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Lest We Forget


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#1 SFX

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 02:22 PM

The Last of the Light Brigade ~Rudyard Kipling There were thirty million English who talked of England's might, There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night. They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade; They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade. They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long, That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song. They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door; And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four! They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey; Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they; And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, "Let us go to the man who writes The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites." They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong, To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song; And, waiting his servant's order, by the garden gate they stayed, A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade. They strove to stand to attention, to straighten the toil-bowed back; They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack; With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed, They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade. The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and "Beggin' your pardon," he said, "You wrote o' the Light Brigade, sir. Here's all that isn't dead. An' it's all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin' the mouth of hell; For we're all of us nigh to the workhouse, an' we thought we'd call an' tell. "No, thank you, we don't want food, sir; but couldn't you take an' write A sort of 'to be continued' and 'see next page' o' the fight? We think that someone has blundered, an' couldn't you tell 'em how? You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now." The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn. And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with "the scorn of scorn." And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame, Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame. They sent a cheque to the felon that sprang from an Irish bog; They healed the spavined cab-horse; they housed the homeless dog; And they sent (you may call me a liar), when felon and beast were paid, A cheque, for enough to live on, to the last of the Light Brigade.* O thirty million English that babble of England's might, Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night; Our children's children are lisping to "honour the charge they made - " And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!
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#2 SFX

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 09:31 PM

In September 1899, it was clear that the crisis in South Africa was likely to turn into war. By 2 October, all military leave had been cancelled, and urgent preparations were under way to send a large expeditionary force to the Cape, with horses and supplies being requisitioned and mobilised.[1] On 7 October, a proclamation was issued calling out the Army Reserve. Of 65,000 liable men, around 25,000 were intended to be called up for service.[2]

Posted Image Posted Image The Relief of Ladysmith. White greets Major Hubert Gough on 28 February 1900. Painting by John Henry Frederick Bacon (1868–1914) Many, if not all, of the men thus mobilised were ex-soldiers in permanent employment for whom returning to military duty meant a significant cut in their income. In addition, there was no contemporary legislation of the time protecting the permanent employment of Reservists. Employers could – and often would – replace them with other workers, with no guarantee that if the soldier returned he would be able to take back his job.[3] As a result, a large number of families were quickly plunged into poverty, since a lifestyle comfortably maintained on a workman's wage of twenty shillings could not be kept up on the infantryman's "shilling a day". As if this were not enough, there was no guarantee that the husband would have a job to return to, even without the prospect of injury or death. A number of charitable funds existed to support these individuals, most notably the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, but a number of private appeals were also made.[4]

Simultaneously, a wave of patriotism was sweeping the country, catered to by jingoist newspapers such as the Daily Mail. Many of these newspapers were also involved in the charitable fundraising efforts to benefit the Reservists and their dependents. The Daily Mail proprietor, Alfred Harmsworth, had publicised efforts to help soldiers and their families. This drew the attention of Rudyard Kipling, who produced "The Absent-Minded Beggar" on 16 October 1899[5] and sent the verses to Harmsworth on 22 October with a note that "they are at your service. ... turn [the proceeds] over to any one of the regularly ordained relief-funds, as a portion of your contribution. I don't want my name mixed up in the business except as it will help to get money. It's catchpenny verse and I want it to catch just as many pennies as it can. ... [p.s.] It isn't a thing I shall care to reprint; so there is no need of copyrighting it in America. If any one wants to sing it take care that the proceeds go to our men."[6] By 25 October, Kipling was plotting with Harmsworth on how to maximise the fundraising from the poem by having it recited at music halls. He suggested finding a composer to set it to a "common + catchy" tune.[6]







When you've shouted "Rule Britannia": when you've sung "God Save the Queen"[20]
When you've finished killing Kruger with your mouth:
Will you kindly drop a shilling in my little tambourine
For a gentleman in khaki ordered South?
He's an absent-minded beggar and his weaknesses are great:
But we and Paul must take him as we find him:
He is out on active service wiping something off a slate:
And he's left a lot of little things behind him!
Duke's son - cook's son - son of a hundred kings,
(Fifty thousand horse and foot going to Table Bay!)
Each of 'em doing his country's work (and who's to look after the things?)
Pass the hat for your credit's sake, and pay - pay - pay!

There are girls he married secret, asking no permission to,
For he knew he wouldn't get it if he did.
There is gas and coal and vittles, and the house-rent falling due,
And it's rather more than likely there's a kid.
There are girls he walked with casual, they'll be sorry now he's gone,
For an absent-minded beggar they will find him,
But it ain't the time for sermons with the winter coming on:
We must help the girl that Tommy's left behind him!
Cook's son - Duke's son - son of a belted Earl,
Son of a Lambeth publican - it's all the same to-day!
Each of 'em doing his country's work (and who's to look after the girl?)
Pass the hat for your credit's sake, and pay - pay - pay!

There are families by the thousands, far too proud to beg or speak:
And they'll put their sticks and bedding up the spout,
And they'll live on half o' nothing paid 'em punctual once a week,
'Cause the man that earned the wage is ordered out.
He's an absent-minded beggar, but he heard his country's call,
And his reg'ment didn't need to send to find him;
He chucked his job and joined it - so the task before us all
Is to help the home that Tommy's left behind him!
Duke's job - cook's job - gardener, baronet, groom -
Mews or palace or paper-shop - there's someone gone away!
Each of 'em doing his country's work (and who's to look after the room?)
Pass the hat for your credit's sake, and pay - pay - pay!

Let us manage so as later we can look him in the face,
And tell him what he'd very much prefer:
That, while he saved the Empire his employer saved his place,
And his mates (that's you and me) looked out for her.
He's an absent-minded beggar, and he may forget it all,
But we do not want his kiddies to remind him
That we sent 'em to the workhouse while their daddy hammered Paul,
So we'll help the homes that Tommy's left behind him!
Cook's home - Duke's home - home of a millionaire -
(Fifty thousand horse and foot going to Table Bay!)
Each of 'em doing his country's work (and what have you got to spare?)
Pass the hat for your credit's sake, and pay - pay - pay!




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