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Wartime Tributes - by RWN

A selction taken from a book of 73 poems that RWN wrote and published
in 1946 in aid of Rushden's War Memorial Appeal.

Home Repairs

Rushden has its share of churches,
Parks and libraries galore,
Clubs and cinemas abounding,
E'en a five and ten cent, store.

Yet the future Rushden-Ferrers,
Town of 20,000 pop.,
Has no hospital to aid us
When we need a minor op.

Way back in the early twenties
Such proposals were laid down,
But the zealous souls behind them
Found no help within the town.

Future burgesses, foregather,
Let your tongues wag to and fro,
Scheme a hospital for Rushden—
We shall find the blinkin' dough.

Cast your mind to Knuston Spinney,
Vision there a building white,
Girt by balconies and sun-traps
Gleaming in the sunshine bright.

From the massive sun-glass windows
Pleasant vistas can be seen,
Lovely gardens, beds of flowers,
Velvet lawns of restful green.

In this veritable Eden
Local folk will convalesce,
"Amputations" find their "sea-legs,"
"Tonsils" breathe without distress.

There "appendixes" and "gastrlcs"
"Hammer-toes" and "housemaid's-knees"
Soon will gain their normal vigour
In the clean Nene Valley breeze.

So, good Rushdenites, remember
That, with generous support,
Such a noble home of healing
On our doorstep CAN be wrought.

Toast to the Firewomen

In days of yore, long years ago
When Grandma was a belle,
Of aeroplanes and stirrup pumps
Of course, she'd ne'er heard tell.
A tiny mouse the vapours would
Give her, we understand;
How would she then have shaped against
The job that's now on hand?

Our womenfolk without a doubt
In contrast sharp appear;
They shoulder with a cheerful calm
The burdens of the year.
Not only have they planned and schemed
In thgir domestic ken,
But with a will and zest assume
Fire service with the men.

With quite efficient promptitude
They reach the practice fire
And throw a most determined jet
With just a trace of ire—
A sort, of "stand-no-nonsense" air
(Which married men know well);
So soon the blaze gives up the ghost
And gets back in its shell.

And so we raise our old tin hats
To toast our womenfolk Who battle,
just to save their homes,
With water, fire and smoke;
Although, maybe, there's just one thing
May stir their calm repose— !
What will they say if they should get
A "ladder" in their hose 2 ?

The Good Ship 'Rushferands'

Joe Large, Rushden's super-sized special,
Lay back in his arm-chair to seek
A little well-earned relaxation
From helping the town's Warship Week.
For Joseph was keen on this effort,
It brought back old times, grave and gay,
When Joe served aboard a destroyer.
(He rated as chief E.R.A.).

But barely had sleep closed his eyelids
When Joseph awoke with a start
To find by his side stood his missus,
Attempting some news to impart.
"You're wanted at once, Joe, on duty,
'Ere y'are, 'ere's yerat an' y' book;
They're launching our warship 'Rushferands'
Down Skinner's 'ill way, on the brook."

Joe wasted no words—at the double
He crossed the Hall fields, where he saw
A crowd round the good ship 'Rushferands'
Piled-up on the steep, muddy shore,
His long-dormant nautical instinct
Aroused, he swung up on the deck:
"Hey, now, you land-lubbers, jump to it;
You'll soon 'ave the old gal a wreck."

Blue cap tilted over one eyebrow,
Joe on the small bridge took his stand;
The ship's personnel quickly begged him
To take over active command.
He nodded a curt acquiescence
(And wished he'd gold rings on his sleeve)
" All ranks get ashore to the starb'd
And then give her aft stays a heave."

So over the taffrail they clambered,
With trousers rolled up to their knees—
The Captain, Commander, and Snotties,
P.O.'s and phlegmatic A.B.s.
Their lower extremities coated
With layers of glutinous slime,
They heaved as they bellowed sea-shanties
(The "scent" from the brook was sublime).

One extra big heave took 'Rushferands'
And lifted her up by the stern,
And soon Joseph heard the propeller
The dank, sluggish stream start to churn.
The crew climbed back over the scuppers
(The deck then resembled a bog),
And Joe told the Stewards to issue
All hands with hot lemonade grog.

Just then, by the prow of the vessel,
A little, blonde WREN, with both hands
Was grasping a tidy-sized bottle
To christen the new 'Rushferands'
She lifted her arm—and the bottle—
The crowd gave a resonant cheer;
The bottle flew wide of the warship
And fetched Joe a sock on the ear.

He woke from his dream of promotion
And medals to garnish his chest
To hear his wife's loud repetition
Of some sort of earnest request:
"Just think when you're next down the Street, Joe"
(As Joe from his slumbers was torn)
"T' tek that ten quid warship money—
We MUST buy the H.M.S. QUORN."

Our Girls

Tis notable, these latter months,
Around our busy town,
The number of our local girls
In service of the Crown.
It seems but little time ago
These lassies were at school,
And now they've lined up with "our boys"
To break up Madolf's rule.

And in due course, when they complete
This very worthy job,
The big proportion will, of course,
Be sent back on demob.
Then, brethren all, you'll find we men
Will all be stricken dumb
As scores of our ex-Service girls
Begin to make things hum.

