Until I read it on this very StatNisland web site, I wasn't aware that there was a sub-category of the human species known as "the Field Tech." I had been operating under the impression that there were only two categories, "Lifeguards," and "SPs." [SP, short for SPH, or Seasonal Park Helper, more commonly known as "Sh*t Pickers", for the activity with the stick having the nail embedded in the business end, used for picking up trash paper and empty beer cans at the NYC beaches and parks; uniform of the day was typically orange pants, a green t-shirt, a sailor cap, and a goofy grin; usually invisible during the day except when pretty girls were around.]
Imagine my surprise when it turns out that one of our own SPs turned into a Field Tech, and that someone had actually written a pome about this category of humanity, and not a bad pome at that. I wondered who the named author was, who coulda done that, as the verse was said to have hung on our SP's wall for thoity (30) years or more, without further attribution.
Lo and behold, I'm reading one of the most expressive of writers in English when I come across what must have at least provided the inspiration for Mr. Blivet's favorite verse. It's called "Sappers," subtitled "Royal Engineers," and is by Rudyard Kipling, no date given in two works of his that I have available. I had thought a sapper was a military person who planted explosives, but apparently in English military usage in the days of Empire it refers to engineers. Explosives people in our usage are probably a subset of that. At any rate, see if this looks similar to the field tech poem.
When the Waters were dried and the Earth did appear,
("It's all one," says the Sapper),
The Lord he created the Engineer,
Her Majesty's Royal Engineer,
With the rank and pay of a Sapper.
When the Flood came along for an extra monsoon,
‘Twas Noah constructed the first pontoon,
To the plans of Her Majesty's, etc.
[That's how the verse ends, the "etc."(and all of the "etc."s being Kipling's, not mine.]
But after fatigue in the wet an' the sun,
Old Noah got drunk, which he wouldn' ha' done,
If he trained with, etc. [ditto; you can see that field techs and strong drink go back some way together. -r]
When the Tower of Babel had mixed up men's bat [talk],
Some clever civilian was managing that,
And none of, etc.
When the Jews had a fight at the foot of a hill,
Young Joshua ordered the sun to stand still,
For he was a Captain of Engineers, etc.
When the Children of Israel made bricks without straw,
They were learning the regular work of our Corps,
The work of, etc.
For ever since then, if a war they would wage,
Behold us a-shinin' on history's page,
First page for, etc.
We lay down their sidings an' help ‘em entrain,
An' we sweep up their mess through the bloomin' campaign;
In the style of, etc.
They send us in front with a fuse and a mine, (I wuz right, they are the ground based bombardiers]
To blow up the gates that are rushed by the Line.
But bent by, etc.
They send us behind with a pick an' a spade,
To dig for the guns of a bullock brigade
Which has asked for, etc.
We work under escort in trousers and shirt
[Orange and green?]
An' the heathen [from Brooklyn or Joisey, no doubt] they plug us tail-up in the dirt,
We blast out the rock and shovel the mud,
We make ‘em good roads an' --they roll down the khud [hillside, i.e., instead of using the road]
We make ‘em their bridges, their wells, an' their huts,
An' the telegraph wire the enemy cuts,
An' it's blamed on, etc.
An' when we return, and from war we would cease
They grudge us adornin' the billets of peace,
Which are kept for, etc.
We build ‘em nice barracks--they swear they are bad,
That our Colonels are Methodist, married, or mad,
They haven't no manners, nor gratitude too,
For the more that we help them, the less will they do,
But mock at, etc.
Now the Line's but a man with a gun in his hand,
An' Cavalry's only what horses can stand,
When helped by, etc.
Artillery moves by the leave o' the ground,
But we are the men that do something all round,
For we are, etc.
I have stated it plain and my argument's thus
("It's all one," says the Sapper}
There is only one Corps which is perfect--that's us
An' they call us Her Majesty's Engineers,
Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
With the rank and pay of a Sapper.
Okay, but there's more, which has to be posted separately due to something called "overflow error" which Kipling didn't have to worry about, but we do, so if you're interested look for Part Two somewhere below this in a separate posting.
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