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Royal Deeside :
Aboyne Wartime Poetry - Poems 3

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Oor Sodger Loons", &c.,

A. Buchan,

This is an "Aboyne History 2000 Project"

Poems 3

Tae Sister Jean

Researched, published and printed by Jim Cheyne 3 Craigendinnie Crescent, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, AB34 5HZ Scotland. Email jim.cheyne@btopenworld.com

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Go To Page Introduction Acknowledgements Poems 1 Poems 2 Tae Sister Jean

Tae Sister Jean

Tae sister JEAN, across the sea-
A guid New Year I wish to thee:
Tae Joe, an' Rose, an' Lily, tee,
A prosperous NewYear I wish the three.

Noo, Isabel,-a sister tee,
An' Ethel,-aye as keen's a bee,-
I wish ye weel (the same as me)-
A happy Hogmanay!

The Auld Year it has closed its een:
A sad an' sorry year it's been;
In hooses far there's been a foy,
There's sorrow noo instead o' joy.

Oor bonnie loons, wi' curly hair,
Are lyin' dead awa' oot there;
Their dauntless courage they do show
In foreign lands where'er they go.

But God be with our gallant lads,
In danger be their stay!
The treach'rous Huns that fear not God,
They'll never win the day.

Notes on the poem "Tae Sister Jean".

Sister Jean, she was across the sea in the USA having been posted there as a Salvation Army Officer. Joe was her husband and Rose and Lily their two children. Isabel was another sister and Ethel her daughter. Isabel's husband had died young so is not mentioned in the poem. Early on in the century Isabel had gone to Boston to bring Jean home but instead landed up being a Salvation Army officer and serving in California.

Aboyne suspension bridge 1917
Suspension Bridge c1900


1 The minister was the Rev. J.D. McKenzie, known as "Blin Bob". He was known as Blin Bob because whenever he was talking to a "toff" he did not recognise the ordinary member of his congregation. Died about 1920. His wife was a Nairn, the family of which had a large linoleum company in Kirkcaldy. She only came to Aboyne for four weeks in a year. When her husband died, in the 1930's she built Doraveh, over the bridge.

2 "A hoose jist owre the brig". Six sons and two sons-in-law went to war from there. This was the house at the very end of the bridge called Wellhouse. James and Jessie Cattanach lived there and had a grocers shop. They had a family of seven sons and seven daughters. The queen once stopped at the shop and bought 'pandrops'. The family were know to royalty because Jessie looked after the house on the edge of the Queens Loch. Two sons were killed in the war. Henry who died on 29/10/14 aged 22 years and George who died on 26/7/16 aged 21 years. They
served in the 2nd and 7th battalions of the Gordon Highlanders respectively and are buried in France. In the 1920's and 30's this was the meeting place of the boys and girls of Birse and Aboyne.

3 "Alberta" Just off Golf Road, on Formaston Park. This was the home of the Middletons. Seven went to war and three were killed. The boys immigrated to Canada together and came back in Canadian regiments to fight and die in the war. Archibald Middleton, 49th Batt Canadian E.F., (Killed 10/10/1916). Charles D Middleton, 8th Batt. Canadian E.F. (Killed 14/6/1916) and John Middleton, 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles (Killed 7/4/1917).

Middleton memorial Aboyne War Memorial - three Middleton loons

4 "There's fower o' oors" There were four Buchan loons that went to war. Two were killed, Albert Buchan (Killed 23/4/1917 aged 27) and Ralph Buchan (Killed 27/6/1916 aged 20), two survived. The two survivors were Harry, who became manager of Kennerty Milk in Aberdeen, and Marshall.

Buchan memorial Aboyne War Memorial - twa Buchan loons

5 "Zepp'lins" One came across Aberdeen in 1914.

6 "Admiral Beatty" David Beatty, 1st Earl (1871-1916) British Admiral in World War 1. He commanded a cruiser squadron 1912-1916 and bore the brunt of the Battle of Jutland 1916. In 1916 he became commander of the Fleet and in 1918 received the surrender of the German fleet. At the Battle of Jutland he said: "There's something wrong with our bloody ships today". He was considered a hero when this poem was written and was considered so into the 1920's but by modern day standards he would only be a third rate admiral.

