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World War One

One hundred years on, we are all connected to the First World War, either through our own family history, the heritage of our local communities or because of its long-term impact on society and the world we live in today.

From 2014 to 2018, across the world, nations, communities and individuals of all ages will come together to mark, commemorate and remember the lives of those who lived, fought and died in the First World War.


Eight books containing the signatures of thousands of soldiers who passed through Folkestone to go to fight in World War One will be going on public display. There are over 42,000 names of soldiers, nurses and others who passed through the town and signed the visitors books.
Two of the signatories are Winston Churchill and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The books are due to go online in January 2014. The books were kept in the harbour canteen where troops would drink their last 'cuppa' before boarding the troop ships for France.

Hopefully we will be able to to view the signatures of our grandparents and great grandparents.

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England...... Rupert Brooke 1914

Link to a comprehensive site on World War One to view

Some war memorials in villages around France

Some war memorials in villages around France

Somme Brooch

Somme Brooch

'Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it' George Bernard Shaw


This mini plaque displayed below measuring 6" across was found under the floorboards of Ian & Thalia's attic above their garage in Pembroke. We have traced it to Morgan Price who died in action
on 25 Sep 1915
Enlistment Location: Ferndale. Rank: L/Corporal
Regiment: Royal Welsh Fusiliers Battalion: 9th Battalion.
Their house was built by the Bush Estate so he must have been a tenant
and worker on the estate for the Meyrick family and probably worked in the
forge, carriage house, or stables which is now their garage.

Memorial Plaque
The 120 millimetre, bronze Memorial Plaque was awarded to the next-of-kin of those who lost their lives whilst on active service during World War One. The inscription around the edge reads "He (or she) died for freedom and Honour". When commemorating the death of a lady (for example a nurse), the "He" is replaced by "She". Over 1 million "He" plaques were issued compared to approximately 600 "She" plaques.

Memorial Scroll
The Memorial Plaque was accompanied by a memorial scroll. At the top of the scroll was the emblem of King George V, followed by this text:

He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among the those who at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten".

The details of the deceased service person are then shown in red ink.

Please contact this site if Morgan was part of your family so we can return the plaque
to its rightful home
Unfortunately we do not have the scroll


Did you know the average British soldier in the trenches had 20 lice crawling over his body.
the record is 10,428

Soldiers could be heard 'chatting' to pass the quiet times, 'chatting' meant getting rid
of the lice from the seams of their tunics

Was Harry Bird a Conscientious Objector?

Was Harry Bird a Conscientious Objector?
Yes we think he was - even though he told his sons he only had one lung. He changed his name to William Wallace in 1914, left London and started travelling through southern England with his family until he eventually settled in Torquay when in 1923 he reverted back to Harry Bird.

In May 1916 married men were conscripted into the war as there weren't enough volunteers or single men available. By July 30% of men failed to appear, men found in public places were rounded up and 6,000 conscientious objectors were imprisoned

Around 16,000 men were recorded as conscientious objectors, many refusing to fight because of their religious beliefs ( Quakers and Jehovah's Witnesses) or moral ones ( pacifists). After attending a tribunal many finished in a non - combatant role such as stretcher-bearers or medical orderlies. 16 objectors were put in prison and then taken to France to fight. When they refused they were sentenced to death, although this was commuted and they were sentenced to 10 years hard labour, many of these men suffered longterm psychological damage.

215 VBR 215 Vauxhall Bridge Road Westminster
Harry's shop today

Perhaps Harry didn't want this situation?

Perhaps Harry didn't want this situation?
Harry and Gertrude were Theosophists (it is unkown whether Dorothy followed them) When they moved from London they named their first hotel in Torquay 'Adyar' after the international headquaters in Chennai Madras India.

The biggest mystery however is why Harry, Gertrude, Dorothy and the children fled London towards the end of the war, becoming nomads, until they settled in Devon, when apparantly they were leading quite comfortable lives with two businesses and all their family around them in Westminster, there are stories of friction with the Goldsmith brothers - or was it the love triangle ? The most feasible story is that Harry was a conscientious objector he changed his name and left London with the family to avoid a Tribunal. The London Police Gazette published the names of men every week who had failed to join up. By living in a different town every year he didn't stay long enough in any one place to be detected.
The children's birth certificates are proof of this.

