This poem, credited to an anonymous author referred to only as One Who Suffers, details time spent at Prees Heath training camp in Shropshire. With a capacity of around 30,000, it was here that soldiers were trained for trench warfare.
Both the 14th and 17th Reserve Battalions of the Cheshire Regiment were stationed at Prees Heath in 1915.
For breakfast every morning it’s like old Mother Hubbard,
You double round the hut three times, and jump right at the cupboard.
Sometimes they give you bacon, but at others they give you cheese,
It forms platoon upon your plate, orders arms, and stands at ease
Week in, week out, from morn till night, with full pack and a rifle,
Like Jack and Jill you climb the hill, of course that’s just a trifle.
Slope arms, fix bayonets, then present, they fairly put you through it,
And as you stagger to your hut, the sergeant shouts “Jump to it.”
With tunics, caps, and puttees off, you quickly get the habit,
You gallop up and down the hill just like a blooming rabbit.
Head backward bent, arms upward stretch, heels raise, then ranks change places,
Later on they will make you put your knee cap where your face is.
This Swedish drill it does you good, but makes your bones so tender,
You can coil yourself up like a snake and crawl beneath the fender.
There’s nothing else but Swedish from 9 o’clock til 7,
And when you die its ten to one it’s all hands down in heaven.
When this war is over, and we have captured Kaiser Billy,
To shoot him would be merciful, but absolutely silly.
Just send him down to Prees Heath, amongst the mud and clay,
And let the dear Crown Prince watch him slowly fade away.
“BY ONE WHO SUFFERS.”