If you would like a look at the script for the Wishaw Area Schools Film Project here it is.
It is rather long and it has lots of dialogue in Scots, but it will give you an idea of what we hope to produce when shooting starts in August.
The Queen’s Pyjama’s
A dramatized account of Willie Angus V.C.
Wishaw Schools World War One Heritage Project
Gerry O’Brien, June 2018
This screenplay is the product of collaboration between students, teachers and Community Learning staff from the Wishaw and Shotts area.
After a series of development meetings and discussions the life of Willie Angus was settled upon as the focus for the project and this script was written.
It should be noted that whilst the script does its best to use the known facts about Willie Angus and the events leading to is award of the Victoria Cross, that it is a dramatization of his life. As such, dialogue, characters and places are intended to catch the spirit of the times.
Scene 1: The Football Field
Scene 2: Post-match analysis
Scene 3: The Changing Room
Scene 4: Hearth and Heart
Scene 5: The Fitba Strip
Scene 6: The Parade: the HLI leave Carluke
Scene 6.1: On the Tram
Scene 7: In the trenches- the raid goes wrong
Scene 8: The Aftermath
Scene 9: Have a drink of this Tommy!
Scene 10: “Ah cannae listen tae this”
Scene 11: Generals and Corporals
Scene 12: Going Over the top
Scene 13: The Rescue
Scene 14: In the Hospital- The Queen’s Pyjamas
Scene 15: At the Palace
Scene 16: Homecoming
Exterior, daytime, brightly lit by sunshine
Old Willie Angus
Peter Angus, Willie’s grandson
Margaret Angus- in voice over
Long shot frames the scene from behind.
An old man and a young boy are seen walking through a field of wildflowers.
Cut to medium shot of the man and boy from the front
Peter: (Eager, energetic jumping around his grandfather) Grandad, my mammie said you were a brave soldier in the war. Is that true?
Old Willie: (terse, tight-lipped, does not want to talk about this) Aye son, there’s some out there wid say that.
Peter: So, did you kill hunners o’ Jerry’s then- (Peter mimes holding a gun and makes a machine gun noise)
Old Willie: (Smiling but pretending to be grumpy- holds his ears and then points at the boy) Peter, if ye have a wheesht, now wid be a grand time tae haud it!
Cut to close up of Peter looking disappointed. Willie relents and softens his expression. He puts his hands on Peter’s shoulders and creakingly eases himself down to eye level with his grandson. He speaks soothingly and wistfully.
Old Willie: Aye, ah wis supposed tae be a hero and they gave me a medal. Ah wis really only trying tae help a young lad oot though…
Willie pauses and looks around the field although there is the sense that his gaze is going beyond what he sees in front of him.
Old Willie: Here! D’ye know wits better than medals? (Cut to Peter’s face- he shakes his head, bewildered).
Cut back to Willie and Peter- their faces are in the same frame. Willie is pointing out across the field as he identifies the flowers. Peter’s eyes follow his grandfather at first but turns to face him when he speaks about the waves of grass
Flooers, fields full o’ flooers like buttercups and daisy’s and clover and grass that rolls in big waves for ye tae run through.
Willie picks up a buttercup, he holds it under Peter’s chin. We see the soft golden glow of light there. Willie ruffles Peter’s hair and the child smiles again
Old Willie: Ah knew it! A wee lad that likes butter. Time we were heading hame for a piece and a wee cuppa eh?
Willie struggles to stand up again and holds out his hand for Peter and they hold hands. Cut to long shot of Peter and Old Willie walking through the field. Willie will occasionally stop to look at a flower, pointing it out to Peter.
Margaret: He never liked talking about this story.
Lots of boys went to war in 1914 with a smile on their lips. My brother, Willie Angus, was one of them.
He was a great footballer, full of life, loved weans.
He went out of his way to help folk, wouldn’t do you a wrong turn.
I watched him grow into a fine young man and march off to war. I was proud of him that day, but I was frightened for him too.
I don’t think he realised how terrible the trenches would be, how many of the lads around him would die.
But he stayed the same boy who would help you out.
When another young lad from Carluke got himself stranded in no-man’s land, it was Willie who tried to save him.
He brought that lad back.
The King gave him a medal and Willie’s life was changed forever.
My brother is a hero, but he paid for that medal.
This is his story.
Cut to opening titles
The Football Field- Wishaw Thistle Game
Willie Angus- dark haired, composed, wiry but strong, open friendly expression
Andra Souter- Wishaw Thistle Player- slight, mercurial, intelligent, passionate in expressing ideas
Two football Teams
Mr McKenna- Team Manager. Middle aged and respectable. Proud and dignified but also affable and warm
Caption: Wishaw 1914
Opening long shot of game in progress.
Willie makes a run from midfield and is fouled outside the penalty box.
There is a nasty stud scar on Willie’s shin.
Willie gets up, dust himself down and shakes hands with the opponent who fouled him.
Willie: Oof! That wis a hefty dig big man! Nae hard feelings though, eh?
Cut to Willie Organising his team for a free kick. Medium Close Up
Willie: Right lads. Were inside the last five minutes here, ah want ye aw pushin’ hard. Just wan big last push!
Andra, you take the free kick. Remember the training boys!
Long shot of free kick being taken. Andra Souter takes the free kick. Willie loses his marker and makes a run through the defence, knocking the cross in at the back post.
Willie is politely mobbed by his team. Shoulders are clapped and hands are shaken.
The players line up for the restart and the game recommences
After the ball is knocked about for a two or three passes the referee looks at his watch and blows the final whistle.
Andra and Willie walk off together- shoulder-to-shoulder. Andra puts his arm around Willie’s shoulders and pat his back
Scene 2 Post-Match Analysis
Exterior, daylight, at the football field
Medium shot from the back of the two players as they walk towards Mr McKenna- team manager.
Andra: Whit a goal Willie! That clinched this one for us.
Willie: Cheers Andra, it was your cross that made it but!
Mr McKenna: Well done lads, a magnificent performance and what a goal from my Captain. It was one of my best moves, getting you in the side Willie…
I’ll tell you though… I’ll be sad to lose you to the army, but King and country come first son. When are the territorials taking you away?
Willie: Ah’ve another week before ah’m mobilised sir, so this is ma last match.
Mr McKenna: Aye son, well if you fight the war the way ye play the game you’ll have the Hun on the run in jig time.
Willie: Ach, I’ll just aim tae dae ma bit sir. Ah’m no up for ony heroics. A bit o’ excitement is fine but ah might no even make it oot tae France. They’re sayin’ it will be aw finished for Christmas. So, ah might just get tae swagger aboot in a fine uniform for a while and impress the lassies.
Mr McKenna: I would take what “they” say with a wee pinch of salt son. The army has a way of haudin’ on to men once it gets them. I remember my brothers wee jaunt to South Africa to fight the Boers…
But enough o’ that you lads get away and get changed.
Scene 3 – The Changing Room
Fade to interior of the changing room. There is singing and chanting from the team in the baths.
Andra and Willie are sitting on bench.
They are drinking from a stone flagon of ginger beer.
Willie rolls his sock down and looks at the stud scar. It is bleeding openly on his leg.
