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“Our special guest today is a Roman general and statesman, so a warm salutation and ‘Salve’ to Julius Gaius Caesar. So Julius Gaius, if I can make so bold, welcome home from your latest campaign in Asia Minor and please tell us all about it. Where did you go, what did you see and what did you get up to over those long months away?”

“Veni, vidi, vici.”

“Haha, very ‘ad rem’, to the point. Seriously Julius, there must be a little more to your campaign. I’m sure your audience is dying to know.”

“Well, no, that’s about it really. One campaign is much like another. ‘Audere est facere’, to dare is to do as we say in the military. You set off with the lads from Legio Decem; a few forced marches; a little sightseeing, getting to know the lie of the land; mingle with the natives; negotiate with their rulers, which on this occasion  culminated in a bit of slash and bash and a battle at Zela. Then we split a few amphora of wine, had an impromptu bacchanalia before a triumphant return home to the adulation of the plebs.”

“Oh ‘mea culpa’, such modesty, Jules. There must have been one or two hairy moments, a few escapades and incidents you can share with us. You know, anecdotes from the edge of the world. You must have kept a diary or despatched the odd wax tablet or papyrus to Rome you can let us in on? Just between us, ‘bona fide’, it’ll go no further.”

“No. As I’ve already said. ‘Ceteris paribus’, all things being equal, it was all in a day’s campaigning. ”

“Oh. Well you must have been showered with tributes, looted and taken treasures from conquered tribes, brought back captured chieftains in chains and cart loads of slaves for the glory of Rome?”

“Err, ‘ars gratia artis’, art for art’s sake, the usual trinkets, some gold for my own coffers, a couple of good horses. That’s about it. The lads in the Legion laid waste the odd settlement or two, got smashed and raised merry hell, as I said earlier, and generally subdued the populace leaving our ‘Roma invicta’ stamp on society. Like I said earlier, all in a day’s campaigning.”

“So, no new discoveries then. No exotic creatures, wild animals, foods and spices, drinks, customs, wonders of the world?”

“No, ‘nihil novi’, nothing new.”

“Oh. So what’s next for our glorious commander in chief? A Gallic charm offensive, silencing the Germanic hoards, ‘Pax Brittanica’, or something closer to home?  Anything you’d like to tell your audience today, Jules?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“So back to work then, Roman nose to the grindstone haha. No time in your schedule for a few weeks off; perhaps a well earned trip south to the Bay of Naples, a spot of R and R, chillaxing in Pompeii or Baia?”

“Well if you must know. I’m looking to further my political ambitions. ‘Lacta est alea’, the die is cast, as you might say, I’m crossing the Rubicon. As for you; you are the stench of a low-life latrine with the brains of a sleeping two year old. ‘Vade retro me, Satana’, get behind me Satan. No, sod it, here, you deserve this; suck my gladius. ‘Valete’.”

 

Words and photographs Copyright © 2018 by Antony J Waller

 

Written for ThirskWriteNow, a group of talented local writers meeting every two weeks at The Golden Fleece Hotel, Thirsk. (If you would like further details please contact me.)

 

 

 

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I didn’t know Jimmy, or James Bellamy to give him his full name. He was my great uncle and died 100 years ago. However, I cannot recall my grandma and great aunt, his sisters, ever mentioning his name or even talking about him. In those days one didn’t, it seems. Jummy first came to my notice years ago when I first started to trace my family past. I had seen the name, Jimmy Bellamy, and noted he had died in the Great War, but looked no further.

Then the events of a few days ago, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele and the commemorative service held to honour the fallen, roused my curiosity. I realised Jimmy might have been there so I turned to the internet. Slowly, one step at a time, I am now finding Jimmy.

I even found a photograph posted on a website. (I had not seen his picture before)

wp0a7e37e2_05_01Jimmy

Jimmy Bellamy joined the 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) soon after the war broke out.

 

 

 

Snippets from a local newspaper, The Grantham Journal, revealed more:-
25th September 1915 – (Jimmy Bellamy) “Visiting friends and relations in the last week or two.”
There was more.
4th March 1916 – “Corp. Bellamy of the Notts and Derbys has been home for a brief spell of leave before departing for the front. His many friends sincerely wish him “God-speed” in doing his bit, and a safe and quick return home.”

Then in Army records I came across a hand written witness statement dated 18th November 1916. It read:-

“Sir
On the night of 18th November 1916, I was in charge of a Patrol which was sent out from the trenches in N Sub Sector Arras. Nothing of importance happened whilst out, until our return.
Whilst creeping through our own wire opposite Bay 93/1 we were fired on by the sentry and no 42199 Pte Leadbitter and one of the Patrol was wounded in the left leg.
I did not hear anyone challenge until after three shots had been fired.
I then jumped up on to the parapet and told the sentry 24118 Pte Handley 15th Btn Sherwood Foresters to stop firing as it was our own men returning from Patrol…”
A little while later The Grantham Journal carried the following news:-
16th December 1916 – “Corp. Bellamy has again been wounded in action, this time badly in the right hand by shrapnel.”

And :-
24th March 1917 – “Corp. Bellamy has also spent three months in Hospital suffering from wounds. He is now completely convalescent, and has been spending a few days at home.”

