On Armistice Day
cheering crowds thronged the streets
and how the bands played!
But those joyous songs the people sang
served only to heighten your sense of sadness,
for they signified for you imminent redundancy.
The last of your boys were finally moving on.
There were no long drawn-out goodbyes,
just a few half-hearted pledges to keep in touch.
You'd been there for them when they'd needed you,
it was as simple as that.
Please remind me again -
how many broken minds did you mend?
symbolised the end of an era for you.
secretly filled you with dread.
you'd smiled and celebrated with the rest
whilst trying hard to feign euphoria.
Meanwhile, all you could do
was await orders from above,
knowing it was inevitable
that you'd soon be exiled
from your beloved Craiglockheart.
It was unthinkable - you'd invested
heart and soul in that place
that had become so much more than home to you.
How apprehensive and weary you felt -
and your nervous stammer was worsening daily.
But the British Army had no compassion
for a severely damaged psychiatrist
who had become shell shocked by his patients.
You'd served your purpose
and now you were an embarrassment to them.
So they hastily signed your discharge papers
then sent you on your way.
And it seemed to you that not a living soul cared...
But oh how wrong you were!
What of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen?
Neither of those great war poets ever forgot you -
your name crops up frequently in their memoirs
with unmistakable affection and gratitude...
And now there is me -
an unknown insignificant, I know,
but you will be none-the-less in my thoughts
on this Remembrance Sunday in twenty-sixteen.
Oh Dr. Rivers,
I have read your books and digested your papers,
and have learnt so much from you.
You were a genius of your time.
And I will remember you
William Halse Rivers Rivers