Medium shot of both players gradually pulling into tighter frame on their faces.
Andra: Will ye look at that Willie! That wis some clout that big centre-half gave ye. Ah don’t know how ye kept yer cool. Ah wanted tae lay him flat.
Willie: Och Andra. Whit good wid that hae done? Ah’d ah been aff, they’d would’ve got a free kick and walked away wi’ a draw they didnae deserve. Ye have tae keep yer cool.
Andra: Yer right, when ye shook the big louts haun he knew he’d done wrong. The donkey might hae been six inches taller than you, but who walked away the bigger man?
Willie laughs and shakes his head- takes another drink from the bottle and passes it to Andra
Andra: Well, ye’ve thought that wan through, that’s for sure. But what’s this auld McKenna wis talkin’ aboot. You being mustered by the army? Ah thought ye were just playin’ at sojers when ye started wi’ the Territorials
Willie: Ah’ve taken the King’s Shilling. Ah’m away wi’ the HLI for sure. Mibbe it’s time for a wee adventure, bit o’ foreign travel… Like ah wis saying, its probably no gonnae amount tae much….
Andra takes a deep drink from the flagon and passes it to Willie who also takes a deep drink. He does not wipe the top of the bottle before drinking.
Andra: And dae ye ken whit aw this is aboot? Have ye thought through the fact that ye might be going oot tae kill Germans? Mibbe working men like you? Whit have they ever done tae you?
Willie- (laughing) : Is this another wan ae they lectures about socialism yer gonnae gie me Andra? Ah’ve heard them aw before fae ye.
The simple fact is ah’ve signed on the line and ah’ll honour ma word. It’s no a contract ye can walk away fae once ye’ve signed it.
And anyway, less o’ this workin’ man nonsense. Ah play fitba for a livin’. Better than bein’ doon the pit and that’s a fact.
Andra: (slightly huffy): Aye, well, remember that this is a bosses war- it isnae your fight Willie!
Willie: (serious) Andra, ah’ve nae choice, an’ like ah said tae McKenna, ah’ll be back by Christmas…
Willie takes another drink from the flagon
Andra: Well speaking o’ McKenna, dae ye know whit he was talking about South Africa for?
Willie: Naw, ah didnae catch the drift o’ that
Andra: His young brother joined the army during the Boer War. Wis wan hundreds massacred at Sion Kop. Led into a useless position by some daft toff of a general and shot tae pieces by the Boers who surrounded them in the night. Ah’m surprised ye hadnae remembered it. It wis aw ower the papers back when we were at school. They even named fitba grounds efter the place. That big new stand they built in Liverpool is called the Kopp ye know.
Willie: The paper and the news and public meetings are your business. Andra. Ah like a bit o’ action!
Andra: Oh, ah know that ye dafty. Just remember the action might take a bit mair oot ae ye than the chunk of flesh that big centre-half helped himself tae the day.
Willie: Onyways, time for a wash! Race ye tae the baths!
The two friends run through the changing rooms and jump into the bath still in their strips. There is much shouting, commotion and barracking from the other players.
The scene fades to black
Scene 4 – The Conversation – Hearth and Heart
Mr Angus- Willie’s father
Margaret – Willie’s sister
Frederick- Fred – Willie’s six year old nephew
Interior of small working class house- kitchen range.
Medium Shot: Willie’s sister is sitting at the kitchen table. She is wearing spectacles and reading a casualty list from the local newspaper.
Close up of the local paper headline on casualties at the battle on Mons, August 23rd.
Cut to close up of Margaret’s face. She half stifles a sob and wipes a tear from her eye.
Fred looks up at his mother, he has a full size leather football under one arm. His eyes are wide and his mouth is open. She realises that he has seen her crying, and composes herself
Margaret- Away you oot and play Fred, ah think that’s yer grandad and uncle back.
Fred: But ah want tae see them mammy!
Margaret: Away oot the noo, ye’ll see them later!
There is banging and shouting – the voices of men entering the small house
Medium shot of Margaret- she pushes the handkerchief into her sleeve and hides the newspaper.
Willie and his father are in shirt sleeves and waistcoats. Willie’s sister is in a long dress covered with an apron. She turns at the stove and brings food and tea to the men.
She stands tersely behind but between the men at the table. Her eyes follow the conversation intently.
Mr Angus: So, yer away the morra son.
Willie: Aye dad, the Carluke Highland Light Infantry wid fa’ tae pieces if I wisnae there tae march oot wi’ them in the morn.
Mr Angus: Still the joker ah see. Ye’ll be needin that sense o’humour when ye get tae the front. Ah wish ah could join ye though, but I think ma fightin days are ower!
Margaret (Very audibly annoyed) Tut!
Mr Angus: (responding to his daughter’s irritation) There was a day when a wis a pretty useful sojer!
Margaret: Is it no enough that he’s away the morra without you comin’ oot wi yer nonsense.
Willie: Its fine Margaret, ma faither’s only trying tae make us aw feel a wee bit better here… Besides it’ll be a wee jaunt tae France. I’ll only have time tae drink a glass o’ wine, kiss a lassie and catch the train hame.
Mr Angus: There ye go hen! See it’ll be a dawdle for our lad!
Margaret clears plates away and puts tea cups and cake on the table. Mr Angus winks at Willie and slyly draws a half bottle of whisky from his hip pocket and tips a fair measure of spirit into each cup of tea.
Mr Angus (In a stage whisper): Don’t tell yer sister son. This’ll warm ye oan yer way.
Margaret’s tense expression changes and breaks into a small smile and rolls her eyes and crosses her arms across the front of her apron
The scene fades out and fades back into the kitchen setting.
The men have gone and Margaret is sitting alone at the kitchen table. The newspaper with the casualty lists is back in view on the table. Margaret pours tea into a fine bone china cup. Her hands begin to shake. She tries to drink the tea but her hand trembles and the cup clatters against a saucer.
Cut to a close up of the newspaper headline “1600 British Casualties as Line Held at Mons”
Margaret (barely audible, medium close up): Aw they boys. Their poor mithers… ma poor wee brother.
Willie’s sister slowly and deliberately crumples the newspaper and throws it on the fire.
Close up of newspaper burning- possible digital effect here?
Scene 5 – The Fitba Strip
Scene cuts to Willies bedroom
Willie’s nephew, Fred a young boy of about six, enters as Willie is packing some personal things into his kit bag.
Cut to image of Willie in photograph wearing football strip, then to Willie holding a football strip.
Fred: Is that yer Celtic Strip Uncle Willie?
Willie: Aye it is Fred. D’ye like it?
Fred: Aye Uncle Willie, it’s smashin’. Celtic are the best team next tae Wishaw Thistle! Are you gonnae be a sojer noo Uncle Willie?
Willie: That’s right wee man. I’ll be a sojer for a wee while anyway.
Fred: See if ye don’t come back fae the war can ah get yer strip then?
Willie (roaring with laughter): See you, ye wee toerag. Ye’ve got me deid and buried before ah get through the front door!
Fred realises what he has said and looks shocked.
Willie (playfully miming, he throws the strip over his shoulder and pretends he is holding a rifle) Right wee man ye better surrender right away. C’moan, get yer hauns in the air!
