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Sligo Independent 2 January 1915

He came obedient to the Call!
He might have shirked like half his mates,
Who, while their comrades fight and fall,
Still go to swell the football gates.

And you, a patriot in your prime,
You waved a flag above his head,
And hoped he'd have a high old time,
And slapped him on the back and said:

“You’ll show him what we British are!
Give us your hand, old pal, to shake:”
And took him round from bar to bar,
And made him drunk—for England's sake.

That’s how you helped him. Yesterday,
Clear-eyed and earnest, keen and hard,
He held himself the soldier's way
And now they’ve got him under guard.

That doesn’t hurt you; you're all right;
Your easy conscience takes no blame;
But he, poor boy, with morning’s light,
He eats his heart out, sick with shame.

What's that to you? You understand
Nothing of all his bitter pain;
You have no regiment to brand;
You have no uniform to stain;

No vow of service to abuse,
No pledge to King and country due;
But he had something dear to lose,
And he has lost it—thanks to you.
From Punch.                        O.S.

The poem above, by Owen Seaman, was widely published in newspapers and journals including in The West Australian (Perth, WA) Monday 28 December 1914 and in The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate (NSW) Friday 1 October 1915.

Owen Seaman (1861–1936) was a British writer, journalist and poet, best known as editor of Punch, from 1906 to 1932. In 1914 he was knighted. During the war, he wrote a considerable volume of patriotic verse. In 1915, he published War Time: verses, a book of poetry described by one critic as "a mixture of satiric verse and patriotic doggerel."

This poem attacks those young men who have not enlisted, criticising the fact that the football league continued during the war, but also attacks the presumably older men who in a fit of false partriotism show their appreciation of those who volunteer by getting them drunk and into trouble with the army.  

Sligo Independent 6 February 1915


“Britain! Mother Britain! In thine hour of need
Gather now the harvest of thy wide-sown seed.
Though the seas divide us, all one people we,
Bound to thee more clearly by our liberty.
Though the seas divide us, ev’ry ocean’s spanned
By the love we bear thee, Britain! Motherland!”

Gray mother of great nations hear
Thy children’s pledge to thee:
In days of danger doubly dear
Blest island of the free!
Where’er thy far-flung banner flies
A loyal people stand,
Who count as life’s most glorious prize
Thy service,–Motherland.

Thy navies kept the distant seas,
And guard thine ancient shore,
While richly laden argosies
Into thy harbours pour;
More precious cargoes carrying
Than e’er yet reached thy strand,
They children back to thee they bring
For service,–Motherland.

By bonds of love are surely bound
Thy Daughter States to thee;
And now thy trust in them is crowned
With splendid loyalty!
All that they have is thine today,
For they have nobly planned
Thy constant largess to repay
By service,–Motherland.

“Britain! Mother Britain! In thine hour of need
Gather now the harvest of thy wide-sown seed.
Though the seas divide us, we are British still,
Firm to stand or fall with thee. Thine through good or ill.
Though the seas divide us, ev’ry ocean’s spanned
By the love we bear thee, Britain! Motherland!”

                                Harold Vesey Damer.

Sligo Independent 20 March 1915

Strike Strike if you will, but strike for all,
Against the common foe,
Who ceases work at faction's call,
At Britain aims a blow.
You also serve who night and day
At forge and factory work;
You also have a debt to pay,
What man of you will shirk ?

Strike! Aye, strike hard. But use the word
So a brave blow is meant
Strike as true men to anger stirred,
Avenge the innocent.
Needs personal and factionist,
Pat all of them away,
And every energy enlist
In Britain's cause to-day.

Strike, but for Britain
Every shell
Aud gun and ship you make,
Is needed 'gainst the hosts of hell,
Strike for your children's sake.
The home divided cannot stand,
The unused tool will rust,  
To-day you serve the Motherland,
Be worthy of her trust.

The Sligo Independent published five poems by Harold Vesey Damer in February, March and April 1915. All are written in an archar "poetic" style, full of nobel sentiments and patriotic appeals.

Damer is not included in Catherine Reilly's Bibliography of English war poetry which indicates that he had no volume of verse published and was not included in any of the many anthologies of war poetry of the time.

His poems were widely published in local newspapers, for example in the Kingston Gleaner, Jamacia, 19 December, 1914, Slough, Eton & Windsor Observer in January and May 1915 and the Brecon County Times in January, February and March 1915.

In The Harvest of Britain the "Daughter States" Australia, New Zealand, Canada and India assure the motherland of their support in the conflict. I presume that "Grey mother" in stanza 2 is a typographical error for "Great mother" though "Grey" also occurs in the version published in the Brecon County Times on 28 January 1915.

Strike is an appeal to workers to cease all industrial agitation for the duration of the war in the national interest. Britain's workers supported their country and met the vital targets that ensured victory. However employers and unions did not put aside their differences during the war.

There had been many strikes for better pay or working conditions before the war, some bitter and violent. This bad feeling continued into the war. When women workers were brought in, many trade unions opposed them, fearing that men workers would be sacked and replaced by women workers who were paid less.

The unions were also alarmed by Prime Minister David Lloyd George's policy of using leading businessmen to run government departments. The government tried to outlaw strikes in 1915 but they had to climb down from this position after metalworkers on the Clyde (Glasgow) went on strike.

