Friday, December 25, 2020

Peace on Earth to Men of Goodwill

’Twas Christmas Day on the Somme

’Twas Christmas Day on the Somme
The men stood on parade,
The snow laid six feet on the ground
Twas twenty in the shade.

Up spoke the Captain ‘gallant man’,
"Just hear what I’ve to say,
You may not have remembered that
Today is Christmas Day."

"The General has expressed a wish
This day may be observed,
Today you will only work eight hours,
A rest that’s well deserved.

I hope you’ll keep yourselves quite clean
And smart and spruce and nice,
The stream is frozen hard
But a pick will break the ice."

"All men will get two biscuits each,
I’m sure you’re tired of bread,
I’m sorry there’s no turkey
but there’s Bully Beef instead.
The puddings plum have not arrived
But they are on their way,
I’ll guarantee they’ll be in time
To eat next Christmas Day."

"You’re parcels would have been in time
But I regret to say
The vessel which conveyed them was
Torpedoed on the way.

The Quartermaster’s got your rum
But you may get some yet,
Each man will be presented with
A Woodbine Cigarette."

"The Huns have caught us in the rear
And painted France all red,
Pray do not let that trouble you,
Tomorrow you’ll be dead.

Now ere you go I wish you all
This season of good cheer,
A very happy Christmas and
A prosperous New Year."

A note on the author, Leslie George Rub of Towoomba, Queensland, Australia. He sailed for Alexandria on board the H.M.A.T. Wandilla to serve with the 26th Battalion and 2nd Pioneers first in France, and then on to Flanders in Belgium. In autumn of 1917 he fought in the Third Battle of Ypres. Three days later, while making a road between Broodseinde Ridge and Westhoek Ridge his unit was shelled and Mister Rub was hit in the kidneys by shrapnel. He died the next morning, on the 23rd September 1917. 

God rest ye merry gentle man, and know that your cheeky humor lives on in this bittersweet Christmas poem. Neither you nor your sacrifice are forgotten, and you are in our prayers on this blessed day.

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