World War One Tea Poem

I teach several online classes about England during both World War I and II. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of research that has been involved in developing these classes. I have accumulated a HUGE library of books (don’t you just love Amazon) plus numerous binders overflowing with information that I have downloaded. Currently, I’m in the process of creating a new course for the fall, so I’m revisiting my all- ready existing research and I came across this poem, in a section I’ve labeled” Britain’s Secret Weapon – The Importance of Tea in Wartime England During World War I and II .

You make it in your mess-tin by the brazier’s rosy gleam;
You watch it cloud, then settle amber clear;
You lift it with your bay’nit, and you sniff the fragrant steam;
The very breath of it is ripe with cheer.
You’re awful cold and dirty, and a-cursin’ of your lot;
You scoff the blushin’ ‘alf of it, so rich and rippin’ ‘ot;
It bucks you up like anythink, just seems to touch the spot:
God bless the man that first discovered Tea!

Since I came out to fight in France, which ain’t the other day,
I think I’ve drunk enough to float a barge;
All kinds of fancy foreign dope, from caffy and doo lay,
To rum they serves you out before a charge.
In back rooms of estaminays I’ve gurgled pints of cham;
I’ve swilled down mugs of cider till I’ve felt a bloomin’ dam;
But ‘struth! they all ain’t in it with the vintage of Assam:
God bless the man that first invented Tea!

think them lazy lumps o’ gods wot kips on asphodel
Swigs nectar that’s a flavour of Oolong;
I only wish them sons o’ guns a-grillin’ down in ‘ell
Could ‘ave their daily ration of Suchong.
Hurrah! I’m off to battle, which is ‘ell and ‘eaven too;
And if I don’t give some poor bloke a sexton’s job to do,
To-night, by Fritz’s campfire, won’t I ‘ave a gorgeous brew
(For fightin’ mustn’t interfere with Tea).
To-night we’ll all be tellin’ of the Boches that we slew,
As we drink the giddy victory in Tea.

Robert William Service

(All shown as the poem was actually written)


  1. Wow, what a find. Kipling must be jealous. Did you see the movie “They Shall Not Grow Old”? Amazing restored WW1 footage from the Brits.


    • Thanks for reading and for your comment! No, I didn’t see that one – I’ll have to see where I can find it. I just got two new books about the Home Front in England during the War to continue my research and they are both over 200 pages!


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