lined the roadside and cheered.

As t' Carriage reached Eccleshall village
A rich smell from t' Chip Shop Fred met,
So 'e purchased two fish and six penn'orth
Wrapped up in t' sports page of t' Gazette.

But once 'ome Fred got no 'ero's welcome -
'E were belted wi' vase off the shelf,
'If it takes you this long goin' a message,'
Said 'is wife, 'then I’d best go meself!'
The end