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1915 > Sligo Poetry 1915 > Sligo Nationalist

Many poems were written making fun of Germany and especially of the Kaiser usually depicted as a vain-glorious tyrant with illusions of grandure. What was termed German "kultur", which indicated an uncivilised predisposition for war, cruelty, and destructiveness was also derided, and contrasted with "the British way" which was civilised.

There was a well-known theatrical farce called More Blunders than One, or, The Irish valet written by Thomas G. Rodwell and first published in 1825. This poem was also printed in the The Mail (Adelaide, South Australia) in February 1915.

Duncan Tovey, the author of Ten Little Sausages, was a popular writer of military songs, and at one time had been a professional actor. He joined tha army and was wounded early in the war. He died of his injuries in 1918.

The rhyme, Ten Little Niggers, was a standard of the blackface minstrel shows and became widely known in Europe. It was used by Agatha Christie in her novel 'Ten Little Niggers' (1939) which was later re-titled 'And Then There Were None'.

There were also many comic poems written by serving soldiers which found humour in the conditions or the absurdity of army regulations. Not many of these appeared in newspapers. In Noakes, Voices of Silence, A Letter from the Front is given as having first appeared in a trench newspaper, Dead Horse Corner Gazette, in June 1916 and was reprinted in other trench newspapers. Obviously it had been written at least one year before that.

The version in Noakes is almost identical but doesn't have lines 9-10 or 15-16 of the Sligo Nationalist version.

Sligo Nationalist 10 April 1915
    More Blunders than One


When the Kaiser pounced on Belgium,
In defiance of all laws,
And by robbery and plunder
Sought victory for his cause:
When he ruined holy places,
Like fierce, relentless Hun,
And pillaged ruined homesteads—
That was Blunder Number One.

When Von Kluck dash’d on for Paris,
In crazy, headlong rush,
And sought by weight of numbers
The British force to crush;
When he thought he was the victor—
As French his lines withdrew—
And stretched his arm’ out too far—
That was Blunder Number two.

When the cock-sure German General Staff
Saw the allies in retreat,
And thought a beaten army
Lay lamely at their feet;
When the crown Prince told his Guardsmen
The heroes they would be
When “swanking” it through Paris—
That was Blunder Number Three.

When the Kaiser tried for Calais,
And loudly made his boast
That ere another moon had come
He’d reach the English coast
With a well-appointed army
By big ships carried o’er,
And sack our towns and cities—
That was Blunder Number Four.

When the War-Lord journeyed eastward
Von Hindenburg to see
And urged him on to Warsaw,
Whatever the cost might be;
When he promised iron crosses
To all he’d find alive
When next he’d come to visit them—
That was Blunder Number Five.

When he urged the Turks in Egypt
To rise up in their might,
And by the Prophet’s flowing beard,
The “Christian dog” to smite;
When he told the doting moselm
He had England in a fix
And would crush her down for ever—
That was Blunder Number Six.

When the Kaiser’s birthday came around,
And the “Staff,” all in high glee,
Promised him some monster gifts
From off the land and sea.
When they loudly sang their “song of hate,”
—And pledged their vows to heaven,
His enemies were sure to fall—
That was Blunder Number Seven.

When the Kaiser send his warships,
Before darkness passed away,
To murder helpless wives and babes
Who peaceful sleeping lay;
When they met with Admiral Beatty,
And found they were too late.
[missing line]

That was Blunder Number Eight.

When the Kaiser sent his soldiers
Cardinal Mercier to arrest
Because he loved his stricken flock,
Who sorely were oppressed;
When they burned the famous Pastoral
And scoffed it o’er their wine,
They quickly came to realize—
That was Blunder Number Nine.

When Britain’s “little army”
Got nothing but a sneer
From the bloated big battalions
Of the land of lager beer;
When William thought he’d shake them off
Like ink-drops from his pen
That signed the broken treaties—
That was Blunder Number Ten.