Edwin didn't serve in the War. I believe he was in a reserved occupation - believe he taught, though I can't remember what. Maybe woodwork, carpentry?
I get the impression Edwin was slightly more astute with money than Harry - on more than one occasion Edwin had to 'bail out' his brother financially, Mum says. Also she seemed to think Harry might have drunk away some of the profits from the family pub business. Maggie

The Goldsmith Brothers

The Goldsmith Brothers
When Charles Leonard joined up on 10.5.1916 he stated that his occupation was a Dairy Farmer and he was C of E, his wife Rachel was living at 20 Lordship Road Stoke Newington
On 29.7.1918 his medical report showed he was suffering from Malaria, he had been serving in Salonika for 20 months and Constantinople for 6 months. Reason for illness - 'Due to serving in a malaria infected country'. He gave his home address as 40 Ponsonby Place Westminster
He was reviewed on 11.10.1919 in Constantinople and it was noted that he had had 7 relapses the last being in February that year. He was therefore entitled to an Army Pension. On 28.11.1919 he enquired as to whether he could have maintenance for a child.

On the 1911 Census he was a Dairyman registered at 67 Aspenlea Rd fulham

FROM the mid 1800s, the London milk trade has been predominantly operated by the Welsh as they were the few with the knowledge, strength and conviction to earn a living in the city in this difficult field.The milk was collected twice daily by several Welsh girls and taken out into the city streets for sale. The milk was taken in two tin pails carried out on a yoke weighing sometimes up to 130lbs. By 1900, half the dairies in London were Welsh, and in 1950 there were well over 700 Welsh dairies; but modern commercialism has destroyed most of the trade - today there are only a handful of the Welsh dairies left.

Morgan's Dairy began in 1894 and continues today from their original premises in Fulham as one of the few flourishing Welsh independent dairies remaining in London.

Brothers Gareth and Geraint Morgan and their grandson Hywel operate the family business and pride themselves on their quality of service, which still includes doorstep delivery for their Fulham cliental. (Morgan's Dairy, 67 Aspenlea Rd, London W6: 0207 3857715;)



Lawrence volunteered in February 1915 and in the following August was drafted to France, where he was in action at Ypres, Festubert, Loos, St Elot, Albert, Vimy Ridge and the Somme. Later he was transferred to the Italian Front and served with distinction in the campaign against the Austrians. He returned to England and was demobilised in February 1919 holding the 1914-15 Star, General Service and Victory medals.
His address in London : 3 Ponsonby Terrace SW1
Address on sign up 58 Pulford Street Pimlico


Lawrence Conduct Records

Lawrence Conduct Records
Includes: Absence without leave, driving a government motor lorry at an
excessive speed, absent from parade, plus another motoring offence (unreadable) ..


His wife and family are listed as living at 20 Ponsonby Place

Tom Edwin Goldsmith Royal Field Artillery

Tom Edwin Goldsmith Royal Field Artillery

George Lockie 1915

George Lockie 1915

George Lockie (centre)

George Lockie (centre)
GEORGE LOCKIE ( father in law of Charles Leonard Goldsmith)

George was born in Greenlaw Berwickshire in 1865, his first attestation paper gives his occupation as Labourer.
At the age of 18 he travelled to Edinburgh to enlist into the 1st Battalion Scots Guards (3rd May 1883) as 5642 Private George Lockie, he makes Lance Corporal on 29th May 1894, Corporal on 26th September 1894 and finally Sergeant on 23rd January 1898.

He leaves the army shortly after but must have missed the life in a Regiment because he reenlists into 3rd Scots Guards at Chelsea Barracks on 21st May 1900 as 3406 Private George Lockie. His past service must have counted for something as he is promoted to Corporal straight away and then Sergeant a day later on 22nd May 1900, although he must have liked a bit of a drink as he is reduced back to Corporal on 15th June 1903 for drunkenness. His record says he was discharged on reaching the age of 41 on the 20th October 1905.

After leaving the army George is employed by the Central London Railway as a liftman at Tottenham Court Road Station (todays Underground Station). His occupation on the 1911 census shows Liftman and ex soldier.

