First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Sergeant-Major Money

SERGEANT-MAJOR MONEY by ROBERT GRAVES (1917)

It wasn't our battalion, but we lay alongside it, So the story is as true as the telling is frank. They hadn't one Line-officer left, after Arras, Except a batty major and the Colonel, who drank.

'B' Company Commander was fresh from the Depôt, An expert on gas drill, otherwise a dud; So Sergeant-Major Money carried on, as instructed, And that's where the swaddies began to sweat blood.

His Old Army humour was so well-spiced and hearty That one poor sod shot himself, and one lost his wits; But discipline's maintained, and back in rest-billets The Colonel congratulates 'B' Company on their kits.

The subalterns went easy, as was only natural With a terror like Money driving the machine, Till finally two Welshmen, butties from the Rhondda, Bayoneted their bugbear in a field-canteen.

Well, we couldn't blame the officers, they relied on Money; We couldn't blame the pitboys, their courage was grand; Or, least of all, blame Money, an old stiff surviving In a New (bloody) Army he couldn't understand.

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