It’s surprising what you find when searching the Regimental Journals. With an upcoming new exhibition, Deputy Curator Susannah, has been researching Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, when she stumbled across this letter and poem in the 1916 Regimental Journal. A fitting tribute to all ‘our boys’ and high praise from Conan Doyle.
Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex.
May I congratulate you and the author, on the verses “The Regiments of the Line”. It seems to me to be one of the best poems produced by the war.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE. October 7th.
THE REGIMENTS OF THE LINE
Oh, Anzacs, Canadians, oh, Highlanders and Guards,
Your names are gilded gloriously, and sung by many bards.
But we know, and you know, of other men as fine,
The good old County Regiments—the Regiments of the Line.
For them no vivid writer lets loose his fluent pen.
For them no correspondent tells where, and how, and when.
Of their glory, in story, they write the tale anew,
The old County Regiments—that fight along with you
The Hampshires, the Lancs, the Warwicks, and the Buffs,
The Devons, the Gloucesters, oh, the gold stripe on their cuffs.
They show it, you know it, they’ve marked and fought like hell,
Those old County Regiments—and dozens more as well.
The West Kents, the Yorkshires, the Somersets are fine;
But of their fights through days and nights we seldom read a line.
The Surreys, the Essex, the Norfolks, too, can fight.
Oh, let them have a little of the glory that’s their right.
They may not care about it, those fine old fighting corps.
“Foot-slogging” and fighting—that’s what they ‘listed for.
It’s the “luck of the Service,” and you won’t hear them repine,
The solid, stolid Regiments—the Regiments of the Line.
They’ve no one to boom them; they do not advertise;
Just in Battalion Orders their hidden glory lies.
They have no Agent-General to “star” them in the Press.
But ask the foe, the Germans know, and we—well, we can guess.
The men who fought at Blenheim, who won at Waterloo,
At Inkerman and Minden, and Torres Vedras, too.
At Paardeburg and Delhi, Crecy, Khartoum, Assaye—
Though no one knows, I don’t suppose they’re different to-day.
In lofty, dim cathedrals their battle-standards blaze,
Enscrolled in gold with fights of old—and after many days
They shall return and claim them; and newer names shall shine
As proudly on the Colours of the Regiments of the Line.
Drink to the gallant Anzacs, drink to the “Kilties” too.
They’re bonny, bonny fighters—we know them—and it’s true.
Toast them, and all their valour, and then I’ll give you mine,
“The old County Regiments—the Regiments of the Line”.