With the outbreak of war in 1914 I would have thought somebody like George couldn't wait to offer his experience and services to the massively expanding British Army. Now this is the only part of the story I haven't worked out so far... instead of enlisting in London, George turns up at the 10th Battalion South Wales Borderers camp in Colwyn Bay and attests there on 8th February 1915 (Service Number 21340). I can only guess he must have gone to offer his services somewhere in London and was directed to this newly formed Pals Battalion in Colwyn who were short of NCO's. Again due to his previous service he is made a Sergeant immediately and then on 1st March 1915 becomes a Company Sergeant Major. When the existing Regimental Sergeant Major E E Orford is commissioned Lieutenant on 1st June 1915, George becomes Regimental Sergeant Major, the highest ranked NCO in the Battalion.

George and the 10th (as part of the 38th Welsh Division) serve with distinction throughout the War taking part in the Battle for Mametz Wood during the Somme then a year later take part in the Third Battle of Ypres fighting in the Battles of Pilckem Ridge and Langemarck. He is severely wounded towards the end of the War (cant remember off the top of my head on what date) but returns to his post and finishes the War with the 10th.

He was awarded the DCM (1st Jan 1918) for his contribution to the 10th Battalions War effort and also awarded the Italian Bronze Medal (24th May 1917).

After the War he returns to his old post as liftman at Tottenham Court Road (what a difference between this and having 1000 men jumping at his every order). As the 1920's progress George starts to feel the effects of War and is given an easier job as ticket collector on Liverpool St Station, unfortunately at the end of 1925 he is very ill and admitted to Sidcup Military Hospital.
A preliminary X Ray reveals George has a German bullet still embedded in his lung, sadly he is too weak for an operation and passes away on 23rd January 1926.

On 28th January 1926 he is buried at Streatham Park Cemetery, as befits he is given full military Honours and his remains are borne on a Gun Carriage from his residence in Westminster
accompanied by buglers and pipers from Scots Guards.

Gavin Rees

George gives his home address as 69 Ponsonby Place residence of Charles and Clara Goldsmith and family. His daughter Rachel Norah married their son Charles Leonard Goldsmith on 3.2.1913 in Brighton Sussex.


Some images from the Rumsey family ( Norman Bird's wife)

Some images from the Rumsey family ( Norman Bird's wife)

Horace Thomas and Lyonel - Helen's brothers

Horace Thomas and Lyonel - Helen's brothers
Horace joined the Bucks & Oxon light infantry I believe it was called & he served in Italy, he would never talk about the war other than to say it was "terrible for the horses". Like most WW1 servicemen it was just not talked about, they saw things that changed their concept of life completely. Grandson

WRAF Discharge 1919 - Sabine - Helen's sister

 WRAF Discharge 1919 - Sabine - Helen's sister


Santino Vertuani (Carrera) Bersaglieri

Santino Vertuani (Carrera) Bersaglieri
Two Carrera uncles were in the Bersaglieri

The Bersaglieri are a corps of the Italian Army originally created by General Alessandro La Marmora in 1836 to serve in the Piedmontese Army, later to become the Royal Italian Army. They have always been a high-mobility infantry unit, and can still be recognized by the distinctive wide brimmed hat that they wear (only in dress uniform in modern times), decorated with black capercaillie feathers. The feathers are usually applied to their combat helmets.

During World War I, the 12 regiments of Bersaglieri fought with distinction. Of the 210,000 members of Bersaglieri regiments, 32,000 were killed and 50,000 wounded during the war. However, Italy's last World War I veteran, Delfino Borroni, served in the 6th Bersaglieri Bologna

See Italian mementos click for section

Joseph Gill 1890 - 1972

Joseph Gill 1890 - 1972

I vow to thee, my country - all earthly things above -
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love,
The love that asks no questions: the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the alter, the dearest and the best:
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there's another country, I've heard of long ago -
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know -
We may not count her armies: we may not see her King -
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering -
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

CECIL SPRING-RICE 1918 ( a month before his death)
This decade was dominated by the First World War. War broke out in 1914 and lasted for 4 years, much longer than anticipated. It brought Londoners their first ever experience of aerial bombing, identity cards and government regulations on food and drink. It halted new building projects but proved a catalyst of social change, particularly by bringing women more fully into the workforce.