Jimmy was having an eventful war, as the saying goes. He was clearly on the front line in the trenches and in the thick of the fighting.

The next entry in the newspaper was longer:-
6th October 1917 – “We regret to state that on September 16th, the death took place in action of Sergeant J. Bellamy, son of Mrs. Bellamy, of Dry Doddington. The deceased was only 29 years of age and the only surviving son of a widowed mother. He joined the Forces soon after war broke out, and had been wounded twice. His is another noble life laid down in the cause of liberty and freedom, and in preservation of the women and children of the Motherland. Sergt. Bellamy is the third member of our local roll of honour to fall in the field, and to his young wife and little child, and to the widowed mother, who has lost her only two sons within the brief space of seven weeks, the truest sympathy goes out. The bell tolled in the village when the news of his death came, and memorial hymns were sung in the little grey Church last Sunday.
The following sympathetic letter has been received by his wife from the Second-Lieutenant of his Platoon, and a very kind one from a fellow Sergeant: – B.E.F., September 25th.
Dear Mrs. Bellamy,
It is with very deepest regret, that I have to inform you of the death of your husband, Sergt. J. Bellamy. He was my platoon sergeant, and, in my estimation, the best sergeant in the Battalion. He was killed by a direct hit from a shell in the front line trenches. In his case, death was absolutely instantaneous and he suffered no pain. I always found him an excellent N.C.O., who always did his duty and was very popular with the men. His loss leaves a deep gap which it will be hard to fill. I wish to express my profoundest sympathy with you and your family in your bereavement. He was killed on the 16th, and buried the next day. These are all the details I am able to give you.
I am, yours truly,
J. Greville, 2nd-Lieut.”

He is ‘Remembered with Honour’ on a panel at the Tyne Cot Memorial. There is no grave.
Jimmy, a hundred years on, I have found you.

 

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Footnote: I followed up the reference, ‘who has lost her only two sons within the brief space of seven weeks’. William Bellamy, aged 38, died from pneumonia in late August 1917 ‘at Chesterfield on Government work’. A former Police Constable, he had been working as a miner.

Words and photographs Copyright 2017 by Antony J Waller

 

 

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Now available, my book in paperback
Amazon.co.uk http://amzn.to/2qrRuvc

Amazon.com http://amzn.to/2pndHwN

…(or as an ebook download)

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It’s here…

Available on Amazon from today

 

A specially selected collection of stories and poems, showcasing the talents of members of the thriving writing group, ThirskWriteNow, produced in celebration of the group’s fifth anniversary in September 2016.
Covering virtually every genre, this eclectic mix is guaranteed to delight the most demanding of readers. Step inside and prepare to be be transported, tantalised, amused, intrigued.

Look inside this book.

 Golden Clippings

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Time Slip

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Tomorrow (Thursday) is the autumnal equinox, equal day and night, and marks the last day of summer. The days become shorter as we slip into autumn and approach the Winter Solstice in December. And for some it is a time for celebration.

In pagan mythology the equinox is called Mabon when thanks are given for summer and tribute is paid to the coming darkness. Wiccan festivals include building an altar with offerings of fruit and vegetables; druids gather at Stonehenge to watch the sun rise; the church celebrates Harvest Festival towards the end of September; the Chinese hold a Moon Festival during September; Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year holiday also begins tomorrow.

However, and certainly in recent years, it seems the last days of summer are marked in another way – preparing for Christmas. Yes folks, it may only be September but it’s started already. For weeks trees, lights and decorations have been going up in garden centres, cards hit the shops ages ago, now foodie goodies are on the supermarket shelves (some with a pre Xmas ‘best by’ date); and all before we have even got to Halloween or Bonfire Night. ‘Christmas’ is well and truly out of control.

Perhaps we should move the seasons, shift an equinox or two. Do you think it’s too early to start painting and rolling eggs?

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

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It was late in the day and the grey clouds were threatening to close in on an enthralling afternoon’s cricket at Headingley when I heard the sound; the distinctive opening bars of the ‘Star Wars’ being played on a trumpet. Billy the trumpeter had arrived.

Now as anyone who follows cricket will know there is an honorary member of the Barmy Army and avid cricket fan who likes to take his trumpet to matches to serenade proceedings. I have often heard him at different grounds with his renditions of ‘The Great Escape’, ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ and ‘Coronation Street’ to name but a few but trying to pinpoint the source and spot him and his trumpet in the crowd is like seeking out Wally in those pictures ‘where’s Wally’.

Not this time. A quick snatch of Dvorak’s ‘New World’ followed by ‘Here comes the sun’ and suddenly there he was, on a by now sparsely populated White Rose Stand (the renamed Western Terrace), his silver trumpet glinting in a shaft of sunlight arrowing through the growing gloom, Billy the trumpeter or Billy Cooper to give him his correct name.

Shortly afterwards the final wicket went down, Sri Lanka all out for 91. Well played England (and Billy, and an honour to find you in the crowd and actually see you at last).

PS. And after play had finished for the day I saw him again, this time in front of me, walking up Headingley Mount with his trumpet in a case slung over his shoulder.

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

 

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A popular carol being sung this Christmas in areas of North Yorkshire following the release of new licences to frack…..

No wells

 

Subscribe to Frack Free Ryedale  http://frackfreeryedale.org/

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