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Thursday, 15 September 2016

A poem in memory of the Battle of Courcelette - September 15, 1916


by William Neil "Bill" Meagher

Village square, Courcelette, France (April 2015).

Early on an autumn morning
Facing famous Courcelette
Lay the Twenty-Fifth Battalion
In the trenches, damp and wet.

Far away from home and kindred
On the far famed River Somme
Here and there a man lay dying,
Stricken by a shell or bomb.

Men of every trade and calling
Of each Company formed a part—
Daisny youth and bearded manhood
From the town and from the mart.

Miners, Sailors, Farmers, Tradesmen,
From each hamlet, town and glen
Born of Nova Scotia’s Mothers
From a breed of manly men.

All alert and ever watching—
On the guard, both day and night;
Each one ever his part doing
In the struggle for the right.

Always thinking of the homeland,
In far away Acadie,
Of a mother, wife or sister,
Whom they never more might see.

On the high hills overlooking
All the country, down below,
In their deep concreted dugouts
Lay the ever watchful foe.

With artillery, commanding
All the plains, for miles around
Through which like a thread of silver
River Somme, its free way wound.

There were Saxons and Bavarians
In that Hun’s embattled host;
And the fierce and bloody Uhlans,
Whom the Kaiser loved the most.

Here they stood in close formation
Like a solid, human block
Fronted by the famous fighters,
Called the Troops of Battle Shock.

When upon the morn in question
Just about the break of day,
Word, the Twenty-Fifth was given
To get ready for the fray.

And they came out of their trenches,
Like the wild Lynx, with a hound,
And they rushed without a falter
Right across the barrage ground.

And they fell upon the Germans
Like an avalanche of hail,
And the Prussians bent before them
Like the grain before the gale.

And with irresisting fury
They assailed the faltering Hun
And before the day was over
Famous Courcelette was won.

Let the mothers tell their children
Whom they nurse upon their breast,
And the teachers tell their pupils
In the schools from East to West.

Hard at Courcelette’s fierce battle
An undying name was made,
By the Twenty-Fifth Battalion
Of the fighting Fifth Brigade.

William Neil “Bill” Meagher was born on July 4, 1882 at Mulgrave, NS, son of Maurice and Mary Ann (MacNeil) Meagher. Bill attested for military service with the 64th Battalion at Sussex, NB on September 15, 1915. He was employed as a “locomotive wiper” at the time of his enlistment.

Later transferred to the 25th Battalion, Bill served in Belgium and France with the distinguished Nova Scotian unit. On one occasion, Bill suffered gun shot wounds to his head and left forearm. He served overseas for the war’s duration and was discharged from military service on May 15, 1919.

Returning to Mulgrave, Bill married Alice Robena Carr and raised a family of six children. Bill was  harbourmaster and operated a garage and store in the local community. He passed away at Mulgrave on January 4, 1967 and was laid to rest in St. Lawrence Roman Catholic Cemetery, Mulgrave, NS.

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