Ballad of Army Pay

Frederick William (FW) Harvey 1888 (Hartpury, Gloucestershire) – 1957 (Yorkley, Gloucestershire)

In general, if you want a man to do a dangerous

job : —
Say, swim the Channel, climb St. Paul's, or break

into and rob
The Bank of England, why, you find his wages

must be higher
Than if you merely wanted him to Fight the kitchen

fire.
But in the British Army, it's just the other

way.
And the maximum of danger means the minimum

of pay.

You put some men inside a trench, and call them

infantrie,
And make them face ten kinds of hell, and face it

cheerfully ;
And hve in holes Uke rats, with other rats, and

hce, and toads,
And in their leisure time, assist the R.E.'s with

their loads.
Then, when they've done it all, you give 'em each

a bob a day !
For the maximum of danger means the minimum

of pay.

40

We won't run down the A.S.C., nor yet the

R.T.O.
They ration and direct us on the way we've got

to go.
They're very useful people, and it's pretty plain

to see
We couldn't do without 'em, nor yet the

A.P.C.
But comparing risks and wages, — I think they all

will say
That the maximum of danger means the minimum

of pay.

There are men who make munitions — and seventy
bob a week ;

They never see a lousy trench nor hear a big shell
shriek ;

And others sing about the war at high-class music-
halls

Getting heaps and heaps of money and encores
from the stalls.

They ' keep the home fires burning ' and bright
by night and day.

While the maximum of danger means the minimum
of pay.

I wonder if it's harder to make big shells at a

bench,
Than to face the screaming beggars when they're

crumping up a trench ;

41

I wonder if it's harder to sing in mellow tones

Of danger, than to face it — say, in a wood like
Trone's ; *

Is discipline skilled labour, or something children
play ?

Should the maximum of danger mean the mini-
mum of pay ?

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Frederick William (FW) Harvey

Frederick William Harvey DCM, often known as Will Harvey, and dubbed "the Laureate of Gloucestershire", was an English poet, broadcaster and solicitor whose poetry became popular during and after World War I. Harvey was born in 1888 in Hartpury, Gloucestershire, and grew up in Minsterworth. He was educated at the King's School, Gloucester, where he formed a close friendship with Ivor Gurney, and then at Rossall School. Gurney and Herbert Howells, another local composer, would set a number of his poems to music. He started on a legal career, which would always be somewhat tentative; and began to consider conversion to Roman Catholicism. more…

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