My father was at the Battle of the Somme. Wartime Memories: An excerpt from The Glens of Antrim Historical Society’s Oral History Project.


My father was at the Battle of the Somme and came through it. He wasn’t really 18 but he let on he was 18. He was a few weeks off it. He was a shoemaker, he cobbled. My mother was 25 when she got married. My father was the same age, just a few months of difference between them.

Oh he sat and he told us stories and stories, about being in the trenches, and about the horses and about the Germans; hearing the Germans chittering in the front line. They were only a bit apart, you know, and you should have heard him acting the Germans, oh aye.

Terrible, muddy and wet in the trenches. Tommy Tickler’s jam we used to send him out. I think it was mostly jam, bread and jam, I don’t know what they got but there was a song they had ‘Tommy Tickler’s Jam.’ “One pint pot, sent from Blighty in ten ton lots every night, when I’m asleep, I am dreaming I am eating Tommy Tickler’s jam”.

tickler's jam


Tickler’s Jam. Tickler’s Jam,
How I love Tom Tickler’s Jam,
Plum and apple in one pound pots
Sent from England in ten ton lots.

Every night when I’m asleep,
I’m dreaming that I am,
Bombing the poor old Germans’ trench
With Tommy Tickler’s Jam.



He used to sing that to us, ‘Tommy Tickler’s Jam.’ And when we would have got him started, you know, my father, he was a quite young man, but he related stories to us about war, about being in the trenches and all that sort of thing. France, he spent a terrible lot of his time in France.

Oh the Somme, that was a terrible, terrible massacre. Once in a blue moon he would have talked about it. We weren’t really interested. (Annie Reid)

The War Effort

Oh yes, I remember, you know, all the talk about the troops and all. I remember, when we got a wee bit older and were just beginning to knit, being given khaki wool and we knit scarves, you know. That was just plain and purl knitting, and we did those, and then, older ones knit jerseys and things for the troops, or waistcoats, you know, just anything to help the war effort, as it were.

I had an uncle in the war. I didn’t see him all that often or anything, you know, but I knew he was in the war. He was a soldier in the war. It was a very troublesome time, although when you’re young you don’t think much about it, you know. You don’t really, I suppose, fully understand. The war was 1914 so I was born in 1906, I would have been eight years of age. I remember hearing all the reports, you know, in the paper and there was such tragedies; ones being killed, you know, even men that we would have known who had gone to the war, and then maybe, were only there a short time to some were killed.(Ethel Bruce)

Great Rejoicing

The War, the First World War was over when I was 8 year old. I remember the day it was over. The policeman came up to the school, Ramoan School to tell us that the war was over and we all got out and cheered and we all got home. (Mary McCurdy)

Oh yes the war was over. There was great rejoicing and all, even in the streets, you know, in the villages and all the places, because everybody was so delighted that the war was over. Yes I do remember that. There was terrific joy, you know, and parties and goings on at night, and dances and various things. Just a bit of rejoicing, as it were, that the war was over.

Those times were awfully hard, when I think of it now, because troops, weren’t given all the facilities, even that they are now, you know, for where they would stay? They were packed into some place that wasn’t very nice maybe just, you know, to stay. As they talked about, bunked down, just here and there and everywhere. It was a very difficult time. (Ethel Bruce)

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