Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Burning Question









Three Tommies sat in a trench one day,
Discussing the war, in the usual way,
They talked of the mud, and they talked of the Hun,
Of what was to do, and what had been done,
They talked about rum, and – ’tis hard to believe –
They even found time to speak about leave.
But the point which they argued from post back to pillar,
Was whether Notts County could beat Aston Villa.

The night sped away, and zero drew nigh,
Equipment made ready, all lips getting dry,
And watches consulted with each passing minute
Till five more to go, then ‘twould find them all in it;
The word came along down the line to “get ready!”
The sergeants admonishing all to keep steady,
But out rang a voice getting shriller and shriller:
“I tell yer Notts County can beat Aston Villa!”

The Earth shook and swayed, and the barrage was on
As they leapt o’er the top with a rush and were gone
Away into Hunland, through mud and through wire,
Stabbing and dragging themselves through the mire,
No time to heed those who are falling en route
Till, stopped by a strong point, they lay down to shoot,
Then, through the din came a voice: “Say, Jack Miller!
I tell yer Notts County can beat Aston Villa!”

The strong point has gone, and forward they press
Towards their objective, in numbers grown less
They reach it at last, and prepare to resist
The counter-attack which will come through the mist
Of the rain falling steadily; dig and hang on,
The word for support back to H.Q. has gone,
The air, charged with moment, grows stiller and stiller –
“Notts County’s no earthly beside Aston Villa.”

Two “Blighties”, a struggle through mud to get back
To the old A.D.S. down a rough duck-board track,
A hasty field dressing, a ride in a car,
A wait in a C.C.S., then there they are:
Packed side by side in a clean Red Cross train,
Happy in hopes to see Blighty again,
Still, through the bandages, muffled, “Jack Miller,
I bet you Notts County can beat Aston Villa!”

Anon. Published in Wipers Times, November 1917

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