Fred catches onto the game and his hands shoot up like little rockets.
Willie: Don’t move an inch sojer or yer a deid man!
Fred freezes like a statue. Willie drops to his knees
Willie: Keep those hands in the air wee man! (Willie tenderly pulls the strip over the young boys arms and over his head. It reaches almost to the floor.) You can look efter this for me while ahm away right?
Slow fade to black
The Parade: The HLI Leave Carluke.
Exterior and Bright daylight
Long shot of street. There is red white and blue bunting on house. There is a band playing or pipes and drums. Maybe even both
A company of soldiers are assembling. The Carluke detachment of the Highland Light Infantry.
There is mild chaos- small children are running around. Proud parents and relatives have gathered. Any nervous misgivings have evaporated in the party mood.
Cut to interior of Willie’s house.
Mr Angus: Here son, let me take yer pack for ye. Ah’m no that auld that ah cannae be of some use to ye this morning.
Willie: That’d be fine faither. Ye’ve always been a great man for helpin’ me oot.
They step together and move as if to embrace each other, but step back awkwardly and shake hands. Both men laugh and smile. Jump cut to from Willie’s face to his father’s at this point. Both men are smiling. Both have eyes bright with tears that they refuse to acknowledge.
Mr Angus: Right! Ah’ll away wi this then, see ye in the road outside.
Mr Angus grabs the webbing of knapsack that is sitting on the kitchen table. He bangs the door open and almost stumbles through the opening.
Margaret enters the room. She walks towards Willie and embraces him. He stoops to return her embrace.
Willie: Well that’s me Margaret, ready for the off.
Margaret: Aye Wullie, so you be sure tae look after yourself. Ah’m wanting ma brither back, no a hero wi’ his story in the paper.
Willie: Margaret! Whit dae a keep tellin’ ye- maist likely this isnae gonnae become a big war. They’ll aw see sense and I’ll be back afore ye realise.
Margaret: Aye, ye might be right Wullie… Mibbe ye’ll be right.
She stand back from him with her hands on his hips. She fusses with the buttons on his uniform, pushing her lace handkerchief into his breast pocket.
She takes a step back
Anyway, Private Angus lets get ye out there. Attention!
Willie comes to attention smartly and delivers a crisp salute. Margaret steps in towards him and cups his cheek tenderly in her hand. Her fingers trail off his cheek and go under his chin. He had dipped his head towards her. She gently and firmly raises his chin straight and level again.
Ah want tae see my brother marching tall and proud doon that road. It isnae everybody in Carluke that is giving up a brother the day. Just remember, ah want ye back hame again…
Jump cut to the street scene
Willie goes out into the babble and noise of the parade. Soldiers emerge from the clusters of their family and friends. A sergeant shouts orders and the detachment forms up.
Cut to Mr McKenna, finely dressed. He is speaking to an elegant, well-dressed and refined woman who is accompanied by her equally dapper son. It is Mrs Martin and her son James Martin. They are watching the bustle of the parade from a discrete distance.
Mr McKenna: That is a fine body of young men our town sending off to war Mrs Martin.
Mrs Martin: Indeed they are Mr McKenna. I believe some of the young men are acquainted with you?
Mr McKenna: Aye madam. A good number of those boys have played in my teams. In point of fact I am losing my team captain to this wee enterprise.
Mrs Martin: Well, in this time of crisis for the empire we must all make some sacrifice.
Mr McKenna: True madam, very true…(he turns to speak to Mrs Martin’s son, James) and what of you sir? D’ye think ye may be joining them yourself.
James starts to mouth a response but only manages to stammer “I..I..I”
Mrs Martin: James will be presenting himself to the officer selection board in the very near future. (with stiff formality) Good day to you Mr McKenna.
Mr McKenna: (Not intimidated) And a good day to you Mrs Martin. It is good to know that all of our young men will be in this fight together.
Jump cut back to parade
The streets are lined with a cheering crowd.
The detachment are marching briskly down the street
Andra Souter is in the crowd he has his team jersey on under a blazer.
Andra: Are ye sure about this Willie? You’re leaving your team in the lurch here!
Willie: The King’s shilling is already spent. Huv tae go mate. Be seeing you at training again soon though!
Sergeant: Quiet in the ranks there, you’re a real sojer noo Angus.
Willie falls into step and his hand moves to his breast pocket. He sees his sister’s lace handkerchief and pushes it securely into his pocket. Close up of Willie marching and smiling.
Scene 6.1 On the Tram
Interior of Tram, daylight, in Coatbridge
Annie- A young woman who is also from Carluke. Attractive and lively. Very keen on Willie and worried about what is happening to him
Annie is sitting on the tram. There are seats around her. She sees Margaret who is laden with brown paper parcels and a shopping bag. Margaret is struggling a little and trying to keep an eye on Fred who is holding her hand and straining away from her.
Annie’s eyes wident and she smiles when she sees Margaret. She stands up and offers to help Margaret, taking the parcels from her. They sit down together and hustle Fred into the seat in front of them.
Margaret: Right you sit there nice and play wi yer sojers Fred.
Fred takes two painted lead soldiers from his pocket and marches them along the back of the seat in front of him.
Cut to head and shoulders of Margaret and Annie in the same frame.
Margaret: Phew! Whit a day this has been Annie. It’s nice tae see ye. Thanks for helping me out there.
Annie: Its nice to see you tae Margaret. Whit brings ye intae the toon?
Margaret: Ah’ve new things for wee Fred, some things for ma daddy. Been running aroon the streets aw day! How about you hen? Didnae expect tae see your wee face away fae Carluke.
Annie: Ahm up looking at the chance o’ workin in wan ae they factories. They’re takin’ oan a lot o’ wimmin, wi’ the war taking the men away.
Margaret: (smiling, affectionate) An there’s me thinking you’re a wee homebody!
Annie: Well, we’ll see. Ah might need to dae ma bit as well. How’s that brother o’yours, Willie getting’ oan?
Margaret: Funny ye should ask. He’s fine, just got a letter in fact. He’d been oan coastal defence duty, which ah wis aw in favour of as it kept him well oot ae harms way but… (She pauses and turns away from Annie)
Well the letter told us he was being shipped out to France. None o’ the lads look like being back any time soon, never mind Christmas.
Annie: Aye, but Willie’s such a strong boy. He knows how tae look efter himself. He’ll be fine Margaret.
Margaret: Ah hope so Annie, but have ye seen the lists o’casualties in the papers? They get longer every week…(Her voice trails off, both sad and anxious)
Annie: (Gentle and encouraging) Ah know, but Willie’s so strong and quick, any German daft enough to tackle him’ll regret it!
Margaret: (brighter but still anxious)Aye, mibbe ye’ll be right.
Cut to Fred playing with the toy soldiers. He swivels quickly point the soldiers at the women and says
Fred: Bang! Bang! Yer both deid!
Cut to reaction shot on the faces of the two women then the bell rings on the tram and it begins to move off
Cut to external view of tram, from low angle the tram looks big and menacing. It moves off with as much grinding, clanging and banging as can be recorded. The scene fades down.
