Mon Feb 6th 2012
The overall winner was Michelle Giljam,
from Edmund Campion School with an entry titled 'Boots'
Photographs are shown with the Deputy Mayor.
Lucy Badham Photography
Winning Entry "Boots" Writing Competition 2012
The Secret History of a pair of World War 1 soldier’s boots
By Michelle Giljam
I started off my life in 1914 in a dark, gloomy factory in north London. My beautiful, black leather glistened in the light and spotless laces were neatly threaded through the punched holes along my front. I was waiting there for what felt like an eternity.
Eventually I was handed over to someone – I didn’t know it was going to be a soldier. I only realised it when he was given the fighting equipment. Then, I got worried! The soldier put me on his feet – they were warm and were perspiring. Before I knew it we were shipped off to war. Once at our destination, he marched over the vast fields, it took ages to get to the trenches; I was wet, muddy and aching.
At this point I found out the soldier’s name – Peter. (He had written his name along my inside lining.) As soon as we arrived at the trenches, Peter climbed down into the horribly stinky and incredibly muddy place that was going to be home for a long time. Everybody looked scared and worried, I felt it too even though I was not going to be fighting – I was protecting Peter’s feet and keeping them warm and dry.
Out in the field it was devastating to observe all the dead bodies – I was desperately hoping it would not happen to Peter. Peter was not on the front line yet and I prayed he never would be.
After many months Peter recognised a familiar face in the German trenches. It was Hans, his childhood friend who had moved to Germany at the age of 10. Coincidentally, this was Christmas Eve and a ceasefire had been announced. This allowed the soldiers to stop fighting and enjoy that one day as friends. They sang carols and boy were my soles aching from all the dancing – but it felt good! Peter and Hans had a wonderful day but they both understood that tomorrow they would have to be enemies again. What they agreed was to swap their left boots and if they survived the war Peter and Hans would meet up to swop them back.
All of a sudden half of me was gone and because I do not speak German I cannot tell you what happened to my left boot after that! The next four years were really tough and often heartbreaking but Peter and I stuck together.
14 years later…I was taken down from the shelf, dusted and polished until I was glistening as new. It was only when I was brought to Heathrow airport that I realised I would be meeting my other half – Lefty.
Peter and Hans were overjoyed to see each other once again but nothing could compare to how Lefty and I felt! It is unexplainable what it is like to have your other half back!
Peter and Hans kept in touch for the rest of their days. My other half and I just go on forever as two good old soles.
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