Ropey Rhymes

The war is a time of ropey rhymes.

Many soldiers write simple poems and songs as they try to stay cheerful in bad times. Most of them are too rude to be shown here!

Private Stanley Woodburn writes his will on a postcard and carries it in his pocket. He writes it as a poem:

My belongings I leave to my next of kin,
My purse is empty there's nothing in.
My uniform, rifle, my pack and kit;
I leave to the poor devil they will fit;
But if this war I manage to clear
I'll keep it myself for a souvenir.

Private Woodburn would be killed in France in April 1918.

The song that sums up the First World War best is the simplest of them all. It is sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne:

We’re here because we’re here because
We’re here because we’re here
We’re here because we’re here because
We’re here because we’re here.

Martin Brown illustration titled ‘Here’
© Martin Brown 1998

That says it all, really.

Exhibition text by Terry Deary.

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