Scene 7 – In the trenches- The Raid goes wrong
Johnny Souter- private soldier, friend of Willie, somewhat cynical and anti-authoritarian
Lieutenant James Martin: Officer in command of Willie’s platoon. Idealistic and enthusiastic. Maybe a little gauche and awkward too.
Captain Callum Nairn- platoon commander. Solid and stoic but has the best interests of the men he commands at heart
Brigadier General Robert Menzies: Older, served in Sudan, tough and brave enough to be in the front line.
Cut straight to the front line
Night in the trenches
There is huge explosion and the cries of men in agony.
Willie is in the front-line trench. Close up of his face- he flinches slightly as the explosion and screams continue.
There is the staccato bark of machine guns and the more muffled crack of grenades.
Cut to long shot of a private soldier running and stumbling back to his trenches.
The soldier throws himself down just before the sandbagged parapet of the front line.
Machine gun bullets whine over his head
Cut to close up of Johnny Souter. He is coaching himself to try and make it back over to his trench
Johnny Souter: (whispered, desperate, enraged) For the love o’ God, this isnae the game o’ sojers ah signed up for! Three yerds, that’s aw it is- just three yerds. Get yer backside up and get intae that trench!
There is a voice from the Scottish trench line.
Willie: Ye’ll keep yer daft heid doon Private Souter if ye huv ony sense about ye.
Johnny: Corporal Angus!
Cut to close up of Johnny’s face as he hears this. A white smile streaks across his muddied face.
Willie: Right. Listen Johnny, if ye jump up the Huns will cut ye right back doon again. Keep yer belly on the deck and slither yer stupid self ower the lip o’ the trench.
Johnny: Aye Willie right!
He starts to move and the whine of machine gun bullets zip overhead.
Willie: Will ye haud yer damned horses ye daftie! Ah’ll gie ye a count of three. We’ll open up wi’ everything we’ve got at this end tae keep that Boche machine gunner busy … then ye can wriggle yer way hame.
Johnny: (readjusting his helmet and looking shocked- he is hyperventilating) Aye Willie, right, right, right… oan three it is.
Willie: Wan, Two, Three…(there is the crackle of rapid rifle fire)
Cut to view from inside trench- the squad of soldiers are viewed from a low angle coming from the rear quarter. They are firing and ramming home the bolts of rifles with blurring speed.
Cut to to POV from Scottish trench. Johnny slithers over the lip of the trench and lands as an inelegant bundle of khaki, sprawling limbs and dropped rifle.
Medium shot-Johnny is still hyperventilating as he draws his limbs together and squats at the bottom of the trench. His chest and shoulders heave. His breath is raw and rasping.
Willie squats down next to him and casually drapes his arm over Johnny’s shoulder.
Willie: Yer fine, yer fine Johnny. Yer awright pal. Take a breath. That’s it, good lad, take a breath. Yer fine.
Scene fades to black
The View of the Aftermath
Fade to white and fade up to view of no man’s land. The camera pans across barbed wire. There are corpses in the open. Random shots and machine gun bursts are heard.
Close up of dead soldier’s face- obviously dead
Close up of second dead soldier’s face- again, obviously dead
Cut to close up of Lieutenant Martin’s face. He is barely conscious. He could be a corpse. His lips part and he inhales a rough and rasping breath. He is alive, but only just.
Cut back to Scottish Trench-line
Captain Nairn: Right Corporal Angus, I am correct in stating that Mr. Martin did not make it back into your section of the line?
Willie: Yes sir. The only man from the raiding party who got back here was Private Souter.
Captain Nairn: Indeed. Let’s have the lad here to find out what he knows about the whereabouts of Mr Martin then.
Cut to Johnny Souter. Still squatting on the trench floor, calmer but nervously smoking a cigarette.
Willie: Private Souter! Mr Nairn wid like a word wi ye.
Johnny throws the cigarette away and reluctantly hauls himself to his feet.
Willie throw him a look and he stands more briskly to attention.
Willie: Tell Mr Nairn what ye saw Johnny.
Johnny: We were just making our way through the German wire Sir. Right quiet like. Mr Martin wis daein his usual- in amongst everythin. He wis helpin the lads wi’ the wire cutters. Then there’s this bloody explosion in front ae us. The grun seems tae lift right up Sir, an ahm blown backwards. There’s shoutin and screamin an the Huns are opening up wi machine guns an grenades. There’s an order tae retreat and and our sojers are running back…(Johnny’s voice is starting to tremble and to rise in pitch)
Captain Nairn cuts him off.
Captain Nairn: Thank you Souter, you are dismissed.
Johnny salutes briskly and turns away. Out of sight he slumps down the side of the trench and gropes in his pocket for another cigarette.
Captain Nairn and Willie. Medium Close up with Willie in the frame
Captain Nairn: Not a good night… not a good nightCorporal Angus but we have what we need. Make sure that Private Souter gets a wee rest, his information confirms our fears. Mr Martin did not come back from the raid last night. The Boche sappers had mined their front line- God only knows how much explosive they used- they probably heard the bloody bang back home. I don’t think we’ll be seeing him today, or any time soon…
Cut back to the close up of Lieutenant Martin’s face. Although deathly, he inhales a sudden rasping breath and his body jerks as if waking from a nightmare. He groans and gasps.
Willie: Sir! Wan ae our deid has moved. There! Up by the Hun line. Just under the lip o’ the crater. Mr Martin mibbe?
Captain Nairn: (takes a pair of binoculars from a case at his waist. Peering through a narrow sandbagged viewing slit in the trenches he whispers to himself) Oh, Dear God. What’s worse? Martin dead or Martin alive?
(Now audible to Willie) Well-spotted Angus. Look after your section and no heroics. I am returning to the command post. Send a runner if there are any developments.
Willie: Sir, are we tae leave Mr Martin oot there?
Captain Nairn: That is the case Angus. I will lose no more good men today if it can be avoided.
Willie: Aye Sir.
Scene fades to white
Scene 9 Have a drink of this Tommy!
Fade up to high angle shot of Lieutenant Martin. He is lying sprawled on the ground. His hand moves to an obvious wound in his thigh. Blood is pooling in the mud next to him
Cut to high angle medium close up of his face and chest. He brings his bloodstained hand to his face and groans. He drops his hand onto his chest. It lies limp, like the hand of a sleeping child.
Lieutenant Martin: (Delirious, feverish) Water! For the love of God! Give me some water!
Cut back to high angle shot of Lieutenant Martin’s body and the ground surrounding him.
Cut to shot of German front line. A trench periscope rotates and has quite clearly seen Lt Martin.
There is a shout from the German trenches- get translation
Water? You want Water? Have a drink of this Tommy. It will end your thirst. (laughter)
Two German stick grenades are lobbed from the German trench line. They lie smoking for a second then detonate.
Lieutenant Martin Screams.
Scene 10 “Ah Cannae Listen Tae This”
Willie whips away from the firing slit in the trenches and sits on his haunches. He puts his hand over his eyes very briefly and stands up.
Willie: Johnny, ah want ye tae be ma runner. Get tae the command post and let Captain Nairn know that Mr Martin is definitely alive and that the Huns are chucking stick grenades at him. Ask if ah huv permission to get oot there and bring him back?
