Durham & Tyneside Dialect Group / exit

A SOLDIER'S POEM

Composed at the Front by Pte. A. Gibbons, No.2050 'D' Coy, 4th Northd. Fusiliers

The following text was written to be printed as cards to sell at 'one penny each - proceeds to get cigarettes, etc., for local soldiers at the Front'. Several such poems are believed to have been printed, but only the text below is readily available - details of any others very welcome! They form examples of early writing by Albert Gibbons, later to compose 'Canny Prudhoe' and 'The Bad Haaf Croon'.
The card itself runs through a swatch of emotions, from the confidence of recruits, to the reality of war, and a resigned clam for what the future night bring - all within the careful diction of patriotism. It forms a particularly moving tribute to the many losses sustained by volunteers from Prudhoe in World War One, where almost all the young men had enlisted together - redundant at home because of the fall off in coal exports the War itself brought about.


drawing of WW1 soldier
from N'd Fusilier Museum

Dear Tommy, just a line or two,
To let you know that we've pulled through,
And to our country we'll be true,
   The canny lads from Prudhoe.

To Blyth we came as strangers, but friends we parted,
And every lad was broken-hearted,
When on the boat for France we started,
   The canny lads from Prudhoe.

We soon got face to face with Huns,
And their big Jack Johnson guns,
And they teemed the shrapnel in by tons,
   On the canny lads from Prudhoe.

It just seemed to be our luck,
On we went with British pluck,
Till a piece of shrapnel came and struck
   A canny lad from Prudhoe.

He faltered, then on his face he fell,
Beside him I knelt down as well,
And how he died just I can tell,
   That canny lad from Prudhoe.

Rather than bring a German slave,
He lies on the field among the brave,
And I wrote on wood across his grave--
   A canny lad from Prudhoe.

He volunteered to cross the sea,
To fight for his King and country,
And fell for England's liberty --
   That canny lad from Prudhoe.

Tell Thomas Davison, of Cowpen Quay,
And also Robert Caisley,
That you have had a line from me,
   One of the lads from Prudhoe.

And tell them we are keeping fit,
As in our dug-outs here we sit,
Ready again to do our bit --
   The canny lads from Prudhoe.

All the boys join in and send
Their best respects to all their friends,
And on Providence it all depends --
   For the canny lads from Prudhoe.

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