The government simply could not afford to lose production. This gave the unions great strength. In 1917 and 1918 the Amalgamated Society of Engineers went on strike and forced the government to give in to all their demands.

It was no surprise that when the war ended the bitterness and hostility continued and resulted in the General Strike of 1926. Information from the UK National Archives.

Sligo Independent 30 January 1915

It isn’t the way of the British
In the fight for country and King,
On the fair, white field of their valour,
The shadow of shame to bring.
There isn’t a lad in the army,
There isn’t a lad on the sea,
Would dim the light of his honour,
By a deed of infamy.

It isn’t the way of Britain
To grasp with greedy hand,
And hold with a despot’s power,
Domain in a friendly land.
But she fights for “a scrap of paper,”
She dies for “an old colored rag,”
When the one is her word of promise,
And the other her blood-stained flag.

It isn’t the way of the British,
With ruthless hands of hate,
The priceless things of a nation
To plunder and desecrate.
Not ‘gainst defenceless women
And children their guns are turned;
Not ‘gainst the weak and fallen
That isn't the way they’ve learned.

It isn't the way of the British
To strike like the heathen hordes,
To torture the hapless captives
They take at the point of their swords.
That was never the way with Britain.
Her strength is the strength of ten;
For her sons in her far-flung warfare,
Fight ever like gentlemen.

There were thirty or more of our gunners
It seems now so long ago-
Were called to a post of peril,
In the path of the furious foe.
It was certain death, and they knew it;
But the valour in each heart burned.
"Good-by, good-by to you fellows!"
They called and never returned.

Again came the short, sharp summons,
And there dashed thru the sulphurous smoke,
With the same farewell to their comrades,
While a wreath of smile outbroke
Thirty to follow the thirty;
And the eager ranks closed in.
That is the way of the British.
That is the way they win.

This is the way of the British
In the strength of their righteous cause,
Upheld by the hosts of heaven,
They strike for their King and laws.
From what do they shrink – our soldiers?
They may lose in the fearful fray,
Their lives, but never their honour,
Who fight in the British way.

Then here’s to you lads in the army,
And here’s to you lads on the sea;
To the hands that are strong and steady,
To the hearts that are true and free!
Tho long it be ere the dawning,
It cometh at last the day,
When all that you’ve fought for, bled for,
You shall win in the British way.

Lilian Leveridge in Orilla Packet

Lilian Leveridge (1879-1953) was born in Norfolk, England and moved to Canada with her parents when she was four. They settled in Ontario. She wrote short stories, poems and articles which were widely published in Canadian and U.S. periodicals. She was best known for her war poem, Over the Hills of Home, which was widely published and quoted. This poem, The Way of the British, was published in Leveridge's collection "Over the Hills of Home," (1918).

It is a long exposition of a mainstay of British war propaganda, asserting that the British and their allies were fighting for "civilisation" and that the enemy represented the forces on barbarism, "valour" and "honour" against "infamy" and "plunder", "gentlemen" against "heathen".

One month later
Harold Vesey Damer had a poem published in this same newspaper entitled The British Way which had the following refrain:
First into the field,
Last out of the fray,
Never to cry "I yield,"
That is the British way.

Sligo Independent 13 February 1915
                         Fall In!

(Harold Begbie’s “Fall In”! is a genuine hit. Reprinted and quoted everywhere, it seems so far to be the war poem par excellence. It has been set to music by Sir Frederick Cowen. It is one of a number of stirring productions turned out in the the last few weeks by Begbie, who ranks as the most prolific of the war poets.)

‘What will you lack, sonny, what will you lack,
When the girls line up the street
Shouting their love to the lads to come back
From the foe they rushed to beat?
Will you send a strangled cheer to the sky
And grin till your cheeks are red?
But what will you lack when your mate goes by
With a girl who cuts you dead?

Where will you look, sonny, where will you look,
When your children yet to be
Clamour to learn of the part you took
In the war that kept men free?
Will you say it was naught to you if France
Stood up to her foe or bunked?
But where will you look when they give the glance
That tells you they know you funked?

How will you fare, sonny, how will you fare
In the far-off winter night,
When you sit by the fire in an old man's chair
And your neighbours talk of the fight?
Will you slink away, as it were from a blow,
Your old head shamed and bent?
Or say–I was not with the first to go,
But I went, thank God, I went?

Why do they call, sonny, why do they call
For men who are brave and strong?
Is it naught to you if your country fall,
And Right is smashed by Wrong?
Is it football still and the picture show,
The pub and the betting odds,
When your brothers stand to the tyrant’s blow,
And England’s call is God’s!

Harold Begbie (1871–1929) was an English author and journalist who published nearly fifty books and poems. He wrote studies of the Christian religion, political satire, comedy, fiction, science fiction, plays and poetry. His collection, Fighting Lines and Various Reinforcements, which included war poetry, was published in 1914. He was hostile to Catholicism but supported Irish home rule. He acted as ghostwriter for the memoir of the Irish polar explorer Ernest Shackleton.

Fall In! is a straightforward appeal to young men to join the army. Conscription had not yet been introduced and there was a great need for new recruits. The poem repeats the same appeals used on a variety of recruitment advertisements and posters of the time, asking the young man to consider what the girls/children/neighbours will think of him after the war if he doesn't join up. See poster at top of page from British Recruiting Posters of the Frist World War on the Peace and War in the 20th Century website.

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