Monday, 22 June 2009


Back to Sam Small - here a drummer boy at Waterloo

It seems as though Stanley Holloway with his monologues is getting a bit of a following - very pleased about that. He deserves one!!

(Sam, Sam, Beat the Retreat)
by R.P. Weston and Bert Lee (1931)

I'm hundred and two today, by goom!
Eh, today, I'm a hundred and two,
And at ten years of age, I wor soldiering, a
I wor drummer boy at Waterloo.

And when Wellington said, "Sam, my lad, get
thy drum,"
I wor so mighty anxious to start
That I dashed in front and got captured by
And were taken afore 'Boneyparte'.

And 'Boneyparte', scratching his-self under t'arm,
Like you see him in pictures today
Said, "Voila! so you are a drummer boy, oui ?
Then show me how well you can play."

"Sam, Sam! beat the Retreat! Beat the Retreat on thy drum,"
I said, "Beat the what ? - He said, "Beat the Retreat."
I said, "Nay, that's one thing as I'll never beat;

I'll beat ye the Charge, or I'll beat the Tattoo,
But I'm British and Yorkshire, ba goom!
And though you're Napoleon, I'll see thee blowed
If I'll beat the Retreat on my drum!"

Then scratching his-self under t'arm once again,
In the way 'Boneyparte' always did,
He said, "Sacre bloo!" which is French for "Ba goom",
"Eh, thou hast got a source for a kid."

Then he called Josephine (Josephine wor his Queen),
And he said, "Tell this lad, Josephine,
If he don't beat Retreat on his drum,
He'll be shot - aye and put under 'Guil-li-o-tine'."

So she put her arm round me, and stroking me 'air,
She whispered, "Hush, hush now - coom, coom!
Be a good lad - do as 'Boneyparte' tells thee,
And beat the Retreat on thy drum!"

I said, "Missus, nay!" - then she started to cry,
And she murmured, "Oh, lad, you are too sweet to die;
And hast thou a mother who loves thee ?" she sobbed.
I said, "Aye, and she's Yorkshire, ba goom!
And she'd beat the Retreat on me trousers
If I beat the Retreat on me drum!"

Then 'Boneyparte' scrarching his-self once again
Said, "My lad, I've a mother like her."
And taking his medals off with his two hands
And unpinning his gold Croix de Guerre

He put them on me, kissed me on both cheeks,
Then pulled me outside of the tent,
And leading me up to his Army,
And scratching his-elf under t'arm as he went,

"Soldiers of France," he cried,
"This is Sam Small, he's a hero though only a kid,
E-coutez, mes braves, et com-prenez toute suite!
What do you think this lad did ?"

"Beat the Retreat on thy drum! said I,
Beat the Retreat on thy drum!
And this lad refused, though I said he should die;
Why did he refuse ?" - I said, "I'll tell 'em why:

For two reasons I wouldn't beat the Retreat
Though I knew that it meant Kingdom come;
One reason was someone pinched both me sticks,
And the other, I'd busted me drum!"


  1. Oh...and I was thinking: loyalty....I should have known about Sam. :)) I'm 'larnin'...

  2. Love it, another wonderful poem.....Have a great day....:-) Bernie


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