Sam Small had retired from the Army,
In the old Duke of Wellington’s time,
So when present unpleasantness started,
He were what you might call… past his prime.
He’d lived for some years in retirement,
And knew nowt of war, if you please,
Till they blasted and bombed his allotment,
And shelled the best part of his peas.
‘T were as if bugles called Sam to duty,
For his musket he started to search,
He found it at last in the Hen house,
Buff Orpingtons had it for perch.
Straight off to the Fusilliers’ depot,
He went to rejoin his old troop…
Where he found as they couldn’t recruit Him,
Until his age group was called up.
Now Sam wasn’t getting no younger,
Past the three score and ten years was he,
And he reckoned by time they reached his age group,
He’d be very near ten score and three.
So he took up the matter with Churchill,
Who said, “I don’t know what to do,
Never was there a time when so many,
Came asking so much from so few.”
“I don’t want no favours” Sam answered,
“Don’t think as I’m one of that mob,
All I’m asking is give me the tools, lad,
And let me help finish the job.”
“I’ll fit you in somewhere,” said Winnie,
“Old soldiers we must not discard.”
Then seeing he’d got his own musket,
He sent him to join the Home Guard.
They gave Sam a coat with no stripes on,
In spite of the service he’d seen,
Which considering he’d been a King’s sergeant,
Kind of rankled… you know what I mean.
He said “I come back to the Army,
Expecting my country’s thanks,
And the first thing I find when I get here,
Is that I’ve been reduced to the ranks.
He found all the lads sympathetic,
They agreed that ’twere a disgrace,
Except one old chap in the corner,
With a nutcracker kind of a face.
Said the old fella, “Who do you think you are?
The last to appear on the scene,
And you start off by wanting promotion,
Last come, last served… see what I mean?”
Said Sam, “Wasn’t I at Corunna,
And when company commander got shot,
Didn’t I lead battalion to victory?”
Said the old fella, “No… you did not.”
“I didn’t?” said Sam quite indignent,
“Why, in every fight Wellington fought,
Wasn’t I at his right hand to guard him?”
Said old chap, “You were nowt of the sort.”
“What do you know of Duke and his battles?”
Said Sam, with a whithering look,
Said the old man, “I ought to know something,
Between you and me… I’m the Duke.”
And if you should look in any evening,
You’ll find them both in the canteen,
Ex Commander-in-Chief and ex Sergeant,
Both just Home Guards… you know what I mean?