The verse was written as a tribute to a WW1 soldier called Private T Orr, who risked his life saving a wounded comrade, and the cutting was found in the bible of a woman who was related to a WW1 soldier - but she had no known link to Private Orr.
There are a couple of clues as to Orr's identity: he is described as 'a Glo'ster' (soldier of the Gloucestershire Regiment) and appears to have run a shop with his wife in the St Paul's area of Bristol. At the end of the poem is a line that explains that 'the verses were written and sent to Pte T Orr when he was in hospital'.
The poem's author is 'RW French' who, rather wittily, uses his name in a play on words in the last line, saying Orr had been 'mentioned in French's despatches.' (Sir John French was commander of the British Expeditionary Force in Europe from August 1914 until December 1915.)
The verse is transcribed below, do get in touch if you know who Private Orr - or RW French - were.
A St Paul's Hero
Said she, 'You go, I'll mind the shop.
Leave me to tend the 'biz;
You're needed the tyrant's game to stop,
Mid bullets and shells that fiz.'
But who can tell of the parting wrench?
Who count the tears it cost her,
As she thought of her soldier in bullet-drill'd trench,
Her own brave 'Tommy' - the Glo'ster?
The prayer she offered - was it in vain?
Her hubby - God bless him! A hero! -
Played his part as he lay in the cold numbing rain,
When the temperature stood about zero.
He bore with his fellows in the thickest of fight,
A Britisher true to the core!
As we hear of his daring it gives us delight.
We're proud to have known 'Tommy' Orr!
Men of great daring command our attention;
'Tis deeds of the brave that inspire:
Orr, be it known, has gained special mention
For saving a chum under fire!
The deed was full noted by officer, proud
Of his private who faced 'certain grave',
Whose courage by shell fire never was cowed
Who risked all - one wounded to save!
In hospital, kindly, he's now being nursed;
He's far from the battle that galls:
His dreams and thoughts will ever turn first
To his dearest one there in St Paul's.
We're waiting to greet him when homeward he hies:
His shop we will storm it in batches.
Oh! What a joy to e'er patronise
Orr, mentioned in French's despatches!
|'Her own brave 'Tommy!'|