But when the war is over,
And the cost is totalled up,
The Kaiser then will doubly drain
The dregs of sorrow’s cup;
When he views his ruined country—
Lost lives he can’t recall,
He’ll find his greatest blunder
Was to start the war at all!


                 Sligo Independent 30 January 1915
                       “TEN LITTLE SAUSAGES.”

With sincere apologies to the Ten Little Nigger Boys.

(Sergeant Duncan Tovey, a popular sergeant of the London Scottish, who lately returned wounded from the front, wrote the following verses on Christmas Eve during a sleepless night in a clearing hospital on the way down to the base.)

10 little sausages marching all in line, one stopped to burn Louvain and then there were 9.
9 little sausages, sorry to relate, one was found spying and then there were 8.
8 little sausages dropping bombs from Heaven; one dropped himself instead and then there were 7.
7 little sausages, up to lots of tricks; one was caught in khaki and then there were 6.
6 little sausages an officer to drive; by mistake he got in front and then there were 5.
5 little sausages waging cultured war; one stopped to kill a child and then there were 4.
4 little sausages marching to Paree; one got there a prisoner and then there were 3.
3 little sausages, looking rather blue; one met a Russian Bear and then there were 2.
2 little sausages, father and son; the boy was “lagged” for burglary and then there was 1.
1 little Kaiser, left all alone; Won’t he have a bill pay for all that he has done.
                                             Duncan Tovey, in the Daily Mail.


Sligo Nationalist 5 June 1915
    The Kaiser’s Supplication.

Oh! Lord of Hosts I come to Thee:
A suppliant on bended knee,
A broken wretch in whom Thou’ll see
The one Thou had’st appointed
To buckle on his armour bright,
And sally forth with all his might
To conquer everything in sight,
He being the Lord’s anointed.

Thou knowest Lord, how I began,
And with my legions overran
To ruin with no gentle plan
That little Belgian nation,
For, Lord, I knew Thou’d make them wise
In time to fully realize
It was a blessing in disguise,
For their moral elevation.

Thou know’st how then I did advance
With hopeful steps thro’ sunny France,
And the natives tried, with sword and lance,
To in kultur educate em’.
How the perfidious Briton came
Shoving his nose into the game,
Robbing my troops of well-earned fame,
Oh! Lord, how I do hate ’em.

And, Lord, Thou knowest how on the seas
These Britons can with utmost ease
Do with my ships just what they please,
If I would only let ’em.
How I’ve placed my noble men of war
So snug within the harbour bar,
That powerful tho’ these Britons are,
They’ll find it hard to get ’em.

And further, Lord, Thou knowest that when
I daren’t beard the lion in his den,
How I sneaked behind him, got now and then
A nibble at his tail.
How I sent my submarines below
His merchant ships and men to blow
To kingdom come, that he might know
I still was on his trail.

And when my gallant seamen brave
No efforts made the crews to save,
But let them sink in a watery grave
When aid they could have lent ’em.
’Twas because they heard the angels sing
The heavenly gates will open swing
When they to Thee the tidings bring
That a German twas who sent ’em.

And now, O Lord, I humbly pray
Thou’ll send those British ships away
To the place below, and there to stay
Till they kultur have instilled,
For I say to Thee, Oh! Lord of Hosts,
That never at whatever costs
Till in Hades Britain navy roasts
Can thy mission be fulfilled.


Sligo Nationalist 13 November 1915
         A Letter from the Front.

The army has suffered an awful rout
In the terrible battle of (name left out),
But the enemy’s hordes have been defeated
On the banks of the River (name deleted).
The Austrians, under General Gank,
Attacked the Russians at (name left blank):
On the road near (cut) they fled in fear,
But they turned and fought at (blue-pencilled here).
In Asia, I hear, three thousand Japs
Have taken—(consult the maps).
Our men have had but little rest
Since the fighting began at (name suppressed):
But a funny thing happened—we had to laugh—
When (word gone) we (missed paragraph).
We laughed
and laughed, it was lots of fun,
In spite of the awful (sentence gone).
If the censor destroys this letter, well,
I wish the censor would go to (the rest of the page was torn off by the censor).

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