I will always reply to comments and always re-reply to re-replies.

Monday, November 06, 2006


(click above link for background with a difference)
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


I went into a public 'ouse to get a pint o'beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, ``We serve no red-coats here.''
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' ``Tommy, go away'';
But it's ``Thank you, Mister Atkins,'' when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's ``Thank you, Mr. Atkins,'' when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music 'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' ``Tommy, wait outside'';
But it's ``Special train for Atkins'' when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's ``Special train for Atkins'' when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' ``Tommy how's yer soul?''
But it's ``Thin red line of 'eroes'' when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's ``Thin red line of 'eroes'' when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an ``Tommy, fall be'ind,''
But it's ``Please to walk in front, sir,'' when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's ``Please to walk in front, sir,'' when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an'schools, an' fires an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' ``Chuck him out, the brute!''
But it's ``Saviour of 'is country,'' when the guns begin to shoot;
Yes it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool--you bet that Tommy sees!
Rudyard Kipling

Can I also recommend Kipling's short story "The Gardener" (the whole of which can be read at this site) which is appropriate to this time and is one of his greatest short stories - full of allusions and hidden meanings. (And, of course, he lost his only son at the battle of Loos in WW1)

This is dedicated to all those who died then and those still fighting, wounded and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq now. We will have our own opinions and politics on these matters. Servicemen and women do not have that luxury, but still get on with the job they are given to do, as they have always done.


herhimnbryn said...

And there was silence.

Knowleypowley said...

Beautfuly put Avus, beatifully put

Nea said...

We do all have our own opinions on war, but one thing is for certain, we need to be there in word and deed for our brave troups. As the poem said, when we need them we shout their praises........but often after the war, all is forgotten. Great post.

Avus said...

Nea - now I know from your blog that your son is a Marine. I wish him good luck and safe keeping.

Wenda said...

Great post and thanks so much for the link to Kipling's Story and the rest of the site where it is posted. I'm so deeply moved.

Avus said...

Thanks for visiting Wenda. That story moves me to tears and I could never trust myself to read it out loud!

I found your story about "Uncle Eddie" very moving also - and that was "all your own work".

I have added you to my links 'cos I like your blog. Thank you!

herhimnbryn said...

A. Go here

Vita said...

You call it Rememberance Day? We used to call it Armistice Day, but now we call it Veterans' Day to honor all veterans from all wars. I didn't know about yours until I saw HHnB's picture with links.

herhimnbryn said...

Avus man where are you?

Avus said...

HHnB - been busy recently, but new posting soon