Chapter 5 Finally away from home


After being sent away from home by his father, Jack’s intuition was to proceed to his friend George Pickles, taking his essential belongings and uniform with him. George had joined the army a year earlier and was in 6th Liverpool Rifles, First Line Battalion. It surprised George to see his friend when he opened the front door, and even more so when he saw Jack’s bags. He invited Jack in. When Jack explained his father had sent him out of the house, George immediately understood. George spoke to his mother who said she was happy to let Jack stay the night. 

The next morning George took Jack to his aunt’s house on Smithdown Road, just two streets away from Jack’s home on Barrington Road. The aunt showed him a spare room and said he could be a paying guest. As he was George’s friend she only asked for a nominal rent, which included an evening meal. No visitors were allowed. 

Jack settled in to his ‘digs’ and, looking out of the window, he let out a sigh of relief. At last he was independent. He had his own space, was away from his father. They only required him to attend army training on evenings or Saturdays, so he continued with the job he enjoyed. As art classes clashed with army training, he dropped them, regretting he’d not meet his classmates, especially Miss Grime.

‘H’ Company trained mainly in Princes Park which was where their barracks were. It was half an hour’s walk from Smithdown Road and Jack viewed the walk as part of his physical training. They regularly had weekend camps in the countryside where they picketed and trained in a more realistic setting. 

The march to camp was always a grand and memorable activity for Jack. He would make sure his boots and uniform were clean and smart and that he had packed his rucksack carefully. Walking into Princes Park, he saw the impressive number of men mustering. Eventually, the Colonel gave the final moving order, “Advance in fours to right of companies” and they marched off. The rattle of the kettle-drums and the shrill clarion of the bugles thrilled him.  They paraded through the streets of Liverpool, being sure to march correctly before the populace.

New recruits were put through basic training, to enhance physical fitness and confidence and to instil discipline and obedience. The day at camp commenced with Reveille (a bugle call to wake the recruits) at 5.30 a.m.. After dressing, cleaning their quarters and having tea, at 6.30 a.m. they paraded to work on their general condition. After breakfast at 8 a.m., the morning was spent learning to march, for example, form fours and about turn . After lunch they drilled again till the end of the afternoon. The unlucky ones were given jobs to do around the camp while the others were off duty, except for time spent cleaning boots.  

After settling into his new life, Jack was ready to go back to evening art classes by the Summer. He enrolled again for the new 1912-13 school year, choosing evenings that wouldn’t clash with his army training. When lessons started, he was glad to see the other students again, including Miss Grime. They were friendly to each other while both were content to keep their relationship that way. He had the feeling she was close to Frank Redmond and he didn’t want to approach her and be rejected just now. The months of not seeing Miss Grime had allowed Jack to take a step back and enjoy the company of others.

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  1. I’m enjoying reliving the story. So much nicer reading it here, and it feels more ‘real’ and complete in your blog.

  2. Michael, I’m not sure what you’re saying here. “The unlucky ones were given jobs to do around the camp while the others were off duty, besides spending time to clean boots.” Perhaps try: while the others were off duty, except for time spent cleaning their boots.

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