Somewhere at the front, somewhere A soldier sits with pad and ink Lampooning all the things that he sees there It might cause a bit of a stink For if the CO learns of it, quicker than a blink He’ll have him cleaning the latrines or even in the clink For it wouldn’t do for Tommy to question or to think Somewhere at the front somewhere
Now Tommy has a lot of gripes So to comment on army life He draws cartoons that take almighty swipes Whilst making fun of all his troubles and his strife He’ll grouse about the billets swarming everywhere with rats But it’s far worse in the trenches where they’re as big as cats They’ll empty out your mess tin then fill up your tin hats Somewhere at the front, somewhere
There are bits of onion floating in your tea To wash down bully beef or plum and apple jam While the generals sit in chateaux sipping brandy To wash down all their lovely eggs and ham Now two teaspoons of rum just doesn’t seem quite fair To give Tommy the courage he needs for trench warfare What can he do but raise a shrug and shout “C’est la Guerre!” Somewhere at the front, somewhere
Exhausted you’re made to stand in line For medical inspections and parades Bellybuttons touching backbones, every one Like skeletons, what specimens we make! The MO walks along the line and grabs you by the balls And squeezes them until you cough, it makes you feel so small We’ll use his balls for marbles so he has no balls at all Somewhere at the front, somewhere
Tommy’s work encapsulates the human spirit Over the cruel inhumanity of war It’s got comedy, cynicism, and satire Parody, anger, wistfulness and more You won’t see it in Punch or hear it proclaimed as art But it speaks for every Tommy whoever played his part In every grim fiasco that tore his life apart Somewhere at the front, somewhere
Commissioned for 'Reflections on War', a community arts project and exhibition at York Art Gallery for York Museums Trust.
Inspired by Somewhere at the Front (Links with the Past) 1916, a notepad filled with cartoon sketches of trench life made during the First World War by A. Richards of the 10th Hussars, from York Museums Trust collections.