Katharine Tynan, a well known Irish poet and part of the Irish revival movement, saw the 1st Battalion of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent regiment embark in Dublin 1914 heading for le Havre, arriving August 15. Their departure triggered her poem Joining the Colours, below, which vividly documented the scene. It is interesting to see how the regimental records* then show how the hopes and fears expressed in the poem played out in the next month’s campaign – from cheers and admiration at their departure, arrival and eastward travel across France, to the reality of the battles of Mons and le Cateau to cold casualty figures recorded in September. Truly 'high courage' to 'they shall kiss no more'. Here is her poem:
JOINING THE COLOURS
There they go marching all in step so gay!
Smooth-cheeked and golden, food for shells and guns.
Blithely they go as to a wedding day,
The mothers’ sons.
The drab street stares to see them row on row
On the high tram-tops, singing like the lark.
Too careless-gay for courage, singing they go
Into the dark.
With tin whistles, mouth-organs, any noise,
They pipe the way to glory and the grave;
Foolish and young, the gay and golden boys
Love cannot save.
High heart! High courage! The poor girls they kissed