“Inside the huts there’s RATS as big as any nanny goat”. The Tank Museum Archive staff have found an amusing postcard, describing training in an infantry regiment at Bovington during the First World War.
Although there was no clue to the author, the archive department believes it came from before Bovington Camp became the home of the Heavy Section of the Royal Armoured Corps. As it mentions the wooden huts, we know that it originated after 1915, as they were built early that year. We can only hope that conditions in the camp are better now!
Read the full poem below:
There’s an isolated, desolated spot I’d like to mention,
Where all you hear is “Stand at Ease,” “Slope Arms,”
“Quick March,” “Attention.”
It’s miles away from anywhere, by Gad, it is a rum ‘un,
A chap lived there for fifty years and never saw a woman,
There are lots of little huts, all dotted here and there,
For those who have to live inside I’ve offered many a prayer.
Inside the huts there’s RATS as big as any nanny goat,
Last night a soldier saw one trying on his overcoat,
It’s sludge up to the eyebrows, you get it in your ears,
But into it you’ve got to go, without a sign of fear.
And when you’ve had a bath of sludge, you just sit and groom,
And get cleaned up for next Parade, or else its “Orderly Room.”
Week in, week out, from morn till night, will full Pack and Rifle,
Like Jack and Jill, you climb the hills, of course that’s just a trifle,
“Slope Arms,” “Fix Bayonets,” then “Present,” they fairly put you through it,
And as you stagger to your Hut, the Sergeant shouts “Jump to it.”
With tunics, boots, and puttees off, you quickly get the habit,
You gallop up and down the hills just like a blooming rabbit:
“Head backward bead,” “Arms upward stretch,” “Heels raise,” then “Ranks change places,”
And later on they make you put your kneecaps where your face is.
Now when this War is over and we’ve captured Kaiser Billy
To Shoot him would be merciful and absolutely silly;
Just send him down to BOVINGTON, there among the Rats and Clay,
And I’ll bet he won’t be long before he drips and fades away.
But we’re not Downhearted yet.