Our Bird and Goldsmith families lived in Westminster

See Janice & Thalia's history walks around Westminster click to view section


Harry Bird must have been doing rather well, he was able to support two women (who didn't work) and five children by 1918 . He had a Bakers Confectioners shop in Vauxhall Bridge Road and a Newsagents in Paddington. everyone was hungry for news. In the 1914 London Telephone Directory the shop was listed as a Tobacconist, Newsagent and Confectioner, tel no: Victoria 4576

" The Bakers will tell you that many of their customers are buying more bread than they did before the the business going on in shops of every is not without significance that pears are displayed in the Walworth Road at 3d a piece and grapes at 5s a pound.... " The Times 5 March 1917

Or perhaps Harry 'pretended' he was helping with the war effort? On his children's birth certificates from 1914 to 1918 he described himself as an
Electrical Engineer - Mechanical Engineer (Munitions) and an Electrician

Yet all the time he was registered as a 'Shopkeeper' at 215 Vauxhall Bridge Road....
He told one of his sons that he could not fight as when he went for his medical it was found that he only had one lung - a genetic problem.

What stories we were told !!

See the family's involvement with Vegetarianism in this section

Percy Edmond Childs

Percy Edmond Childs

Edgar Woodward - Mary Ann Goldsmith's husband

Edgar Woodward - Mary Ann Goldsmith's husband

The Sinking of the Lusitania

On May 1, 1915, the ship departed New York City bound for Liverpool. Unknown to her passengers but probably no secret to the Germans, almost all her hidden cargo consisted of munitions and contraband destined for the British war effort. As the fastest ship afloat, the luxurious liner felt secure in the belief she could easily outdistance any submarine. Nonetheless, the menace of submarine attack reduced her passenger list to only half her capacity.
On May 7, the ship neared the coast of Ireland. At 2:10 in the afternoon a torpedo fired by the German submarine U 20 slammed into her side. A mysterious second explosion ripped the liner apart. Chaos reigned. The ship listed so badly and quickly that lifeboats crashed into passengers crowded on deck, or dumped their loads into the water. Most passengers never had a chance. Within 18 minutes the giant ship slipped beneath the sea. One thousand one hundred nineteen of the 1,924 aboard died. The dead included 114 Americans
The British public were outraged and destroyed and looted German businesses and shops throught the country.
The sinking enraged American public opinion. The political fallout was immediate. President Wilson protested strongly to the Germans. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, a pacifist, resigned. In September, the Germans announced that passenger ships would be sunk only with prior warning and appropriate safeguards for passengers. However, the seeds of American animosity towards Germany were sown. Within two years America declared war.

Fritz Martin Rothermel

Fritz Martin Rothermel
Fritz Martin fought for the British in WW1 - he used the name Frederick. His father was
Johann Georg Michael Rothermel born Würtemberg Germany. The German names must have been very sensitive after the sinking of the Lusitania and it is unknown whether the family's butchers shops were attacked or looted during this period in history.
Fritz and George were both born in the UK and were Britsh Citizens.

Aliases – men appear under the names they enlisted under and were known to the army. Many men signed up under an alias, for various reasons, such as:

Pre-War regulars re-joining the army having previously deserted
Rejected volunteers when volunteering again at a different recruiting centre
Men who wanted not to be traced by family (e.g. parents) or others
Men who simply wanted to leave behind their past and begin anew

George Carl Rothermel also fought in WW1
The only "hard " evidence available are his medals, All is revealed. We had the feeling there was some problem about the name stamped on the medals, and, from memory, we thought that it was the name Rothermel spelt with a double L. But no.

203351 Private G.C. RUTHERMEL (!!!) North Staffs Regiment.

George Carl Rothermel served in WW1 as a stretcher-bearer, and hardly ever talked about his experiences, other than being wounded and having shrapnel embedded in his legs. Ever since we could remember, he had great difficulty walking. By profession, he was a Master-Butcher, and continued part-time for a local butcher, right up to his death
Information from newly found Rothermel Cousins

Gipsy Smith - photo from the George Rothermel collection

Gipsy Smith - photo from the George Rothermel collection
George must have been amongst the men in the trenches...

Gipsy Smith: I have just come back from your boys [the British soldiers fighting the First World War in France]. I have been living among them and talking to them for six months. I have been under shell fire for a month, night and day. I have preached the Gospel within forty yards of the Germans. I have tried to sleep at night in a cellar, and it was so cold that my moustache froze to my blanket and my boots froze to the floor. The meal which comforted me most was a little sour French bread and some Swiss milk and hot water, and a pinch of sugar when I could get it.

