Union Songs

The Sleeper Cutters' Camp

A poem by Dan Sheahan (1917)

- [play]

My sole address at present is a battlefield in France -
If it's ever going to alter there is only just a chance -
To dodge the "Jerry" rifles and the shrapnel flying around -
I've burrowed like a bunny to a funkhole in the ground.
The floor is just a puddle and the roof lets in the damp
I wish I was in Aussie where the Sleeper Cutters camp.

The tea is foul and bitter like an ancient witch's brew -
The bread is sour and scanty and you ought to see the stew -
The "Lootenant" that is leading is a leery kind of coot -
We always call 'im "Mr" so plain "Bill" would never suit.
I'd sell my chance of Heaven for five minutes with the scamp
Where the red bull's chewing nut grass near the Sleeper Cutters' Camp.

If another war is starting I'll hang out with the "jibs"
Not much in being a hero with a bayonet 'tween your ribs -
Hard fighting for the Froggies pushing Huns across the Rhine
They can take Alsace and Flanders and Normandy for mine.
All I'm needing is a pozzie where ground is not too damp
'Neath azure skies of Auzzie - just a Sleeper Cutters' camp.
Here, sitting in a dug-out, with a rifle on my knees -
I fancy I am back there once again among the trees -
With long-lost friends I'm chatting by the camp fire's ruddy glow 
Where we boiled the old black billy in days of long ago...

The signal comes to " Fall-in"
I can  hear the diggers tramp -
Farewell, perhaps forever
To the Sleeper Cutters' camp....


Poem by Dan Sheahan (1917) "Songs of the Cane Fields" - poems of Dan Sheehan. Compiled by Josephine R. Sheehan. Written at Messines, France, and posted to Australia but banned by the military censor.

From the "Trains of Treasure" CD, recited by Denis Kevans

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