Johnny: Whit? Have ye loast company wi’ yer senses Corporal Angus. Ah mean, ah liked Mr Martin n’ that, but whit’s he tae you? He’s a toff who thought that this wis just a big game… aw just a bit ae a laugh. An ah’ll tell ye something else- he widnae be runnin tae save your life if you were oot there.
Willie: (Quietly, resigned) Ye know Johnny, ah cannae disagree wi ye. But ah cannae sit here an listen tae that. Ah’ll tell you something as well. Ye remind me o’ ma pal Andra back hame. He’s the rebel type. Mouthy- like you. So, aye, Martin is a toff, but he’s frae Carluke. How dae ah walk through the toon efter this? Whit dae ah say when his mither or faither asks, “Did you see him die? Did you try to help him” an’ ah answer. “Oh aye, ah saw yer son but ah let the Huns use him for target practice until he was bled dry”.
Johnny: So yer gonnae throw yer life doon the pan just tae look good in front the toffs up the road? Whit’s the point? Whit is he tae you?
Willie: (wearily) Wid ye just dae whit a asked ye and take the message tae Captain Nairn.
Johnny: (Reluctant and with an edge in his voice) Aye right then… Corporal.
Willie: Johnny, haud yer wheesht for a minute and sit doon. Ah’m away maself.
Scene 11 Generals and Corporals.
Cut to the interior of a command post dugout.
Captain Nairn: (He jumps from a camp stool as the General stoops and enters the dugout) General Menzies Sir! A pleasure to see you.
General Menzies: Thank you Captain Nairn. Your report about the beastly business with the mine and the raiding party made me want to take a look at things for meself. I understand that we lost young James Martin in the raid too.
Captain Nairn: Well, not quite Sir. Reliable reports have placed Martin in no-mans land. The lad is seriously wounded and pinned down by Boche crossfire. They are taunting us by lobbing the odd grenade near him.
General Menzies: Poor chap. Nothing we can do for him?
Captain Nairn: I have denied permission for any rescue attempt sir. The Hun have the area covered with machine guns and he is only yards from their front line…( He is struggling to retain the composure of a professional soldier) They are watching him through their trench periscopes and can’t take their eyes off the poor lad.
If it were feasible I would lead a party myself Sir, but the casualties from last night have decimated us. If we lose more men we would not be an effective fighting unit. Besides Sir, it would not be right to ask…
There is a voice outside the dugout.
Willie: Corporal Angus requesting permission to speak to Captain Nairn Sir.
Captain Nairn: Enter.
Willie enters comes to attention and salutes. He does a double-take when he sees the General sitting in the dugout.
Captain Nairn: At ease Corporal Angus. I suspect you may be picking up the thread of our earlier conversation. You will have seen General Menzies before I take it?
Willie: Aye Sir. Ah would like yer permission to bring back Mr Martin.
Captain Nairn: I am reluctant to allow this Angus. We have lost too many good men in the last day.
Willie: With the greatest respect sir, ah’m no leavin a fellow Carluke man out there. Ah’d be bringing a good man back.
General Menzies: You are aware my boy that you are going to certain death.
Willie: Sir, we’re aw deid in the long run, ah’m no fussed about the time, might as well get it done the day. There’s ayeways a chance.
General Menzies: So be it Corporal. Captain Nairn, arrange to do what you can in the way of covering fire. You are a brave man- this could be a sore loss to us… (he pauses and slips a hand inside his uniform jacket, taking out a metal flask). Anyway, take this my boy, Best Brandy I could lay my hands on. Have a snifter yourself and make sure Lieutenant Martin gets a good drink too…
All the best my boy.
Scene 12 – Going Over the Top
Cut to Captain Nairn, Willie and Johnny in front line trench.
Captain Nairn: Souter, do you have the rope. (Johnny nods and hands a coiled rope to Willie who drapes it diagonally across his chest)
We could organise some covering fire Corporal Angus, make the Boche keep his head down, eh?
Willie: Aye sir, if ye could direct the fire onto them ah could slip aboot fifty yerds doon the trench-line and make ma way in fae the flank. Might get tae Mr Martin unseen
Captain Nairn: A risky tactic Angus, but I see your point. We’ll get them to keep their heads down and give you at least half a chance of getting back.
Captain Nairn looks Willie squarely in the eye and shakes his hand firmly.
Right Corporal, I am off to organise the men, get them ready to lay down that covering fire.
Nairn walks off shouting orders
Sergeant, get your men in position.
He takes a position on the firing step and takes out a pair of binoculars which he rest on a sandbagged viewing slit before settling himself to watch the events unfold.
Cut to medium close up of Johnny and Willie.
Johnny: (Whispered, shocked but somewhat contemptuous of Willie’s behaviour) So this is it, eh Willie? Yer gonnae throw yer life away for King and Country?
Willie: (soothing, calm, resigned, slight sighing) King and country disnae come intae it much. There’s a boy fae Carluke oot there and that’s ma country the day. (firmer of voice) Ah told ye before, ahm no leavin’ him.
Johnny: So that’s it then?
Willie: Aye that’s it. Ah’ll see ye later.
Johnny: Aye right, so ye will.(bitter and sad in tone) Aw the best Willie, ye’ll need it.
Willie: Right wee ray o’sunshine you are! He smiles an playfully punches Johnny on the arm. Johnny relents and smiles back. Willie takes off his steel helmet and hands it to Johnny. Carefully and quietly he starts to climb out of the trench.
Scene 13 The Rescue
Intense volleys of rifle and machine gun fire are heard.
We see muzzle flashes and smoke from the Scottish trench line.
The soldiers, commanded by Nairn in the Scottish trench are delivering rapid fire towards the German line
Cut to view of Willie crawling and dodging between shell holes and dead ground. He moves quickly but quietly, taking cover and checking carefully before making each rapid sprint. The line of rope trails behind him.
The sound of rifle fire crackles in the background but this fades from Willie’s consciousness, the only sound we hear is his breathing and footfall on the ground
When Willie takes cover he lies on his back and his chest heaves.
He makes a final dash from cover and reaches the inert figure of Lt Martin and throws himself down beside him.
Lieutenant Martin jerks awake and half rises, groaning.
Willie: (gently, whispering) Shhh, hush yerself Mr Martin, the Boche will hear ye. Hush, shhh, ye’ll be fine, ah’ll get ye back hame.
Lieutenant Martin:(in a cracked whisper) Corporal Angus, what a sight you are to see. So glad, so very glad… Do you have water? I need water…
Willie: Ah’ve nae water Sir, but ye could try this.
Willie takes the silver flask from inside his uniform jacket. He swiftly swigs a measure himself and then passes it to Lt Martin who has propped himself up on one elbow now. Martin takes a deep draught from the flask and immediately breaks into a harsh coughing fit. He drops the flask and it clatters against barbed wire, a shell case, a discarded bayonet or gun- anything metallic.
Cut to view of German front line. The trench periscope rotates to observe Willie and Lt Martin.
