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David Hume: December 1914

David Hume: December 1914

In Memory of Private Thomas Craig, Scots Guards Ballyboley, County Antrim, enlisted at Liverpool 1914, died 1916

December nineteen fourteen
and you never made it home
although you sent a postcard;
hoped the war would soon be done.
A farmer’s son from Antrim
you left the braes to roam
but in December 1914
you never made it home.

You sent to her a postcard
- were you feeling all alone?
when you told her of the lucky ones
whose leave would bring them home
They were coming back for Christmas
but you were not the one
and in December nineteen fourteen
you never made it home.

She kept your postcard all her life
she treasured it with pride
for in a sister’s heart she knew
that a hero light had died.
And sometimes by the fireside
with the child upon her knee
her mind would stray to far-off lands
and a cross beneath the trees.

September nineteen sixteen
and you never made it home,
the third wound was the final one
that left her there to mourn.
She had no chance to say farewell
at the place where you had gone
and she wished that there had been the time
for you to come back home.

She kept your postcard, with some pride,
and held the memory by her side;
her first born son would take your name
your service medals now are mine
passed further down along the line.
Someday I’ll take them back and search for you
and speak her name beside your stone
to let you know; she always cared
that you never got back home.

December nineteen fourteen
and you never made it home..

Private Thomas Craig - Born Ballyboley, County Antrim - Died Ypres, Belgium, 1916

Thomas Craig enlisted in the Scots Guards in 1914 after the outbreak of the First World War. Regimental records show that he enlisted in Liverpool and was to be wounded a total of three times during the conflict. He died in September 1916 of wounds received and was interred at Bernafay Wood Cemetery, Belgium.

Thomas Craig was the brother of Agnes Craig, who married William James Hume of Monterloney. In her possessions Agnes kept a postcard of the squad to which her brother belonged, and the poignant message that he would not be among the lucky ones getting home for Christmas 1914. Family history tells us little about Thomas; why he enlisted in Liverpool remains a mystery.

This poem “December 1914” was running through my mind for some weeks before I wrote it down. The poignancy of the card made me imagine what it had been like for Agnes to know that her brother was far away and in grave danger. Agnes died in 1926, ten years after her brother. My father was named Thomas Hanna Craig Hume, probably in honour of his uncle from Ballyboley.

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