The year was nineteen forty-six
As we sat on the close at the hill,
Awaiting the arrival from Palestine
Of my favourite Uncle Bill.
We heard the grind of the engine
In that bus all battered and worn,
Bringing Billy back to his kinfolk
And the cot where he was born.
Our eyes were transfixed on the Hollow
Along the flat of the road,
Standing there to the front of the cottage
Which was my Granny’s abode.
The bus then pulled in at the Churchyard
Of Ballylesson, known as ‘Drumbo’,
A whistle alerted old ‘Darkie’ the dog
And down the hill he did go.
Years had passed, but the dog still knew
That clarion call of old,
As he ran to see his Master
The returning Warrior bold.
We cheered as he came to the cross-roads
With kitbag held on the shoulder,
Wearing boots under gaiters and battledress
The garb of every soldier.
Then that canine bundle collided with him
As the kitbag was flung to the ground,
Yelping, laughter and barking
Were the sounds to be heard all around.
Grandfather at toil on the hillside,
Stepped out and away from the plough,
A hand raised to fend off the sunlight,
He watched from under his brow.
Enthralled and enraptured to see him
The dog pranced about at his feet,
As Billy walked up the ‘Loanin’
Anxious for us to meet.
Granny went forward to greet him,
As she hugged, the beret fell from his head;
She thanked God for the return of her youngest,
The son who could have been dead.
After this there was talk and rejoicing,
With many a tale to tell;
Then from the Church as if in salute to the brave,
I heard the toll of the Belfry Bell
Monty Alexander 1.1.97