They'll "put up" for the Council—yes,
And certainly "get in":
Oh gosh! on second Wednesdays won't
There be a verbal din!
For women of our island race
No longer are afraid
To call a shovel by its name
And say a spade's a spade.

And miles of crimson tape they'll cut;
Tell Ministries to scram;
Put down new service mains and solve
The High-street traffic jam.
They'll see that dim-lit roads are not
A menace after dark,
And, to preserve complexions, will
Perhaps de-gnat the park.

The nippers, too, will benefit,
For 'neath their zealous care
The kids will reap advantages
That every child should share.
They know that on the children who
Life's travail now begin
Depends the life of England, which
"Our Girls" have helped to win.

So, Land Girls, ATS and WRENS and WAAFS,
We've other jobs in store
For you to carry on with when
You've done the job of war;
And, ladies, you'll succeed again
In peace-time work ahead,
Because you canter gaily where
Mere man's afraid to tread.

For more rhymes and poems and our tribute to
RWN click on these links
Walls Have Ears

If only walls had speaking tongues
As well as keenly listening ears,
What tales we'd hear in Rushden Hall
Where walls, for seven hundred years,
Have heard in ever-changing tongue
The tale of England's fight for life
'Gainst strong, aggressive power without,
And violent internal strife.

These aged walls would tell us how
In Good Queen Bess's lengthy reign
She saved our England from the wrath
Of Netherlands and mighty Spain;
Of how the Squire of Rushden Hall
Would make the very rafters shake
When cheering at the doughty deeds
Of Walter Raleigh, Frankie Drake.

Again the walls would tell us how
The current Squire would then impart
The thrilling news of Waterloo,
Defeat of "Adolf" Bonaparte;
Of flags that hung throughout the Hall
Upon that ne'er forgotten day
When Nelson and the British tars
Pound victory in Trafalgar Bay.

And in more recent years they heard
Of gallantry at Somme and Mons;
When every Old Contemptible
Well earned that little cross of bronze;
And in the days not long ago,
When gravely England's peril grew,
The breath of freedom was maintained
For many, by the gallant few.

As surely as the days go by
Another tale these walls will hear,
An epic that will span the world
And oust the ghosts of want and fear.
And then the Axis Powers will reap
The harvest they so widely sow,
As Allied Nations blythely march
Through Rome, Berlin and Tokio.

To A/c. Rendered

Bert Bugg, R.A.F. Sargeant-Pilot,
Was out on patrol one fine morn;
His Oxford roared loud 'midst the sunshine
And swift through the ether was borne.
Soon, casting his eyes down below him,
He shouted in accents of joy,
"Well, blimey, if that ain't old Rushden!
Hooray! Tally-ho! Atta-boy!"

He recklessly opened the throttle,
Pushed forward the joy-stick as well,
And down to the peaceful old town like
A hawk from the heavens he fell.
Bert pulled the old 'bus from her dive at
Just two hundred feet by his "clock,"
And then, as he zoomed his port wing scraped
The tail of the church weathercock.

He banked o'er the Hall and then hedge-hopped
The town, scaring folks into fits
Of unparliamentary language
As closely his wings fanned the Ritz.
At length, his exuberance sated,
This bird-boy once more sallied forth
Upon his patrol through the heavens,
And lay a straight course to the North.

But to this sad tale there's a sequel,
So lend me your ears, Comrade Bugg,
For in my backyard, near the hen-run,
Two miniature graves have been dug,
And in them lie two fine Rhode pullets,
The pick of the whole blooming flock,
Who, when you 'nigh perched on the hen-run,
Expired right away from the shock.

And so 'tis but fair I should render
An invoice to cover their cost
(Not counting the hundreds of hen-fruit
Through you irretrievably lost):
"To 2 fine upstanding Rhode Islands
Both killed whilst at work on their job
By S.P. Bert Bugg and his Oxford,
Nett cash in one month—thirty bob."

Rushden Echo and Argus, 9th January, 1942

Service Rendered

When “Taking stock” for 1941,
And totalling our assets for the year
One big, outstanding “credit” meets the eye –
The service of the local volunteer.
It’s safe to say that our beloved town
Would by this time be in a pretty fix
But for the keen, unstinted efforts of
Three thousand zealous folk who work for “nix.”

Think how our Specials labour month by month
Patrolling thirty miles of road and street;
Standing to “last” and “click” throughout the day,
Then to patrol with aching, cornbound feet,
Wardens, again, deserve our grateful thanks,
Always “on tap” whene’er the sirens wail;
Home Guards as well, with undiminished zest,
Train, to defend each homeland hill and dale.

Fire Guards, no longer in their early youth,
Keen A.F.S. men always “standing-by”
Ready to quell the wiles of Fire-bomb Fritz
When there’s a sound of Junkers drawing nigh.
Then, too, the staffs that man the F.A.P.
(Minist’ring angels in their dainty slacks),
And those few girls who work unseen, unsung,
Mending the garments of our youthful “vacs.”

Thus, when the war-time balance-sheet’s complete,
On that glad day when world-wide conflicts cease,
So, with the Forces, will our volunteers
Well earn the longed-for dividends of Peace.
Here’s to the time, in days that lie ahead,
When warplanes, guns and sirens sound no more,
When volunteers will hold re-unions,
Yarning of days of service in the war.


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