Willie rolls onto his belly and realises that they have been spotted. He gets to his knees and hauls at Lt. Martin’s shoulders
Willie: Right sir, time tae go ah think! We’ll need tae get ye runnin’
Possible use of slow motion effect here
Willie helps Lt Martin to his feet and steadies him as he wobbles
Willie takes the loop of rope from across his chest and drapes it around Lt Martin. He points to the British line and mouths the word RUN as the first of the German grenades explodes close by.
They both begin to run, and Lt Martin immediately stumbles down on his knees. Willie stoops to help him up and rotates Lt Martin’s body back in the direction of the Scottish line.
They both begin running again.
A grenade blast knocks Willie to the ground. He get up and runs, dragging his leg now
A second grenade blast explodes in front of him. Willie drop to his knees now.
Blood is streaming over the left side of his face
Lt Martin looks back and makes to turn around. Willie points to the Scottish trench line and screams,
Willie: Keep going Mr Martin!
Willie wipes his face and stumbles on through another grenade blast behind him.
Willie falls down again. He looks up and sees Lt Martin fall into the Scottish trench line.
Cut to Willie’s face
He pushes himself up and speaks to himself
Willie: Just wan last push!
He runs, stumbling over the broken ground
Willie: Just wan last push!
Willie falls before the sandbags of the Scottish Line and pulls himself half over the parapet.
Johnny Souter pulls Willie down into the trench
Johnny: Willie! Willie! Can ye hear me?
Willie is lying on his back we see him from Johnny’s POV
Willie: (slurring his words, dreamy and sleepy due to blood loss) Aye Johnny, aye ah can hear ye. Yer a pure wee ray o’ sunshine, that’s what ye are!
Willie’s eyes close and he loses consciousness.
Johnny: Stretcher bearers! Stretcher Bearers!
Willie is lifted onto the stretcher and evacuated. The screen fades to black
Scene 14- The Queen’s Pyjama’s
Matron McKenna Chief nurse formidable and stern but infused with matriarchal tenderness
Nurse Rose Blake- young, passionate and caring. At odds with Matron McKenna. Efficient but very tender.
Major Doctor Henry Blunt – as name, so nature. He is very direct
Lieutenant James Martin
Willie is in hospital bed. He begins to stir and take in his surroundings
Matron McKenna hears him and walks from her desk, calling on Major Blunt, the doctor in charge.
Matron McKenna: Major Blunt! Major Blake! Corporal Angus is regaining consciousness.
Major Blunt bustles in. He is powerful and somewhat pompous but this is balanced by a direct, earthy sense of humour that the matron pretends to disapprove of. Willie follows their comments with his eyes, like a spectator at a tennis match and looks generally befuddled by what they are saying.
They station themselves on either side of Willie’s bed
Major Blunt: Ah! At last! I thought we might lose our hero! If he hadn’t come round it would have been a considerable waste of bandages and bedpans. Still, all’s well that end well, eh Matron?
Willie: (sleepy and slow) Where am…
Major Blunt: “Where am I?” Corporal. They all ask that don’t they Matron. Would you like to tell our hero where we are?
Matron McKenna: Corporal Angus, you are in our Casualty Clearing station, and have been unconscious for quite a while. You have been very brave and very strong, I am delighted to see you start to recover.
Major Blunt: Delighted indeed Angus. The bloody Boche shot you to bits you know. I think they got you everywhere except your bollocks. You’re fully functional in the family department,
Major Blunt whacks the bed cover in the general direction of Willie’s midsection with a swagger stick.
Willie winces and looks under the covers then looks visibly more relaxed
Major Blunt: But as for elsewhere, oh dear.
Matron McKenna: What the major is trying to tell you young man is that you have over forty separate wounds and thirteen of them are serious.
Major Blunt: Yes Corporal you had more German steel in you than I’ve ever seen. Spent an absolute age picking it out of you on the operating table. Never thought you would make it. Fully expected you to be Corporal Willie Angus VC, posthumous.
Matron McKenna: Must you be so morbid and so flippant Major.
Major Blunt: Yes I must matron. A little dark humour lightens the day for everyone.
Matron McKenna: Oh, it’s humour is it?
Major Blunt: (somewhat stung and huffy) Well, one does one’s best.
Willie: (still bewildered) VC? Posthumous?
Matron McKenna: We didn’t think you would live Corporal Angus. We didn’t think you’d live long enough to be presented with the Victoria Cross.
Willie is more alert now and understands what has happened to him and where he is. He looks between them again with more of a sense of understanding on his face
Now, Major Blunt, I think you have rounds to complete.
Major Blunt: “For Valour” young man. Highest award for bravery one can be given. We’re all actually quite proud of you…(his voice trails off, there is a sense of genuine emotion in his reaction)
Matron McKenna: Your rounds Major Blunt? I’ll have nurse Blake take a look at some of these dressings and make him more comfortable.
Cut to interior of Buckingham Palace
King George: Have you seen the latest batch of medal citations my dear?
Queen Mary: I trust you are referring to the latest citation for the Victoria Cross.
King George: Indeed my dear, indeed. This young corporal, the Scotsman, what was his name again…
Queen Mary: William Angus darling.
King George: Brought his wounded officer back through no man’s land and got himself shot to pieces in the process. Remarkable young man.
Queen Mary: Indeed darling, it will be a delight to see him at the palace of course but a little comfort in the meantime may be appropriate. Even if it is only a small token.
King George: Beg pardon dear?
Queen Mary: Oh, I’ve arranged to send him a small gift
Queen Mary: (Quietly, really to herself but just about audible) The poor boy, forty wounds in his flesh. So much pain for him and an equal agony for his family I imagine.
King George: Beg pardon dear?
Queen Mary: Oh, nothing really dear, just me musing aloud.
Cut to Nurse Rose Blake treating Willie.
Rose: Good morning Willie. Did you sleep any better last night?
Willie: Managed a wee bit o’ sleep hen. Thanks for askin’. Are ye here tae set aboot they bandages again?
Rose: it has to be done Willie. If we keep the dressings clean we can stop infection. No point in you going through all you did to throw it away because we didn’t change a bandage.
Willie: It’s no that it’s that sore, ah just don’t like looking at it.
Rose: I know Willie, I know, but we can make you better. You must try to keep your spirits up. You were so brave on the frontline, use some of that strength now- for yourself! Try to put those terrible sights behind you.
Willie: Aye, what a sight it was that day. The frontline is something between a pit-bing and a slaughterhouse. Ah see the faces o’ some of the lads ye know. I see their faces when I’m dreaming…
His voice trails away and he becomes still. Rose holds his hand.
Rose: You need to look to yourself Willie, it’s hard to say it, and I mean no disrespect but you need to leave the dead behind. Hold onto your life! (Her voice changes, becomes jovial and bright as she tries to change the subject)
Anyway, what’s a pit bing?
Willie: (animated, but still on edge) Well seeing your no a lassie from Lanarkshire! Its where aw the slag and waste fae the coal mines and steel plants get dumped. Great heaps o’rubble, some of it still smokin’ away. No very nice and no much different fae the earth in no-man’s land.
Rose: (somewhat surprised by the edge in Willie’s voice) Oh! I see. I’d wondered what those heaps were when I saw them from the train.
Willie: (lightening his voice and opening up to Rose more) Aye, it’s a differerent world hen, and no always pretty… wouldnae mind getting back hame to it though.
