“Campo 59,” from Robert Dickinson’s diary, “Servigliano Calling,” is one of three poems by Robert’s friend Denis Crooks.
A glorious life is a prisoner’s life,
No better could you find.
Our battles done, no bitter strife,
Just ease and piece of mind
Our fags are issued every week,
Our parcels too from Rome.
Across the skies Red Cross planes streak,
To bring our mail from home.
No cares have we, with food and sleep
Our days and weeks abound.
But let me give you just a peep,
Into our daily round.
At seven the coffee, half mug full,
Is brought round to our beds.
And having drunk, we once more pull,
The blankets o’er our heads.
And there in peaceful bliss we rest,
Until the hour of nine.
When section sergeant as a jest,
Comes calling “rise and shine”.
At sound of Iti’s bugle call,
On check parade we go.
They come and count their P.G.’s all,
Within their Campio.
Next comes the “pané”, jam and cheese,
And of’t an orange too.
Then dinner, always thick with peas,
A most delicious stew!
The afternoon of course is spent,
In slumber and repose.
Until at five the air is rent—,
“Grub up!”—we’re on our toes.
Thick soup, a cut straight off the joint,
Such is our rich repast.
Yes, you may scornful finger point,
Try it—twill be your last!
And so to bed; but ere we sleep,
Some supper we must eat.
Our chocolate spread on bread we heap,
Or jam, or potted meat.
Our parcels packed away, we slide,
Beneath the sheets once more.
And borne on by the dreamy tide,
Visit old England’s shore.
When war is done, though peace is fine,
Our saddened hearts will burn.
When we leave Campo fifty-nine,
And to our homes return.
Should anyone who reads this though,
Believe my little rhyme.
It’s all just rot, it isn’t true,
It’s just to pass the time.
Note: The line “They come and count their P.G.’s all” refers to counting of the prigionieri di guerra (prisoners of war).