War, the Liberator, and Other Pieces/Ode to a French Regiment

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On finding they had left behind more Stores than we had bargained for

DEAR Allies, whom we were relieving,
When we came to the line from our rest,
We came to you fondly believing
You would take us and give us your best.
You gave us your wine in full measure,
Your rum and your coffee was nice,
And as an additional pleasure
You left us your lice.

Oh, lice full of vigour and beauty,
That rove where the rich blood was spilt,
Do you really believe it your duty
To make your abode in my kilt?
Do you honestly think my suspenders
A fit place to take your repose,
And prey on your country’s defenders
Instead of her foes?

Are you really French vermin, I wonder,
Or when the new trenches were won
Did they count in the tale of their plunder
The fleas and the lice of the Hun?
Do no thoughts of my vengeance appal you
When at night to the battle you rise,
Are you patriots, or shall I call you
Mere traitors and spies?

Nay, then I shall slay you, preferring
To think you the breed of the Bosche,
Who leap from your trenches preparing
To feed on the vitals of Tosh.[1]
When the iron of the tailor is singeing
The pleats of the kilt that was mine,
I like to think you will die singing
The Watch on the Rhine.


  1. Name by which I was known in the battalion.