War brought a regular flow of patriotic verse to the pages of the Shipley Times & ExpressSome of the most powerful came from men serving at the front and aimed at their contemporaries who stayed at home
In a letter home, dated 10 January 1915, Cpl George Yates wrote about the very rough weather he and his men were experiencing in France but added that he had plenty of warm clothes. He asked to be sent some ‘eatables and a few cigarettes.’He included a poem he had written during a brief respite from the firing line:Our place of abode is a place of rest,Though behind the guns we are fully dressed.Fully united, four countries in one,The Kaiser must know we are not out for fun.We shall avenge poor Belgium in good English styleThen the Kaiser’s face will not wear a smile,For we skin the sausages in the good old style,And make them run for many a mile.Now Yorkshire lads in factory, shop and mineJoin Kitchener’s Army. Tis a perilous time.Don’t be afraid, it is a great causeTo keep the old country from German laws.So don’t hang back, but wear khakiCome fight for England, the land of the free.
Just across the strip of water,Not so very far away,There’s a mighty contest waging,Britishers are in the fray.They have left their homes and kindred,Wives and little children too,Proud to serve their King and country –Can the same be said of you?Have you left your all in Britain,Everything that you loved best?
Have you earned the name of comrade,Are you serving with the rest?Oh be British in the spiritFor our cause is just and true, Do not stay behind, a slacker,There is work for you to do.For the foe is keen and cunning,Thinks no game too low to play,Can’t you hear your country calling –Come! We need you now, today!
Pte H Weedon wrote from India praising those who had answered the call but added: ‘Still I maintain there are a few slackers who would be better employed other than in their present capacity.‘Do they ever think of the future or are they blind to everything outside their own little world? They must surely know by now the need for every available young man, especially the single ones.’And he added a poem:COME, WE NEED YOU TODAY!
Cpl G W Bone of the RAMC sent a poem also published on 22 October 1915.ENLIST! ENLIST! ENLIST!Will YOU stay at home with your hands still white,While your brother’s blood runs red –A ghastly sight both day and night –And YOU safe in your bed?Great dangers many men have facedFor the sake of the dear Homeland;Of might misplaced they’ve had a tasteBut bravely took their stand.At horrors oft men stand aghastAnd then pour forth their blood;The wretched past we’ll avenge at last;Crime must give way to good.
We want more men, and still more menBefore this can be done.Do you realise the fact?God! Will you never come?I am only a British sailormanBut I put it to you straightEnter Kitchener’s ArmyBefore it is too late.
Ere the butt of the enemy’s rifleCome crashing through the doorAnd the blood of innocent childrenStains the kitchen floor.Tell them you are comingTom, Dick and Harry too,Shoulder to shoulder and hand to handTo pull the Empire through.
On 22 October 1915 the paper printed the last few lines of a poem that assistant paymaster E Allison Burrows, RNR, had written about the war in the Dardanelles
Oft in my dug-out I thinkOf the poor chaps left at home,And the miseries that surround themNo matter where they roamHow awful it must be at nightTo sleep in a feather bedAnd find for breakfast daily,Sweet butter on their bread.Out here the things are different,And life is great and free.We don’t find butter on our breadNor cow’s milk in our tea.The only things that bother usAre lyddite, bombs and shells,
Bully beef and biscuits And foul, unhealthy smells.To all my pals at ShipleyI send my sympathyAnd advise them for their honourTo come out here with me.There are young men at ShipleyCan do their bit, I’m sure,So let them join the RFAAnd win for all that’s pure.Then let us buckle in and fightTill wicked wars shall cease,And sword and spear and bombs and shellsGive place to lasting peace.
Driver Herbert Pawson of the Royal Field Artillery sent a letter to his mother at 96a Crag Road, Windhill which contained a poem which summed up many soldiers’ view of those who were shirking serving.It was published on 12 May 1916