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Saturday 18 December 1915 - The Song of the Trench

Category World War I: News of men at the Front
The Evesham Journal
Transcription of article



Lieut Lindsay Hamilton encloses with his last letter the copy of the poem, “The Song of the Trench” which he is careful to explain he did not compose himself; it was written by a lance-corpl. in his company. We agree with Lieut. Hamilton that it is pretty good and reproduce it:


This is the song of the blooming trench;

It’s sung by us and it’s sung by the French;

It’s probably sung by the German Huns,

But it isn’t all beer and skittles and buns

It’s a song of water and mud and slime,

And keeping your eyes skinned all the time.

Though the putrid “bully” may kick up a stench,

Remember you’ve got to stick to your trench.


You play while it’s dark and work while it’s light,

And there’s a listening post at night.

Though you’re soaked to the skin and chilled to the bone,

Though your hands are like ice and your feet like stone;

Though your watch is long and your rest is brief,

And you fervently pray for the next relief,

Though the wind may howl and the rain may drench,

Remember you’ve got to stick to your trench.


Perhaps a bullet may find its mark,

And then there’s a funeral after dark;

And you say as you lay beneath the sod,

“Another good man has gone to his God,”

Behind the trench in the open ground

There’s a little cross and a little mound;

And if at your heart-strings you feel a wrench

Remember he died for his blooming trench.


There’s a rush and a clash and they’re at your wire,

And you open the hell of a rapid fire;

And Maxims rattle and rifles flash,

And the bombs explode with a sickening crash.

You give them lead and you give them steel,

Till at last they waver and turn and reel;

And you’ve done your job – there was never a blench,

You’ve given them socks and saved your trench.


The daylight breaks on the rain-soaked plain,

For some it will never break again;

And you thank your God as you’re standing to,

You’d your bayonet clean and your bolt worked true.

For your comrade’s rifle has jammed and stuck,

And he’s lying there with his brains in a muck.

So love your gun as you would your wench,

And still save your life in your blooming trench.


It is not known who the Lieutenant Lindsay Hamilton was who is mentioned at the start of this article.  There was a Lieutenant Archibald Lindsay Hamilton of the Seaforth Highlanders (died 1917).

The lines were actually penned by Charles Walter Blackall who went out to France in November 1914 attached to the 1st battalion the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and began writing poetry about life in the trenches.  His poems were later published in 1915 under the title, “Songs from the Trenches” .  In the preface he wrote:

In the following rhymes, which make no pretension to literary merit, I have endeavoured to portray life in and around the trenches as I have seen it during several months of personal observation. Rejoining, as I did, my old regiment after several years in the theatrical profession, and coming, as it were, straight from the artificial to the real, enabled me to realise more fully than ever the wonderful pluck, endurance, and unfailing cheerfulness of our men.  In the lines entitled "The Song of the Trench" I have tried to describe some of the discomforts and hardships suffered by the troops in the winter 1914-15, and which were borne by them without murmur or complaint. Truly, the men are splendid. I may mention that all the incidents described in this little volume are either facts or founded on fact; and some, too, alas! are written around those who are no longer with us.

He was a Captain at the time he wrote the poems, and held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel when he was killed in 1918.