The Death Of Dobbin

a writing by Kenneth Malvyn Clark

You may think the name Dobbin
refers to a horse, but in fact Dobbin
was my brother, his name was Robin
Andrew Simms, he was older than me
by eleven years, when I was a kid he
would gallop me around the garden
on his back as I played at cowboys
and Indians, be my charger as the
Black Night fell to the trusty sword
of Sir William of Barton, hence the
affectionate endearment of Dobbin.
Dobbin joined the Army at eighteen,
served in the Falklands war, Kosovo,
then three tours in Afghanistan and
Iraq, Dobbin was a decorated soldier
who served his country with honour
and distinction. Dobbin hung himself
four years ago, couldn’t wash from his
mind the sheer brutality of war, come
to terms with the sight of friends and
comrades killed and maimed, Dobbin
was my hero, a hero who couldn’t quite
adjust to the normality of civilian life,
didn’t quite tick the box anymore in a
society ignorant of the traumas and
mental scars soldiers face after combat.
Like others of his ilk his life regressed
into a broken marriage, alcohol drugs,
trouble with the law, sleeping rough
begging for handouts. Dobbin had a
tattoo on his right shoulder in Latin,
‘Edam Jam Non Deficere’ translated
the phrase means, ‘I shall not falter’.
Why those particular words he never
said, perhaps he was afraid he would
fail. Like many I’ve never been tested
by conflict or adversity, I don’t know
how I would react or cope in a similar
situation, I failed my brother, I wasn’t
there to pick him up when he stumbled,
carry him on my back in his moment of
need, I was the one that faltered, not
Dobbin, we, as a society also faltered,
thankfully prosthetics help to rebuild
wounded soldiers lives, but there are
no sticking plasters, for wounded minds.

( Although the above is fictional it was written to highlight the plight of many of our ex-servicemen mentally damaged by recent conflict who are now homeless or have tragically taken their own lives, Dobbin, could be someone you know.)

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