Patriotic pieces from the Great War/Out of Flanders


Three of us sat on the firing-bench
Watching the clouds sail by—
Watching the gray dawn blowing up
Like smoke across the sky.
And I thought as I listened to London Joe
Tell of his leave in town,
That's good vers libre with a Cockney twang;
I'll remember and write it down.

W'en I went 'ome on furlough,
My missus says to me, "Joe,
'Ow many 'Uns 'ave you killed?"
An' I says to 'er, "'Uns?"
Not thinkin' just wot she meant.
"Yes. 'Uns," she says, "them sneakin', low-lived 'Uns!"
Bitter? Not 'arf, she ain't!
An' they're all the same w'y in Lunnon.

My old mate Bill, who's lame
An' couldn't enlist on that account,
'E staked me to a pint of ale
At the Red Lion. Proper stuff it was
Arter this flat French beer.
"Well, 'ere's to old times!" says Bill,
Raisin' 'is glass,
"An' bad luck to the 'Uns you've sent below!
'E arsked if I'd shot an' seen 'em fall,
Wanted the de-tails and wanted 'em all!

An' there was my old hoss in Balham,
Gave me a quid w'ich I took, willin' enough,
Altho I made a stall at refusin'.
"That's all right, Joe, boy! Glad to do it!
It ain't much, but it'll 'elp you to 'ave a pleasant week,
But w'en you goes back to the trenches,
I wants you to take a crack at the 'Uns fer me!
Get me a German fer every penny in that sovereign!" 'e says,
Smashin' 'is fist on the table
An' upsettin' a bottle o' ink.
"Lay 'em out!" 'e says;
"Now tell me, 'ow many you killed, about?"

Speakin' o' 'ymns o' 'ate,
They sings 'em in Lunnon, I'm tellin' you straight!
You ought to see their faces w'en they arsks you about the 'Uns!
Lor' lummy! They ain't arf a bloodthirsty lot!
An' the wimmen as bad as the men.
I was glad to get back to the trenches again
W'ere there's more of a 'uman feelin'.

Now, us blokes out 'ere,
We knows old Fritzie ain't so bad as 'e's painted
(An' likely, they knows the same about us).
Wot I mean is, 'e ain't no worse than wot we are,
Take 'im man fer man.
There's good an' bad on both sides.
But do you think you can s'y anything good
About a German, w'en yer in Lunnon?
Strike me pink! They won't believe you!
'E's a 'Un, wotever that is,
Some kind o' wild beast, I reckon—
A cross between a snake
An' one o' them boars with 'orns on their noses
Out at Regent's Park Zoo.