All the poems in this particular selection have a flavour of the Second World War. Preparations seem to have started as early as 1922, the year when the eccentric and beloved caretaker, universally known as “Robert”, retired.
Almost totally deaf and a great favourite of the boys, Robert would have his own poems printed and then distributed around the school. Unfortunately, only one of them appears to have survived. On this occasion, he celebrates the school’s Cadet Corps, preparing slowly but surely for the next world war:
“If you look through them gates
You’ll see Captain Yates
A-drilling of boys by the score.
So come on, my lads
Get leave of your dads
And join the High School Corps.”
And here is the High School Corps:
The next poem appeared in December 1943. It celebrates the Home Guard, the amateur soldiers, either too young or too old for the real army, who were tasked with defeating the invading Germans. It was written by Timothy John Norfolk DEAVILLE (aged 9) who was the son of the Reverend R Deaville, the vicar of St Andrew’s on nearby Mapperley Road:
The Home Guard
“Daddy’s in the Home Guard,
He’s helping win the war.
He’s donned a khaki uniform
Just as he did before.
He hasn’t won a medal yet,
He hopes he will do soon.
He’s only been a sergeant
This very afternoon.
His comp’ny’s got a kitten,
He helps to feed it now.
It claws him every morning
And makes him call out, “Ow!”
I’m glad he’s got promotion,
He has more leisure hours.
Commander says he’s clever
(He’s quite a friend of ours).
He hasn’t shot a German yet,
He wants to get a chance.
If “Jerry” tries his funny tricks
He’ll lead them quite a dance.”
Can you spot TV’s Mr Brown in this photograph of an unknown Home Guard unit?
If you remember the song, Mr Brown goes off to town on the 8.21. But he comes home each evening and he’s ready with his gun :
This next poem appeared in April 1945, and it was written by David Brian Bowler of the Science Sixth. It has a bit of a laugh at the various amateur organisations set up by the school to push the Huns straight back into the sea. “J.T.C.” is the Junior Training Corps, L.D.V. stood for the Local Defence Volunteers (or as they were usually called, “Look, duck and vanish”) and the H.G. is the Home Guard.
I don’t know what happened to young David, but I did find two companies where a “David Brian Bowler” is named as a director, shareholder or secretary. They were “Acem Geotechniques Limited” and “Bowler Geotechnical Pty Ltd”, both of them operating in Queensland and Papua & New Guinea.
The poem is called:
“In the grim days they feared the Hun
Would come by air or sea;
At the first observation point
They posted the J.T.C.
Through the chill nights with unknown sounds
Of foes they could not see
They waited, hoping for the chance
To give them ‘ell D.V.
And from those hearty pioneers
By way of L.D.V.,
With drill and guards and tireless work
Came the High School H.G.
First to stand up, last to stand down,
Wherever you may be,
Salute to you, the best of luck,
And thanks to the School H.G.”
Here’s the final parade of the nation’s various Home Guard units, before they were stood down for ever on December 3rd 1944 before being completely disbanded on December 31st 1945.
In December 1940, the Nottinghamian contained a poem entitled
“ODE TO ELSTON (ACCOMPANIED BY WOODPIGEON)”
The title referred to the many boys who took part in a scheme organised by Mr Palmer and Mr Beeby, whereby Sixth Formers went off to work at three different agricultural locations, for the most part helping to get the harvest in. One farm was at Elston, a small village south west of Newark-on-Trent, another was at Car Colston north east of Bingham and the third was at Honey Lane Farm at Farndon which is also near Newark-on-Trent. On other occasions, boys went to a farm camp at Dowsby, just the far side of Grantham. Ooooh aargh:
“ODE TO ELSTON (ACCOMPANIED BY WOODPIGEON)”
‘S nice to be in the country
When summer suns are glowing ;
‘S nice to milk the brown cows—
Cycle out to farmyard
Six o’clock in morning ;
Sweat and sweat and drink tea—
‘S nice to ‘staak’ the barley,
‘S nice to pick the oats,
‘S nice to staak the wheat,
‘S nice !
‘S nice to load the ‘cow-muck’ ?
‘S nice to pump the water ?
‘S nice to be in country
But it’s nicer to be in town !
The poem was written by Philip Blackburn of 6 Classics. He left the school in 1941 with a Studentship for Classics at University College, Nottingham, and a Nottingham Co-operative Society Scholarship of £25 per annum.