There are Y.M.C.A. marquees [big tents] close to the roads down which come the walking wounded from the trenches. In three of these marquees last summer, in three days over ten thousand cases were provided with hot drinks and refreshment - free. And that I call Christian work. You and I have been too much concerned about the preaching and too little about the doing of things.

In one of our huts I saw a lady standing beside two urns - coffee and tea. She was pouring out, and there were 150 or 200 men standing round that hut waiting to get served. The fellows at the end were not pushing and crowding to get first, but waiting their turn. They are more good-natured than a religious crowd waiting to get in to hear a popular preacher. I have seen these people jostle at the doors.

But your boys don't do that. They just sing, "Pack up your troubles," and wait their turn.

See full


Arthur Gardner - Olga Rothermel's husband

Arthur Gardner - Olga Rothermel's husband

Basil Tempest died 25.4.1917

Basil Tempest died 25.4.1917

A crater where an allied mine exploded

A crater where an allied mine exploded
Pictures courtesy of Mike Insall
His grandfather Algernon John Insall and great uncle Gilbert Stuart were heros of the War!!

A link to Mike's WW1 site with some great photos and stories
(our fellow pupil at Knowles Hill School) .......... click to view site

I've done a quick check, and the North Staffs regt were at several places on the Somme, including the village of Pozieres. The village was very much in the front line area, and was the site of a lot of fighting.
There is a cafe in the village called Cafe Tommy, and it's now a sort of shrine to the British soldiers. In the back garden there is a replica of a trench with many items that have been found around the local area. I sent the cafe two large books about WW1 that I had spare copies of.
One of the pictures on your web site came from the book.
Pozieres is also interesting as on another web site, I found a photograph of the place taken by my GF!
I have a number of aerial views of the cafe as well as some on the ground, and can send you some if you want.
Cheers, Mike

Letter to The Times courtesy Mike Insall


Book by Jack Insall published in 1970

Book by Jack Insall published in 1970

Pozieres (Somme) picture taken 1930 by Jack Insall.
The North Staffs regiment were based here

A poppy in the abandoned Rothermel garden Hörlebach Germany

A poppy in the abandoned Rothermel garden Hörlebach Germany

A link to Alan Jennings' great World War One Battlefields site
for a wealth of information facts and images click to view

A link to the Dover War Memorial Project
An interesting site full of pictures and information ... click to view

On the evening of May 21, 1915, Hauptmann Karl Linnarz, a noted Zeppelin commander, carried out the first successful raid on London. He had taken off from an airship base located at Evere just north of Brussels, gained operating altitude over his field, and then allowed a friendly breeze to drift him in silence over the British Capital.
It was the first time in history that this type of warfare on helpless civilians was perpetrated, and there was little to be done about these giant gasbags, since practically nothing had been accomplished toward developing a high-angle anti-aircraft gun, and the existing aeroplanes were not capable of rapid climb. There was no radar, and all the Germans had to do was to take off from their sheds in occupied Belgium, climb to a favourable wind level late in the afternoon, and cut their engines. The wind would carry them in silence over the North Sea, so they generally arrived over Britain in the early darkness. Once they had released their racks of high explosives, they simply soared to a greater height and turned their noses for home.
London was the principal objective of the First World War Zeppelin raids, and between 1915 and 1918 no less than 208 airship sorties were carried out against Britain, a total of 5,907 bombs were dropped, 528 people were killed (mostly civilians), and more than 1,000 were wounded. The peak of the Zeppelin's threat was during 1915 and 1916, for during those two years 168 sorties were carried out against Great Britain, killing 115 people and wounding 324 in London. By the end of 1917 most of them had been withdrawn after the loss of 30 airships in 51 raids. It must have been a very worrying time for Harry, Gertrude, Dorothy and their young family living in the heart of Westminster. We imagine this is why Harry sent the two women and their young children out of the city for Dorothy to give birth first to Pansy in Brighton and then their next son.

See the Harry Gertrude and Dorothy to view

A story Ian's mother told us always had us puzzled until we saw a Zeppilin had bombed a hospital in Lowestoft. She described as a child of a shell she saw go slowly past her bedroom window in Lowestoft Lighthouse and the hospital across the road being destroyed, it was the hospital for wounded soldiers. The Zeppelin made sense ...a shell was nonsense, her sense of size, distance time and speed could have been distorted.

