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

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