Saturday, June 06, 2020

At the arrival of the Twenty-First Century it was decided that the Arborfield Garrison would be closed down and the land converted to urban development. A hundred year garrison history about to disappear.


There’s a little place in Berkshire County, down by Reading way,
It isn’t very big, quite undistinguished, some might say.

And yet, it’s known by thousands, maybe millions, mostly men
Who came and spent some time there, passing through or, then again,
Returning to it regularly over many years,
A place for some of memorable times, for others new careers.

It all began there well over one hundred years ago,
The army needed horses, hence a large remount depot
Was located at the village, being accommodation for
The horses which passed through on their way to the First Great War;
And when the war was ended, it then was left unused
For horses were redundant, as the war had clearly proved.

But then, as years elapsed and war clouds gathered yet once more,
This place became the birthplace of a fledgling military Corps
Forged from the fiery furnace of war’s technical demands,
From fields of Europe to the distant, far-off desert sands,
It gathered all the artisans from home and overseas
Who came together, founding a great Army dynasty.

So, from this first beginning in those troubled, war–torn years,
The Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Carved out a name, so well deserved, for skill and expertise,
In their demanding role in seeing that the Army’s wheels
Kept turning at those crucial times of triumph or disaster,
When first class training would decide who was the final master.

And this is where this place, this village with its leafy lanes
Has welcomed thousands of young men and boys to come and train
In technical achievement to maintain, repair, inspect
All manner of devices due to damage or neglect,
Some were volunteers who came to make a fine career,
While others served their National Service after training here.

But in these modern times, when change is often made by those
Who sit in judgement far away in remote, lofty pose,
Complacency is ill advised, and facts somehow contrive,
To change, and in collective wisdom, the time has now arrived
For all that once had gone before, that place of work and play
Is now gone while a new chapter is opened far away.

And what of Arborfield where all those memories reside?
A history distinguished, now fated to be filed
In musty books, a passing phase – hardly worth a glance
To those who in the future come to read it just by chance.
But to us who still remember it with reminiscent smile
It stands as proud as any place in this, our Sceptre’d Isle!


The Featured Bards