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WAR CIRCUS: POETRY

Dick Bratby ” Dick Sandow” was an acrobat at the beginning of the war with the Zola Brothers. They quickly joined up. Dick sent this embroidered post card from France to Carrie Fossett c.1916. They married during the war. Dick was injured, and survived to return to the circus. © Tom Sandow their Son. (Thanks). 

War time must be a heightened time of emotion: all the loves, losses, patriotism, hopes and fears. Here are a few poems and songs transposed from newspapers found in Tyne and Wear Archives, Fenwick Collection; The World’s Fair, the Showland newspaper held on microfiles at the National Fairground and Circus Archive, University of Sheffield. And from (Ref: O M) Jewish Identities in German Popular Entertainment 1890-1933. By Marline Otte. University of Chicago Press. 2009.

 

SHOWLAND’S SONS.

 

We’re proud of the lads from Showland;

   You don’t know how one feels

To think of the loved ones who have gone to the Front;

   From the dear old “world on wheels.”

 

And while the boys are absent,

   Their kith and kin try hard

To keep the old flag flying

   For the “tober” that’s never barred.

 

They’ve known how hard it’s been at times

   To keep the wolf from the door,

And they’ll try their best, we know, to keep

   The enemy from our shore.

 

The Circus Ring, the shooter, too,

   Have helped to swell the ranks;

And we wish them luck and a safe return

   To receive a nation’s thanks.

 

They’ve had their share of trenching

   Through the Fairground’s sea of mud,

And always come up smiling

   When business had been good.

 

So through the long dark winter nights,

   When you around the coke fire sit,

Let’s try to help as suits our purse,

   And give our little bit.

 

The Fairground has done handsomely,

   Grist to the mill to bring,

And those who are left behind at home

   Will loyally serve the king.

 

And Give once more a helping hand

   In Charity’s fair game,

For Showland’ rough but honest heart

   Can always “Play the Game.”

FRED BIBBY

 

Fenwick Collection  – Tyne & Wear Archives

 

 

A LINE FROM THE PLAINS.

 

The Showmen’s boys are up and doing

   All of them are out for blood:

And they fight for King and Country,

   Shovelling up the Tidworth mud.

 

Poets say the paths of glory,

   Lead but only to the grave,

They never said t’would be so muddy,

   Naught but stilts our lives can save.

 

If we’re sick and bones all aching,

“Number nine pills” will make us well.

If you’re crummy, you shouldn’t worry,

   Trust in God and scratch like (hell)

———

 

If from out this mud we’re rescued,

   And they send us to the front,

We will fight for England’s glory,

   Shrapnel will not make us shunt.

 

Now even should our aim be faulty,

   But true enough t’will be I guess,

Thank God we have another weapon

   We will kill them with “B.S.”

 

And when the cruel war is o’er,

   For, of course, we’ll see things    

   through,

They’ll be proud of us in Showland,

   George Lynch “The drinks on you.”

                           

BY PTE. T. DARLOW.

Transport Section,

              Lucknow Barracks,

                            Tidworth.

12/6/1915 The World Fair

 

 

A CIRCUS SONG.

 

BY “EFF TEE.”

 

(Tune: “Yankee Doodle.”)

Sir Harry Bailey’s on the road,

   He’s on his way to Gorton,

So on he drew for a day or two,

   On Collins’ fair at Broughton.

When Harry draws in any town,

He makes a gorgeous pa(y)gent,

He always makes his route himself,

   He don’t need any agent

       Harry sings this little song,

       Harry sings it gaily

       There ain’t an agent on the road

       Like good old Harry Bailey.

 

When Harry draws into a town,

   They move along so gaily,

The leader of the famous band,

   Is know as Harry Bailey,

When Harry aint a horse astride,

   Upon his feet he’ll stump it,

Sometimes he’ll beat the big brass drum,

   Sometimes he blows a trumpet,

      Harry Bailey sings this song,

       Harry sings it gaily,

       No one blows his trumpet like,

       The modest Harry Bailey.

 

Harry’s tent is broad and long,

   ’Twill hold ten thousand people,

His centre pole a ten horse load,

   ’Tis tall as any steeple.

Harry’s staff work very hard,

   There’s none that can work faster,

Their life one long sweet holiday,

   With Harry as tentmaster.