He turns away and Rose tenderly changes dressing on his left arm. Blood has weeped through and the wounds are still raw.
She winces a little herself when she sees the extent of his wounds but composes herself and works with care – she is professional but also tender and humane.
Major Blunt enters. He stands at the end of Willie’s bed and fiddles with a chart. Looking uncomfortable
Major Blunt: Well Angus, I have some bad news for you I’m afraid. We had another look at your injured eye when we changed the dressings last night. Unfortunately we won’t be able to save it. It’s unlikely that you will regain sight in it.
Willie: (stoic and unmoved. He hardens his face and nods) Right Sir, thank you for trying onyways. Ah’ll just need to make do wi the wan.
Major Blunt: That’s the spirit Angus!
He quickly puts the chart on the end of the bed and leaves hurriedly.
Willie sighs and Rose takes his hand. Willie covers his eyes with his other hand and turns slightly away from her.
Rose: Willie, don’t give up. You’ve done so well. Look there are some letters and parcels from home. Why don’t you have a look at them.
Willie: (slightly embarrassed) Ah wis wonderin’ Rose if ye could dae me a wee favour. Ah saw the letters and parcels there, but wi’ the bandage oan ma eye and wi’ me feelin’ a bit tired…
Rose: Would you like me to read them for you Willie? I’d be delighted to help out.
Willie: Aye, if ye wouldnae mind hen.
Rose: (opening an envelope and smoothing out a letter) This is from, lets see- Margaret.
Willie: That’s ma big sister. Go oan, whit’s she sayin’
This dialogue begins with Rose speaking. Her voice fades down and is replaced by Margaret’s voice. Split screen or fade to image of Margaret sitting at the kitchen table in her father’s house writing the letter.
Rose: My Dear Brother, I hope this letter finds you as well as can be expected. We thought the worst when the telegram came. Your father wouldn’t open it and it sat next to the big clock on the mantelpiece until I came round with Fred to help with the dinner. When we opened it and saw that you were wounded it was a relief to know you were alive. There were more and more telegraphs and officers from the army and men from the press. They were so proud of you being a VC. Everybody in Carluke stops us and asks how you are and tells us that what you did made the whole place proud.
The whole family are glad you saved the Martin boy and we all just want you home safe and well. Wee Fred says that he is still looking after your football strips but thinks that being a soldier is better than being a footballer now. I told him to ask you what you thought about that when you got home.
Your big sister, Margaret
Willie: (smiling with delight) Aye, she’s some lassie is ma big sister! That wee lad Fred is a wee cracker as well- ah’ll need tae pit him aff this idea o’ being a sojer mind you!
Rose: There’s another letter and a parcel Willie. Would you like me to read it?
Willie nods and smiles
Rose: Oh my goodness! This looks official. Lovely paper and an embossed crest on the envelope.
She opens the letter carefully and draws out a thick sheet of paper. Her eyes scan the page and her mouth opens in astonishment. Her hand slowly moves up to cover her mouth and she slowly lowers the letter.
Rose: Gracious! Willie, this is a personal note from the Queen!
Willie: Whit? Yer kiddin’ me oan Rose!
Rose:(more composed and sitting up straight) I’ll read it out to you. “My Dear Corporal Angus, My husband and I have been reading about the heroic steps you took to save the life of a fellow soldier. Your brave deed filled us both with admiration. The sacrifice you made and the suffering you continue to endure fill us both with a sense of pride and humbles us when we think of the great pain our soldiers suffer in this war. You will of course be attending Buckingham Palace to receive your Victoria Cross, but in the meantime please accept this small gift which may go some way to making your recovery more comfortable.
A personal note from the Queen Willie! What an honour.
Willie: Aye yer right there hen. Go an’ open that parcel then.
Rose tears open the brown paper parcel. The brown paper reveals sumptuous purple and gold tissue paper. She delicately unfolds this and lifts up a blue and white striped pyjama jacket.
Willie (bellowing with laughter): There ye go, I’m gonnae get tae wear the Queen’s Pyjama’s.
The matron and Major Blunt appear. They are helping a young officer who is limping badly- it is Lieutenant Martin
Major Blunt: Visitor for you Angus, the young chap you went to so much trouble for.
Lieutenant Martin frees himself from the matron’s arm and steps forward.
They are both so overcome with emotion that neither can speak.
Close ups on their faces reveal that their eyes are bright with tears.
Cut to Close of Lieutenant Martin’s face.
He is smiling and shaking slightly.
He mouths the word “thankyou” but no sound emerges.
Cut to Close up of Willie. He smiles and nods his head.
The scene fades out.
Scene 15 – At the Palace.
Equerry- a young officer
Mr Angus- Willie’s father
Buckingham Palace – interior of drawing room. The king is pacing about and Queen Mary sits at a desk.
King George: Medal presentations this morning darling…
(He peers through a window)
Large crowd today dear. This young Scotsman, Corporal Angus has certainly caught the public attention.
Queen Mary: Indeed he has. Your equerry informed me that the young man’s father is in the crowd outside the gates.
King George: What? How preposterous! He must be found immediately and brought in for the presentation.
Queen Mary: I have already sent the equerry to locate Corporal Angus’s father my dear.
King George: What? Oh! I can always rely on you my dear.
Queen Mary: Yes George, you can.
Cut to corridor in the palace
Willie is sitting alone, waiting. He leans forward and clasps his hands together around a walking stick between his knees. He then looks around to take in his grand surroundings. He is feeling somewhat lonely. A door opens and a uniformed officer walks along accompanying Mr Angus senior.
The officer gestures, pointing Mr Angus gently towards Willie.
Willie stands up and his worried face splits into a broad smile
This is matched by the expression on Mr Angus’s face.
They take a step towards each other and vigorously shake hands. They take a step closer and embrace clasping each other around the shoulder as they continue to shake hands. Willie is holding the stick awkwardly behind his father’s back as they embrace.
Mr Angus: It’s good tae see ye son. Ah thought that ye’d win a big medal wan ae these days but ah thought it wid be for the fitba! Now look at ye!
Willie: Aye faither, its some place here right enough..
His words trail off, he does not know what to say
Equerry: Mr Angus, the presentation begins shortly. May I accompany you to your seat in the hall?
Willie and Mr Angus disentangle themselves from the embrace.
The equerry immediately begins to usher Mr Angus away. He half turns around to deliver his next lines over his shoulder as he is led away reluctantly.
Mr Angus: Aye sir, lead on. Ah’ll see ye in there Willie. Ah’m right proud o’ ye son.
Cut to the grand presentation room.
The King and Queen stand together. The equerry is standing to the side of them with the Victoria Cross on a velvet cushion in one hand and the medal citation card in the other
Equerry: For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty at Givenchy on the 12 June 1915, in voluntarily leaving his trench, under very heavy bomb fire, and rescuing a wounded officer who was lying within a few yard’s of the enemy’s position.
Lance Corporal Angus had no chance whatever of escaping the enemy’s fire when undertaking this very gallant action and in affecting the rescue he sustained about 40 wounds from bombs, some of them being very serious.
The equerry steps towards the King and bows. The King lifts the VC from the cushion and steps towards Willie who is standing to attention across from them.
