The Parting of the Columns
“. . . On the —th instant a mixed detachment of Colonials left——for Cape
Town, there to rejoin their respective homeward-bound contingents, after
fifteen months’ service in the field. They were escorted to the station by
the regular troops in garrison and the bulk of Colonel——’s column, which
has just come in to refit, preparatory to further operations. The leave-taking
was of the most cordial character, the men cheering each other continuously.
—Any Newspaper, during the South African War.
WE’VE rode and fought and ate and drunk as rations (1) come to hand,
Together for a year and more around this stinkin’ land:
Now you are goin’ home again, but we must see it through.
We needn’t tell we liked you well. Good-bye—good luck to you!
You ’ad no special call to come, and so you doubled out,
And learned us how to camp and cook an’ steal a horse and scout.
Whatever game we fancied most, you joyful played it too,
And rather better on the whole. Good-bye—good luck to you!
There isn’t much we ’ave n’t shared, since Kruger cut and run,
The same old work the same old skoff (2) the same old dust and sun;
The same old chance that laid us out, or winked an’ let us through;
The same old Life, the same old Death. Good-bye—good luck to you!
Our blood ’as truly mixed with yours—all down the Red Cross train.
We’ve bit the same thermometer in Bloeming-typhoidtein. (3)
We’ve ’ad the same old temp’rature—the same relapses too,
The same old saw-backed fever-chart. Good-bye—good luck to you!
But ’twasn’t merely this an’ that (which all the world may know),
’Twas how you talked an’ looked at things which made us like you so.
All independent, queer an’ odd, but most amazin’ new,
My word! you shook us up to rights. Good-bye—good luck to you!
Think o’ the stories round the fire, the tales along the trek—
O’ Calgary an’ Wellin’ton, an’ Sydney and Quebec;
Of mine an’ farm, an’ ranch an’ run, an’ moose an’ cariboo,
An’ parrots peckin’ lambs to death! Good-bye—good luck to you!
We’ve seen your ’ome by word o’ mouth, we’ve watched your rivers shine,
We’ve ’eard your bloomin’ forests blow of eucalip’ and pine;
Your young, gay countries north and south, we feel we own ’em too,
For they was made by rank an’ file. Good-bye—good luck to you,
We’ll never read the papers now without inquirin’ first
For word from all those friendly dorps where you was born an’ nursed.
Why, Dawson, Galle, an’ Montreal—Port Darwin—Timaru,
They’re only just across the road! Good-bye—good luck to you!
Good-bye!—So—long! Don’t lose yourselves—nor us, nor all kind friends,
But tell the girls your side the drift we’re comin’—when it ends!
Good-bye, you bloomin’ Atlases! You’ve taught us somethin’ new:
The world’s no bigger than a kraal. Good-bye—good luck to you!
(1) Convoys were not seldom captured by the Boers
(3) There were several thousands of typhoid cases in Bloemfontein. Hence its name among the troops.