         Harry Bailey sings this song,

         As the king pole goes up gaily,

         Harry rules a thousand men,

         Good luck to Harry Bailey.

 

Harry owns a piebald stud,

   In number not quite fifty,

When Harry buys a team or two,

   He’s neither mean nor thrifty,

When Harry moves along the road,

   He’s neither sloth nor snail; he

Gets away at break of day,

   An early bird is Bailey.

         Harry Bailey sings this song,

         At four each morning daily,

         The first one out upon the show,

         Is good old Harry Bailey.

 

When Harry’s show is on the road,

   Two miles long it reaches,

With Harry marching on in front,

   In his famous riding breeches,

Harry stops at every pub,

   A foaming pint of ale, he

Pays for every man that’s on the show

   A right good sort is Bailey.

         Harry Bailey sings this song

         As he tips his pint so gaily,

         Here’s luck to all my merry men,

         And likewise Harry Bailey,

 

George Proctor owns a famous show,

   But not like Harry Bailey’s,

There breathes a whisper o’er the ground,

   And this is what the tale is,

When George built up so spick and span,

   His shutters painted yellow,

Harry started his parade,

         And knocked him straight to ‘ellow.

         Harry sings this little song,

         Harry sings it gaily,

         George has gone to get a pint,

         And so has Harry Bailey.

 

We talk about our circuses,

   Our Fossett’s and Ginnett’s,

Teddy Bostock’s, Sanger’s, too,

   And some that one forgets.

Talk about our comrade Pat’s

   All good to gaze upon

Bailey’s is the best of all,

   So says Pat’s brother John

         When Harry sings his little song

         We’ll sing together gaily

         The finest showman in the land,

         Is wealthy Harry Bailey.

 

Harry’s start upon the road,

   Makes his rivals jealous,

Cannot stand alongside him,

   And so the showman tell us,

To Halstead they will wire away,

   To buy their little circus,

Harry’s packed ‘em right away,

   To their respective work’us.

         When Harry sings his little song,

         All sing the chorus gaily,

         The only showman now on earth,

         Is handsome Harry Bailey.

 

17/7/1915 The World’s Fair

Note: In Verse 7, lines 10 and 11, we have made a best guess as text difficult to decipher.

  

SOLDIER CLOWN’S VARIED EXPERIENCE.

   Drummer Johnnie Quinn, has just got back to Blighty after over two years in the Army. He enlisted on August 8th, 1914, and was at the landing in the Dardanelles, and had eighteen months out there.

Previous to joining the Army, Drummer Quinn was principal clown for some of the leading circuses touring Ireland, including Lloyd’s,   Hanneford’s, Buff Bill’s and Duffy’s, and has occupied that position over 20 years. He is in command of the Pipe Band and would be pleased to hear from old friends. His address is No. 694, Drummer J. Quinn, Royal Munster Fusiliers, Irish Command Depot, Tipperary. He sends us the following lines:—

 

As I read the good old paper

   That’s read in every traveller’s home.

A verse is wanted for our Tommy,

   Fighting far across the foam,

Though his people may be busy,

   In the Hall or Christmas Fair.

Still their thoughts are with you,

   Tommy,

Fighting in the trenches there.

 

How they miss you from the wagon

   From the emma and the sheet,

From the switchback and the jumpers,

   From the cine there complete.

From the roll-up and the kick-in,

   From the shooter and the swings

From the stage and good old circus

   From the traps and flying rings.

 

But they have gone to do their duty

   Showmen, every inch, are they.

When we’ll meet them, how we’ll greet them,

   With a cheer “hip-hip-hooray”

…(?)…

6/1/1917 The World’s Fair

 

Poem by Gustav Hochsetter. 

THE WAR TO END ALL LAUGHTER.

 

Variety and World War

Some say: the world war

Is in fact a money war

Where richer people

In the end

Will hold victory in their hands.

This theory must be rejected.

The world war is a war of nerves.

Victory will fall to those who have the better nerves.

And what strengthens our nerves?

Serenity,

Distinction, and

Everything that gives us pleasure.

The variety theatre,

Without a doubt,

is nerve-strengthening.

Therefore we welcome it

To see the German country

hale and hearty

At home

and at the front

the variety theatre helps victory!

 

Published first in October 1918, in Das Organ Dee Varietweld, and Bibliog. Ref: O M

 

 

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