The King: Lance Corporal Angus. For your act of valour, I present you with the Victoria Cross.
The King pins the medal to Willie’s chest. He then steps back half a pace and shakes Willie’s hand.
The King: Well done my boy what a service for your country you undertook on that day. Forty wounds I hear? The pain must have been intolerable.
Willie: Aye Sir, but only thirteen o’ them were serious.
The King laughs loudly and Willie smiles.
The King sees Mr Angus standing behind Willie.
The King: Mr Angus your son is a brave man sir, a truly brave man. We are glad to note that his sense of humour is clearly intact.
There is polite applause and an ripple of decorous laughter in the room
Cut to a shot of Willie from behind, he is alone and limps slowly down a grand hallway.
The scene fades
Scene 16- Homecoming
Getting off the train.
Lord Newlands- Generals Uniform, Commanding Officer of Lanarkshire Territorial Divisions
Willie steps down from the train. He is still using a walking stick. He is flanked by a Lord Newlands and Lieutenant Martin.
The crowd are rapturous. There is much cheering and confetti and streamers are thrown. Union Jacks and Saltire flags are being waved
A piper is playing.
The crowd are ecstatic
Newlands and Martin stand on either side of Willie
Each of them shake his hands.
Willie waves to the crowd
The crowd press in and the soldiers make room for Willie and the officers who go inside a waiting room next to the platform.
Lord Newlands: Well Angus, quite a reception eh? The whole country is delighted to have you back. (He looks at Lieutenant Martin) To have you both back.
Journalist: May we have a few words sir and a photograph sir?
Lord Newlands: Of course miss! Wonderful to see you young ladies helping the war effort.
The three men stand together and are photographed.
Journalist: Have you anything to say to Corporal Angus Mr Martin?
Lieutenant Martin: In my view It was an act of bravery second to none in the annals of the British Army.
He turns to Willie and shakes his hand and speaks more softly
I owe you my life Willie, I will never forget that day.
Willie: Anything for a boy fae Carluke sir!
A door opens and Willie’s father, his sister and his nephew Fred enter.
Lord Newlands: Lieutenant Martin, let us adjourn to my motorcar. I fell that Willie has some family business to attend to.
The two men bow slightly in the direction of Willie’s family members and leave the room.
The family cross to Willie. There are handshakes and hugs.
Mr Angus: Ach, son yer lookin’ better every time ah see ye. Looks like yer keepin’s some fine company tae!
He nods towards the retreating officers and winks at Willie
Willie: Aye faither, Kings and Lordship and aw sorts, but ah’ll never lose the common touch.
Margaret: You’re right there wee brother. We’ll make sure of that!
Willie turns to embrace Margaret. She pulls back slightly and her hands slide down his arms. She looks him up and down and her eyes are drawn to the stick he is using. She then lifts her left and gently caresses his temple and cheek next to the eyepatch over his left eye. Margaret is full of emotion but will not break down and cry. She has a bright but brittle tone in her voice
Margaret: There was me believing you when you told me that you would only have time to kiss a French lassie and have a wee glass of wine before ye were hame. (She has a brittle smile and a catch in her voice as she says this) What a mess they’ve made of my wee brother. Still, yer back and very nearly in one piece as well!
Willie: (Laughing, but slightly bitter. His smile has a sardonic twist) Aye! Very nearly indeed Margaret.
Here, ah thought ah wid see big Andra the day. Is he oot there?
Margaret: He joined up Willie, said he couldnae let you be oot there on yer ain. (Margaret pauses and steps towards Willie) There wis a telegram sent tae his house last night. He isnae coming hame.
Willie and Margaret embrace again. We see Willie shake his head.
Margaret and Willie step apart and we see little Fred. Looking down on him from a high angle POV he looks even smaller than her actually is. When he knows his uncle is looking at him he salutes.
Fred: Uncle Willie can ah get tae see yer medal?
Willie: (Forcing himseld to be cheerful) Aye wee man, once were hame.
The scene cuts to Willie’s bedroom at home.
Fred is sitting on the edge of Willie’s bed
Fred: Ah’m gonnae be sojer just like you Uncle Willie.
Willie has removed his uniform jacket and glengarry and is standing in his shirt sleeves.
Willie: Well Fred being a sojer is good but d’ye know what’s better?
Fred: Being a captain or a general or a king mibbe?
Willie: Naw, nane ae them wee man.
Fred: Ah don’t know then Uncle Willie.
Willie: Did ah ask ye tae look efter something for me?
Fred: Aye Uncle Wilie, yer fitba jerseys. Ma mammy made me put them in that drawer there. (He points to a chest of drawers)
Willie: Right ye are, you go and get it for me then.
Fred scurries quickly over to the chest of drawers and rummages through the contents, eventually finding the jersey. Willie stands up and opens a cupboard door, removing a football.
Willie sits on the edge of the bed, his elbow rests on the football and he is holding a velvet case that contains the medal. Willie glances at Fred, indicating that he should sit next to him. Fred heaves himself onto the high bed with a little help from Willie.
Willie opens the medal case and shows it to Fred
Willie: There ye are Fred, a wee look at a Victoria Cross for ye.
Fred: It’s no very shiny. Ah thought it wid be gold
Willie: (Slightly darker tone in his voice) Well, there ye go Fred, that’s yer medals for ye. (Brighter, more cheerful) Have ye worked oot whit’s better than a sojer yet?
Fred: (sounding slightly worried or confused) Naw Uncle Willie, ah don’t know.
Willie: It easy, playin’ fitba is better than bein a sojer.
Willie takes off the uniform cap that Fred is wearing and gives him the ball.
Willie: Right away you oot and play wi’ that wee man.
Fred takes the ball and bursts out of the room, heading outside to play.
Shouts of children playing are heard. Willie smiles and shakes his head. He picks up the football jersey that has been left on the bed. Very slowly, very painfully he gets up from the edge of the bed and walks stiffly to the drawer that Fred has left open. Clearly in pain, which he has been concealing until now, he slowly bends over and places the strip gently in the drawer. He then casually, dismissively drops the medal case into the drawer and pushes it shut with his foot. He leans on the edge of the chest of drawers and we see him from behind. The photograph of him in his football strip is staring back at him. Slowly, he reaches across to it and places it face down on the top of the chest of drawers.
Montage of football shots from film and period to accompany the voice over.
Alternatively, cut back to the shot of Willie with his grandson Peter to accompany the voice over.
Margaret: Voice over.
So, my brother made it back and we were proud of him.
Plenty other lads didnae come hame though.
Tens o’ thousands ae them, left lying in the cauld, cauld earth o’ France and Flanders and wherever else they shipped those boys tae fight and die.
Willie lost so much that day. Half his foot shot away, blinded in one eye. No much mair ftiba for him.
He did get to appear before huge crowds though.
The army paraded him in front o’ the fans at Ibrox and Parkhead- they thought it would be good for recruiting.
He hated those days.
But he did make a friend.
Lieutenant Martin, the Carluke lad he saved never forget what Willie had done. Every year, on Willie’s birthday a telegram of thanks arrived. Willie appreciated that wee thing. The VC stayed in the drawer.