7 "Lion and Tiger". HMS Lion and HMS Tiger were battlecruisers, They were big, and they were fast but were so lightly armed that they were deemed utter failures. Our poet believed our own propaganda when he wrote that verse. They both fought at the Battle of Dogger Bank in January 1915 and at the Battle of Jutland, 31 May and 1 June 1916. Neither of the ships was capable of putting up a fight against the German ships, at both of these battles both ships suffered damage. We don't know what happened to HMS Lion but HMS Tiger was sold for scrap in 1932.

8 "Vacant chair" This would have been son Ralph who was killed on 27 June 1916.

9 "Lord Kitchener" Horatio Herbert, Earl of Kitchener Khartoum (1850-1916). As War Minister during World War 1 he was a source of inspiration to British soldiers during a successful recruitment campaign with the slogan "Your country needs You". Kitchener was drowned when his ship was sunk on the way to Russia.

10 "Horses" The horses from the Huntly Arms Hotel were called to the war and sent to France. Trains from the goods yard at Aboyne railway station transported them. The children of the village cried as they were put on board the railway trucks. A veteran of that war told me that he remembered seeing horses standing in mud up to their knees, shivering with cold or fear. He said that he was a townie but could recognise that the horses were in a bad way. Sad that when demobilised in 1918-19 the weary and out of condition horses simply glutted the market and went to the slaughterers in their thousands.

11 "Blue one as well" Blue Cross, name given to a British organisation for the care of horses and dogs in warfare, irrespective of nationality. Run on Red Cross lines and supported by voluntary contributions. It was founded in 1912 during the Balkan war. During the Great War it assisted horses of the British, French and Belgian armies and the American expeditionary force.

12 James Ramsay of Waterside died on 4 August 1932 aged 74 years. A son, Signaller Francis John Ramsay, 7th Battalion Gordon Highlanders died of wounds in Tourgoing Military Hospital on 15 May 1918 aged 21 years. Their other son, James Ramsay, farmed at Waterside until he died on 18 October 1964 aged 64 years.

13 "Sandy Shaw" This was a man that was called "Bugger" Shaw because of his habit of using this swear word. He only appeared at Michael Fair and stayed in a shed at the mart. The village youths threw stones at the shed, probably to rile him and get him to use his favourite word. Our poet infers that cars were as frequent as Sandy Shaw. (Michael Fair was at the Aboyne mart, where the supermarket is now located, and was held over a three week period in September every year).

14 Alexander Fowler, Roadside Cottage, Birse, died 21 September 1940 aged 74 years. Another Fowler, Andrew, was the lamplighter in Aboyne, he lit the paraffin streetlights. He carried a small ladder and had a duster hanging out of his pocket, which he used to clean the globe of the lamp. One day he was up his ladder cleaning the globe when a small boy, by the name of Rob Burnett, passed and shouted up to him, "I can see your bits through the hole in the arse of your breeks". Andrew was nicknamed "Leerie the Lamp Lighter" and he lived in the first house on the right hand side going up Balfour Road, Birsemore Cottage. This was the last thatched house in Aboyne. It would have been slated about 1954.

15 "pick oor men" Football and cricket matches were between the Cottagers and the Millburners. The dividing line was from the Free Church, which is now the Masonic Hall, across to Bon a Vista. All the boys to the west of the line were Cottagers and those to the east were Millburners. The Cottagers were named after the Huntly Cottages which were mini tenements. Up until the 1950's most of the native inhabitants of Aboyne were born or had lived in the Cottages at one time or the other, I was no exception. The Millburners came from the east end of Aboyne and the name was associated with cottages that were near to the where the old Mill Burn ran into the Tarland burn.

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Aboyne war memorial alchove
Aboyne War Memorial Alcove


Aboyne Victory Hall
Aboyne Victory Hall built as a memorial to WWI

Aboyne Bridge across the River Dee
Aboyne Bridge across the River Dee, c2004




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Introduction A History of Royal Deeside The Deeside Railway The Old Military Road Old Kirkyardst
Queen Victoria and Royal Deeside John Brown, Loyal Servant Francis Farquharson Lord Byron, poet Alexander Gordon
Macbeth and Braemar Braemar Gathering and Highland Games History of Braemar Clan Farquharson Bridges of Ballater
19th Century Ballater History of Dinnet area Aboyne History Aboyne Wartime Poetry Aboyne Great War Records
History of Dinnet History of Tarland Scott Skinner, the Strathspey King Glen O' Dee Hospital Brunel's Bridge
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