It was Christmas Day in the trenches
In Spain in t'Peninsular War,
And Sam Small were cleaning his musket
A thing as he'd ne'er done before.
They'd had 'em inspected that morning
And Sam had got into disgrace,
For when t'Sergeant had looked down t'barrel
A sparrow flew out in his face.
The sergeant reported the matter
To Lieutenant Bird then and there.
Said t'Lieutenant "How very disgusting
The Duke must be told of this 'ere."
The Duke were upset when he heard it.
He said, "I'm astonished, I am"
I must make a most drastic example:
There'll be no Christmas pudding for Sam."
When Sam were informed of 'is sentence
Surprise rooted 'im to the spot.
'Twas much worse than he had expected,
He thought as he'd only be shot.
And so he sat cleaning 'is musket
And polishing t'barrel and butt.
While the pudding his mother had sent him,
Lay there on t'grass at 'is foot.
Now the front line that Sam's lot were holding
Ran all round a town: Badajoz.
Where the Frenchies 'ad put up a bastion
And ooh... what a bastion it was.
They pounded away all the morning
With canister, grapeshot and ball.
But the face of the bastion defied 'em,
They made no impression at all.
They started again after dinner
Bombarding as hard as they could.
And the Duke brought his own private cannon
But that weren't a ha'pence o' good.
The Duke said, "Sam, put down thy musket
And help me lay this gun real true."
Sam answered, "You'd best ask your favours
From them as you give pudding to."
The Duke looked at Sam so reproachful
"And don't take it that way," said he.
"Us Generals have got to be ruthless
It hurts me more than it did thee."
Sam sniffed at these words kind of skeptic,
Then looked down the Duke's private gun.
And said "We'd best put in two charges,
We'll never bust bastion with one."
He tipped t'cannonball out of t'muzzle
He took out the wadding and all.
He filled t'barrel chock full o' powder,
Then picked up and put back the ball.
He took a good aim at the bastion
Then said "Right-o, Duke, let her fly."
The cannon nigh jumped off its trunnions,
And up went the bastion, sky high.
The Duke, he weren't 'alf elated
He danced around t'trench full o' glee.
And said, "Sam, for this gallant action
You can hot up your pudding for tea.'
Sam looked 'round to pick up his pudding
But it weren't there - nowhere about.
In t'place where he thought he had left it,
Lay the cannonball he'd just tipped out.
Sam saw in a flash what'd happened:
By an unprecedented mishap
The pudding his mother had sent him
Had blown Badajoz off t'map.
That's why Grenadiers wear to this moment
A badge which they think's a grenade.
But they're wrong... it's a brass reproduction
Of the pudding Sam's mother once made.
Marriott Edgar [1880-1951]