This poem by H. Stewart is a rousing defense of the reputation of the British Army’s Seventh Armoured Division. The division was known as the “Desert Rats” and its mascot—a red jerboa—is displayed on its insignia.
“The ‘Seventh Armoured Div’” is one of three poems by Harry Stewart in Robert Dickinson’s journal, “Servigliano Calling.”
The “Seventh Armoured Div”
I once wrote a poem, which brought forth comments,
From different fellows in tank regiments,
Who said I was sadly deficient of sense,
Just because I stood up and put it to you,
That the Seventh Armoured Div. was out on the blue.
And one fellow, quite heated became,
And said ’cos you’re captured, you’ve no cause to blame,
This famous old Div., and subtly its name,
In vain I protested that all of us knew,
That the Seventh Armoured Div. was out of on the blue.
He said he was joy-making back at the base,
Persuaded a second we were holding this place,
Whilst we were retreating six different ways!
“You Machilé yes-men”, he said, “couldn’t do
Half that the Seventh Armoured Div. did out on the blue.”
He said “To point out the fact that he’s here,
Showed the Seventh’s life ain’t all skittles and beer”;
But he left his Mark 2 back at Agadabia!
The fact that he’s here is quite clearly true,
But the rest of the Div.’s still out on the blue.
However, we’re hearing queer stories again,
About loosing our tanks, and generals, and men,
But all good “prigioniere” are sifting the “gen”,
And if all the rumours are true—good enough,
At last the Seventh Armoured Div. is doing its stuff!
Note: The phase “all good ‘prigioniere’ are sifting the ‘gen'” seems to mean that the attentive prisoners are weighing incoming information about the war.