Pity poor fighting men

(notes by Philip Holberton)


A heading to “With Number Three” . ORG No 751, Volume 8, page 5385, records the collection of these lines in:

  • An unauthorised booklet published in Santiago.
  • The Sussex Edition Volume 30, page 63, and Volume 34, page 230.
  • The Burwash Edition Volumes 22 and 27.
  • Definitive Verse (under ‘Chapter Headings’ – The Days Work).
  • Inclusive Verse (under ‘Chapter Headings’ – Many Inventions) although does not appear in either volume.
  • Songs from Books p. 138.

These lines are usually not given a title, although there are two, and they are also known by the first line. See the headnote. As “Pity poor fighting men” it was set as a song for a baritone by Martin Shaw in 1919. (Mattinson). These are included in Definitive Verse (p. 571), as ‘collected’.

Notes on the Text

fame never found them their brave deeds were hidden in the dust of battle and never seen. See “Winning the Victoria Cross” (Land and Sea Tales p. 22): ‘Every V.C. I have spoken to has been rather careful to explain that he won his Cross because what he did happened to be done when and where someone could notice it.’

the lazar (usually lazar-house) a hospital.

Sons of the Laurel soldiers seeking fame. The Romans used laurel leaves as crowns of victory.

meed reward, honour.


©Philip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved