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Poetry Magnum Opus

Briggsy (Part One)


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Hold hard on the plain, Dan Tremayne,

and don’t you worry. We’ll bring

the roaring guns up here in an instant,

the Royal galloping Horse Artillery.

Stay with me, old man, don’t drift away,

these bloody Boers can’t kill you!


Well, they did, and he died,

and that was no smile upon his lips

but a rictus of sheer agony, a gut shot.

So I went and married his widow

when they sent me back to London Town

and we lived in Ealing Broadway.


She was a blonde and sweet young pullet

quite fond of her port and lemon,

and we’d sit in the back of the Star and Garter

when they'd made me up to Sergeant.

I’d stayed on in the Army, it was a steady billet,

there was no real fear of being sent to India.


We rattled along easily enough

without any trouble from little kiddies,

I’d only need to put her over my knee

once or twice with the end of my belt

and dish out a few whacks, not vicious, like,

just to remind her what was what.


War seemed to be coming on in Ireland

but that was a local thing; the regiment,

in London barracks, would hardly be needed,

so we thought nothing of it. That summer

we went down to Kew and to Richmond

and had a few drinks along the river.


I was coming on to 40, getting old,

but the bouncy-bouncy was as good as ever

when the bloody Germans invaded Belgium.

Within days I found myself in France.

The marching was healthy till we got to Mons,

and there, quite suddenly, the killing started.


We must have shot thousands of them,

we’d been trained to shoot fifteen rounds a minute.

Time and time again they kept coming on

a swarm of grey rats coming over the stubble,

and we shot them down, wondering, laughing,

but then we were ordered, forced to fall back.


Smith-Dorrien, one of our few good generals,

bloodied the Jerries at Le Cateau

while Sir John (a cavalry bastard) fell into a funk

and marched us down the roads to Paris.

He had thoughts of evacuation back to England.

We were tired and so bloody angry, you wouldn’t believe it.


That frog general, Joffre, he shamed Sir John,

and although never mentioned, you can take that for true.

Our orders came down, we reversed the retreat,

we marched to meet the grey hordes on the River Marne.

We did our bit, but it was the French turned them back,

putting an end to the Kaiser's Schlieffen Plan.



Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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A detailed voice, resonant with the historical period and its personal implications. Another fascinating piece Bren!



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