This was written after the South Africans held their position at Deville Woods on the Western Front at a loss of 2536 of their men in WWI.
This poem written by 2nd Lt. Thomas A. Clark Snr which typifies the South African soldier at the time.
This poem written by 2nd Lt. Thomas A. Clark Snr.
The New Zealanders’ Farewell to The South Africans.
Tis to bid farewell to you, Springbok boys,
That we gather here to-night,
For we leave you soon in the homes you
left to join the Empire’s fight.
You did your share in German West when
the Kaiser cast the die,
And we are sorry now to leave you, but war
is all “goodbye”
And we envy those rows of ribbons that
some of your veterans wear,
and their faces brown from the lands they’ve
seen and their smile so devil-may-care.
We met you first twelve months ago when we
chased the Sennussi gang.
And you proved you were true Colonials then,
and your name thro the Empire rang.
Then with us again you came to France, and
were put to the shell-fire test,
and the word went round, “Springboks on our left”
And old Fritz got no rest,
for you worried the Huns the whole day long,
you strafed him day and night,
and the Crown Prince found to his Army’s cost
that the Springbok boys could fight.
And you did the job at Delville Wood, and
you made it a living hell:
Twas the first tough job you were sent to do,
and you did it, and did it well,
with a Glorious rush that frightened Fritz,
you were one of the Germans ten
and when Fritz attacked you drove him off
with a handful of your men,
and you beat us once in the Rugby field
tho’ we thought we knew the game,
but you showed us you could play it too,
and played it like gentleman.
But when sports meet sports in the playing field,
defeat is no disgrace,
and the Springbok now with the Fern Leaf
on the Black Flag take it’s place,
then here’s good luck to your fighting men,
for we know you will see it through,
when the bloody sword shall clash no more
We’ll play rugby again with you.
But we hope this peace will do away
with all War and War’s alarms
but if the Empire calls may our children meet
and like us the brother in arms.