“On the road from Pop. to Ypres”

Group of war graves. German shells in wicker carriers, a wrecked railway line in the foreground. Transport wagon going towards the line in background. Northern corner of Bernafay Wood. September 1916. IWM image Q4318

“The Ration Carriers” by “DHR”, published in The Wipers Times, or Salient
News, No 1 Volume 1, Saturday 12th February 1916.

A poem to remember if you are thinking about a man who served in a transport unit of the Army Service Corps.

“On the road from Pop. to Boesinghe
and from Boesinghe down to Ypres,
where the pave’s rent with Johnson
and the mud’s just ankle deep
where you daresn’t light a fag up
‘cos the Boche’s eyes are skinned
Ah, that’s the place to be boys,
if you want to raise a wind.

When the road’s all blocked with transport
taking rations to the dump,
and they’re shelling Dawson’s Corner
with shrapnel and with crump,
when the word comes down the column
“A stretcher bearer, quick!”
Then your mouth goes kind of dry, boys
and your stomach’s awful sick.

When you hear a sort of whistle
that swells into a roar,
and yer ducks, yer ducks like Hell, boys!
‘cos you’ve heard that sound before.
There’s a crash that echoes skywards,
and a scream of mortal pain.
Then you curse the blasted Kaiser
and just march on again.

So you chaps back in Blighty
who haven’t got the grit
to go and take the shilling
and to come and do your bit,
just now and then remember
at night time, ‘ere you sleep,
the men who carry rations
on the road from Pop. to Ypres”

Key to terms used:

Pop: Poperinghe, a town a few miles behind the notorious Ypres sector of the front in Flanders;

Boesinghe: a village north of Ypres;

Johnson: a large German shell that exploded with a cloud of black smoke, from Jack Johnson, a well-known black American boxer;

Boche: derogatory French name for Germans;

Crump: a high explosive shell.