From Rudyard Kipling…

I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer, The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”

The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die, I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:

O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”; But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play, The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play, O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be, They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me; They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls, But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”; But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide, The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide, O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap; An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.

Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”

But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll, The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll, O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too, But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you; An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints, Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints; While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”, But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind, There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind, O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:

We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.

Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”

But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot; An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please; An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

Folks, if you are a vet or know one that is having problems, or a family member of a vet having problems, there IS a place to turn…

We are STILL losing about 20 veterans a day to suicide. The time from now to Christmas is the worst time for veterans… Especially those dealing with the issues of coming home and not being able to handle it.

PLEASE reach out! It is important!!!


Tommy… — 18 Comments

  1. Today is RED Friday: If possible, wear something RED, to help Remember Everyone Deployed.
    My beloved first-born son had a really bad day in Afghanistan in 2013, and that resulted in some more really bad days further down the line. His loving and supportive family almost lost him two years ago.

    Love and support are necessary but not sufficient; I didn’t know I was betting my son’s life that they would be.

    He has been TREMENDOUSLY helped by Soz, his support dog. At no cost to him, K9s for Warriors trained him and Soz at their facility in Florida for three weeks.
    Gonna repeat this, copied and pasted from the OP:
    “We are STILL losing about 20 veterans a day to suicide. The time from now to Christmas is the worst time for veterans… Especially those dealing with the issues of coming home and not being able to handle it.

    PLEASE reach out! It is important!!!”

    Peace be on your household.

  2. Oh yes, they love us on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Well, some of ’em. But the rest of the time, well, not so much that I notice.

    Pat P, a heartfelt thank you, to your family, and especially to your son. As an old fart, it is a blessing that younger ones rotate in to replace me and similar-era others, but on the other hand they step into harm’s way to do so.

    If anyone has stats on how the suicides break out I’m interested to know how many Afghanistan returnees’ stats compare to earlier service. It is probably too soon to break it out to just those having served over there but whom we have lost since the abandonment of our friends and indiginous allies. It took me a long time to best deal with some Vietnamese I knew there who dealt with us regularly and were therefore prime targets for the northern hordes when we abandoned them.

  3. Dogs. What a wonderful idea, Pat.
    Twenty years of Veterans, some of which were deployed many, many times.
    What have we done to our kids?

  4. A book worth reading is “Tribe” by Sebastian Junger. He is (or was for some years) a combat journalist.

  5. Kipling is an old favorite of mine and Tommy is on the short list of my favorite poems. Sadly, the poem doesn’t just apply to members of the British Army.

  6. Hey Old NFO;

    Kipling was a genius, and I had that feeling everytime I left post and had to deal with the locals, they had one mission, to separate me from my money by hook or by crook as fast as possible. But let there be war drums, then all of a sudden we were hero’s…..Yeah right… I am cynical. I had bad times after getting out but I married a good women and she pulled me out, but I don’t forget the experiences of “Circling the drain” in the early 90’s after I got out in 1991.

  7. Came home in ’79 to an America I didn’t recognize, and didn’t fit into. My particular saving event was that I’d planned all along to go back & finish college. That experience pulled me out of the black hole I was in, and taught me that I could mentor the kids who were only a few years younger. Then I met my wonderful wife, and she steps in every time I start spiraling downward again.

  8. We are pretty good at preparing our men and women for war, but not so good at putting them back together when they come home. 🙁

  9. Dogs, as mentioned above, are great. Sometimes just having something hold you down until the dark goes away. Been there, done that.

    And, yes, this year is the perfect example of Tommy. From the fark up of the Capital deployment to the pull-out of Afghanistan to the destruction in place of all services, especially pilots and special forces, but also elimination of Marine armor and other stupidity, our serving members and our veterans are getting screwed like it’s back in the bad days of the Vietnam War. Curiously, same flavor of idiots are in charge.

    I haven’t forgotten our veterans and our serving members. I support them as much as possible. And I pray that they all have the strength to survive the coming troubled times.

  10. All- Thanks, and yes, the service dogs (real ones) are a great help. Thanks for mentioning that Pat!

  11. I know I’ll catch hell for this comment, but here goes anyway…

    It would be helpful if all of us old pharts on here would stop hating on the younger generations. (…not in this particular comment thread, but in many others.)

    First off, generations don’t DO anything, it’s only individuals that act. While many of you rage on about the shortcomings of the millennials, you seem to forget that a great number of them have *volunteered* to fight and die for this very country that we all enjoy. Oh sure, not all of them did. But just like you and I of the Vietnam generation, I’m sure they resent it when on the one hand older people chastise their entire generation and lump them in with all of the useless “mom’s basement soy-boys”, and yet on the other hand – a measly two days out of the year – they get thanked and praised for their service. …along with everyone else who ever served. And then, all the rest of the year their service never quite seems to come up to your standards.

    Look familiar?

    It should. It’s been going on for millennia.

    Tommy indeed.

    Remember the sixties and seventies? I served during that time, and *I* certainly remember.

    That’s why I refuse to label an entire generation as shirkers, neer-do-wells, and useless bodies. Oh for certain, there are some like that. Just like the hippies and such from my time were. But most were not, and are not today. I have two nephews who serve in law enforcement. They are both respectable men with families and conservative attitudes. But I couldn’t do their job, even in my youth. Not because I didn’t have the physical capability, but because I don’t have the mental capability. (I would be one of those cops everyone hates and complains about. Bad-mouth me and you go straight to jail.)

    Those that serve today have my utmost respect – especially because of the stupid leadership they have to endure.

    But take note my friends: When our leadership abandoned southeast Asia to the communists, rendering the ultimate sacrifice of over fifty thousand of our brothers-in-arms moot, almost that entire leadership were members of America’s so-called “greatest generation”. Today’s leadership are members of **OUR** generation. If we are to be judged on what a few members of our own generation does, then that doesn’t speak very well for the rest of us, does it.

  12. Thanks to our host for providing the venue for all of these comments.

  13. Sadly Kiplings words, both to ‘Tommy’ and others such as ‘The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon’ are still applicable today, more than a century on.

    • Kipling did not write “today’s” version of “The Wrath…” It is a changed version of what he did write. See Project Gutenberg for the original.