A Game of Soldiers


Captain looked around

saying send Billy in first

as just above the ground

yet another shell burst.


I don’t really want to bat

I’m feeling a little bit ill

it’s the gun’s ra-tat-tat tat

I’ll field behind the hill.


I’m too slow said Bert

and our Jack’s another

we’d best not get hurt

and upset dear mother.


Johnny was company cook

and held the firm belief

do not chance your luck

and risk the Bully Beef


Cecil the signals man

said tactics had shown

twas best if he and Dan

stayed to hold the phone


The Captain was at a loss

and though a fool and fop

he knew he was the boss

and must go o’er the top


He walked only a short way

before by fire was he hit

bravo ! that’s how you play

dying in his blood and shit


The men, all together said

‘Sod this for a game of soldiers’

lets go home instead.


2 thoughts on “A GAME OF SOLDIERS

  1. An excellent WW1 poem. You’ve captured the right sense of senseless dread, coupled with that slight tongue in cheek Brit ability to make light of serious matters. You almost made me believe you were part of the action – as well as instantly recalling for me ‘Black Adder Goes Forth’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much. I wanted to convey the sense that the rank & file were intelligent human beings who were more than aware of what was happening to them and not at all happy to sacrifice themselves. It’s a little unfair in it’s portrayal of the Captain as the field officers suffered the highest attrition rate of all, as a quick look at Public School rolls of honour will confirm . But of course staff officers were not in the front line . I once read an academic paper that suggested the working class were motivated by patriotism and the upper class by duty and that the middle class were least motivated to enlist as they had most to loose, which I found interesting.


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