Lowestoft 1925 showing WW1 tank

Lowestoft 1925 showing WW1 tank



Gassed and wounded Eric Kennington

It was during the First World War that Londoners first started using Underground stations as shelters. By the end of the war 4.5 million people had sheltered in Underground stations. Visitors were however, not allowed to take "Birds, Dogs, Cats and other Animals, as well as Mailcarts" into the shelters. The Woolwich, Rotherhithe and Blackwall Tunnels were also used as shelters.
We do know that Lawrence, Gertrude's half brother fought in the war and came through it unscathed. We have no idea whether William ( who would have been 43 ) Charles and Tom were called up, but we do know that they were all alive well after the war. As for Harry's brother Edwin, we have no idea what happened to him as he has not been found on any databases. Some family were told he was Gertrude's husband and had been killed in the war. His son Norman being described as Harry's nephew in his Will, what stories we were told !

link to a great website

Wartime manufacturing

During the First World War, many of the Underground Group's manufacturing plants switched to military production. The AEC workshops were used to make over 10 000 Y-type motor trucks and introduced Britain's earliest moving production line, as used in much of today's manufacturing. A total of 114 000 people worked in the Ministry of Munition's factories all over London.

Although Harry Bird was listed in the London telephone directory as being the proprietor of two shops, both selling newspapers, stationery, tobacco and confectionery/bakery, he listed himself as a 'mechanical engineer (munitions)' on one of his son's birth certificates in 1916, under the pseudomyn of William Wallace, Electrical Engineer and Electrician on a further three certificates (all children born between 1914 and 1918)
Having an illegitimate child during this period in history was deliberately made very painful and humilitating that girls would avoid it at all costs.Young mothers were allowed to stay in a hostel with their babies for a limited time - the last resort was the workhouse which meant being parted from your baby at three months.

We can't alter the past
But we CAN change the future!

As the war dragged on and casualties mounted, increased pressure was put on 'slackers' who had not yet enlisted. Under the motto 'Wake up, London!', columns of soldiers marched through the capital to attract recruits. There were continual rallies in Trafalgar Square. Armbands were issued to men who promised to enlist when called upon. Was this why Harry Bird changed his name? Some women continued to distribute white feathers (a sign of cowardice) to those not in uniform. Britain's first conscription law was passed in January 1916. London's male population was around 3,400,000 in 1914. Nearly two million men were of military age during the war: aged between 15 and 49 in 1914. Just over one million of them (55%) enlisted between 1914 and 1918.
At the end of 1917, people began to fear that London was running out of food. Panic buying led to shortages and food rationing was introduced in January 1918.

Was this why the Bird family moved out of London? Firstly to Pinner in 1914, then to Brighton in 1916 , Southampton in June 1918, then to Bridgewater in 1919 finally settling in Torquay by 1921. One daughter remembered living in a railway carriage on Hayling Island when she was young. In 1918 Dorothy listed herself as living at 16 Osman Street Southsea.
Or was Harry a conscientious objector?

Artificial limb factory

Artificial limb factory



Plane at Imperial War Museum London

Plane at Imperial War Museum London
Photo Janice Carrera taken during a visit with Thalia Campbell

The Great War

It was a great war, The Great War,
The greatest war there's ever been
It was 'a war to end all wars'
It didn't, but that's how it seemed.

It was a great war, the Great War
With the bodies and the blood
The shell holes and the hell holes
The trenches and the mud.

It was a great war, the Great War
The last war where no-one dared
To question the orders
No-one knew or no-one cared.

And you stand there with your poppy
as a tribute to the ones
who gave their lives for nothing
for the fathers and the sons
then the next day you go out
and buy your kids toy guns
well go on, and why not
you've got to teach them while they're young.

It was a great war, The Great War,
the greatest war we've ever seen
we killed their side, we killed our side
we killed anybody in between.

It was a great war, The Great War,
the greatest chance we ever got
to die for our country
or if not then to be shot.

And you stand there in your silence
just like we used to do
like you were waiting for their whistle
for their orders to come through
can't you see you're still doing
just what they tell you to
remember what they did to us
they could do to you.

It was a great war, The Great War,
but you led us up the garden path
and still you lead us every year
up to the cenotaph.

And you stand there, politicians,
wiping tears from your eyes
with the hands that shake the hands
of the dictators you supply
well I cannot see the honour
nor the glory, nor the pride
and I will not wear your poppy
and I will not stand silent by.

Philip Jeays