Notes on the Text
(by John McGivering)
| the poem
Their pace and force justify their survival. It may be noted that they sound no aggressive or imperialistic note, contain no swagger or defiance, but appeal to those who stayed at home to do something better than ‘killing Kruger with your mouth.’
All the dames of France are fond and freehorse and foot cavalry and infantry
And Flemish lips are really willing
Very soft the maids of Italy
And Spanish eyes are so thrilling
Still, although I bask beneath their smile,
Their charms will fail to bind me
And my heart falls back to Erin's isle
To the girl I left behind me.
Other ranks (non-officers) needed permission from their commanding officers to marry, and only a certain number were allowed to do so, depending on branch of the service (more cavalrymen than infantrymen) rank, (more non-commissioned officers than privates) and, at different times, other factors, such as possession of good-conduct badges and savings in the army or post office savings bank. Commanding officers did all in their power to discouage marriage by other ranks.See also Myra Trustram Women of the Regiment: Marriage and the Victorian Army (Cambridge University Press, 1984) Chapter 3, “Mrs. Thomas Atkins, the regulations of marriage.”
There are different accounts as to the origin of this name, but Tommy seems to have been born sometime in the early nineteenth century in the 23rd Foot (Royal Welch Fusiliers) though some say it was the 33rd Foot (1st West Riding Regiment), the Duke of Wellington’s old regiment, and that the Duke himself provided the name of an old soldier he had known in the regiment .