from any soldier to his son
What did I do, sonny, in the Great World war?
Well I learned to peel potatoes and to scrub the barrack floor
So I learned to live and lump it in the lovely land of war
Where all the face of nature seems a monstrous septic sore
Where the bowels of earth hung open, like the guts of something slain
And the rot and wreck of everything are churned and churned again
Where all is done in darkness and where all is still in day
Where living men are buried and the dead unburied lay
Where men inhabit holes like rats, and only rats live there
Where cottage stood and castle once, in days before La Guerre
Where endless lines of soldiers thread the everlasting way
By endless miles of duckboards , through endless walls of clay
Where life is one hard labour, and a soldier gets his rest
When they leave him in the daises with a puncture in his chest.
Where still the lark in summer pours her warble from the skies
And underneath , unheeding lie the blank, upstaring eyes
And I read the Blighty papers, where the warriors of the pen
Tell of 'Christmas in the trenches' and the 'Spirit of our men"
And I saved the choicest morsels and I read them to my chum
And he muttered, as he cracked a louse and wiped it off his thumb
'May a thousand chats from Belgium crawl their fingers as they wrote
May they dream they're not exempted till they faint with mortal fright
May the lies they've written choke them like a gas cloud till they're dead
May the horror and the torture and the things they never tell
(for they only write to order) be reserved for them in hell
You'd like to be a soldier and go to France some day?
By all the dead in Delville wood, by all the nights I lay
Between our line and Fritz's before they brought me in
By the old wood and leather stump that once was flesh and skin
By all the lads that crossed with me but never crossed again
By all the prayers their mothers and their sweethearts prayed in vain
Before the things that were that day should ever more befall
May God in common pity destroy us one and all
Published in "The Nation", 22 November 1918
chats; army slang for lice
Last edited by John Sukey; 04-30-2010 at 12:21.
Thank you for posting this, My Grandfather and two great uncles were in the AEF.
Thanks, I have a pic of Gramps from the war to end all wars.
Very "Kipling-esque" and very good John.
Until it was repossesed by a relative, I used to have a photo of my Grandfather and Granduncle standing together with their greatcoats and pickelhaubes. Taken in Berlin just before deployment.
Thanks for posting, John.
Dads old messkit from WW1.
I, too, have a picture of my grandfather in his "doughboy" uniform and "Smokey Bear" hat.
Originally Posted by avery53
Funny thing, one of my grandfathers was a draft dodger. He was working on a farm in Germany and the farmer gave him two choices.
1. Marry his daughter, or
2. The farmer would report him and get him drafted into the Kaiser's army!
He picked none of the above, walked to Hamburg, and got on a boat to the U.S.
(this was around 1900)