Memoirs & Diaries - The Best 500 Cockney War Stories - Scots Reveille and Other Stories

Scots Reveille Published in London in 1921, The Best 500 Cockney War Stories comprised, in the words of its newspaper publisher (The London Evening News) "a remembering and retelling of those war days when laughter sometimes saved men's reason".

The collection of short memoirs, some 500 in total, is divided into five categories - Action, Lull, Hospital, High Seas and Here and There.  This page contains five stories from Lull, led by Scots Reveille.

Other sections within the collection can be accessed using the sidebar to the right.

"There goes them perishin' 'toobs' agin" (click to enlarge)

Scots Reveille

Ours was the only kilted battalion in the division, and our bagpipes were often the subject of many humorous remarks from the other regiments.

On one occasion, while we were out resting just behind the line at Chateau de la Haye, we were billeted opposite a London regiment.  Very early in the morning the bagpipes would sound the Scottish reveille - a rather long affair compared with the usual bugle call - and it did not please our London friends to be awakened in this manner.

One morning while I was on early duty, and just as the pipers were passing, a very dismal face looked out of a billet and announced to his pals inside, "There goes them perishin' 'toobs' again."

Arthur R. Blampied, D.C.M. (late London Scottish), 47 Lyndhurst Avenue, Streatham Hill, S.W.2

In the Negative

A battalion of the London Regiment had been having a particularly gruelling time in the trenches, but some of the men were cheered with thoughts of impending leave.  In fact, permission for them to proceed home was expected at any moment.

At this time the Germans started a "big push" in another sector, and all leave was suddenly cancelled.

An N.C.O. broke the news to the poor unfortunates in the following manner: "All you blokes wot's going on leaf, ain't going on leaf, 'cause you're unlucky."

In spite of the great disappointment, this way of putting it amused even the men concerned.  The real Cockney spiritl

S. C., Brighton

"An' That's All that 'Appened"

Before going up the line we were stationed at Etaples, and were rather proud of our cook-house, but one day the colonel told the sergeant-major that he had heard some of the most unparliamentary language he had ever heard in his life emanating from the cook-house.

The sergeant-major immediately called at the cook-house to find out the cause of the trouble, but our Cockney cook was very indignant.

"What, me Lord Mayor? [slang for 'swear '].  No one's ever 'eard me Lord Mayor."

"Don't lie to me," roared the sergeant-major.  "What's happened here?"

"Nuffin'," said the cook, "except that I slopped a dixie full of 'ot tea dahn Bill's neck.  I said 'Sorry, Bill,' and Bill said 'Granted, 'Arty,' an' that's all what's 'appened."

Ryder Davies (late ist Kent Cyclists, Royal West Kents), 20 Villa Road, S.W.9

Watching them "Fly Past"

Our first big engagement was a counter-attack to recapture the trenches lost by the K.R.R.'s and R.B.'s on July 30, 1915, when "Jerry" used liquid fire for the first time and literally burned our chaps out.

To get into action we had to go across open country in full view of the enemy.  We began to get it "in the neck" as soon as we got to "Hell Fire Corner," on our way to Zillebeke Lake.

Our casualties were heavy, caused by shell fire, also by a German aeroplane which was flying very low overhead and using its machine gun on us.

My pal, Wally Robins (later awarded M.M., promoted corporal, and killed at Lens), our company humorist, was looking up at the 'plane when a shell landed, killing several men in front of him.

As he fell I thought he too had caught it.  I rushed to him anxiously and said, "Are you hurt?"

This was his reply: "I should think I am.  I wish they would keep their bloomin' aeroplanes out of the way.  If I hadn't been looking up at that I shouldn't have fallen over that blinkin' barbed wire stake."

E. W. Fellows, M.M. (late Corporal, 6th Battn., D.C.L.I), 33 Dunlace Road, Clapton, E.5

"'Oo's neck?" (click to enlarge)

High Necks and Low

After the first Battle of Ypres in 1914 the Scots Guards were being relieved by a well-known London regiment.  A diminutive Cockney looked up at a six-foot Guardsman and asked him what it was like in the front line.

"Up to your neck in mud," said the Guardsman.

"Blimey, oo's neck?" asked the little chap.

H. Rogers (late 116th Battery, 1st Div. R.F.A.), 10 Ashley Road, Richmond, Surrey

Next - Too Light - By One Rissole and four other stories

A "Dixie" (from the Hindi degci) was an army cooking pot.

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Cockney War Stories