The Thin Blue Line

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In The Pink

'In The Pink' is a musical written by Colin Burgess and Jim Butt and originally performed, in May 2001, by a cast from Year 10 at Priory School in Lewes, East Sussex directed by Susie Lawrence.

A Governor of the school bought at auction a tin box containing letters and photographs which he thought might be of interest to Jim Butt the Head of History. 

Research carried out showed that the documents all related to Private 27958 Rupert Mason Freeman of the 1st Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment who was killed in action in France on 3rd August 1917.

With a certain degree of artistic licence the musical tells the story of Rupert from enlisting as Private 4893 of the Northants Regiment to his death serving with the East Yorks.

It is both moving and high entertaining, skilfully managing to use a 'rock' musical theme set within a First World War scenario.


Featured in the musical is the following poem by Harold Begbie. It was discovered amongst the possessions of another Old Contemptible Tommy Smallwood by his grandson Ken Smallwood.


What will you lack, sonny, what will you lack,

When the girls line up in the street,

Shouting their love to the lads who come back

From the foe they rushed to beat?

Will you send a strangled cheer to the sky;

And grin till your cheeks are red?

But what will you lack when your mate goes by

With a girl who cuts you dead?


Where will you look, sonny, where will you look,

When your children yet to be

Clamour to learn of the part you took

In the War that kept men free?

Will you say that it was naught to you if France

Stood up to her foe or bunked?

But where will you look when they give you the glance

That tells you they know you funked?


How will you fare, sonny, how will you fare,

In the far-off winter night,

When you sit by the fire in an old man's chair

And your neighbours talk of the fight?

Will you slink away, as it were from a blow,

Your old head shamed and bent?

Or say - I was not with the first to go,

But I went, thank God, I went?


Why do they call, sonny, why do they call

For men who are brave and strong?

Is it naught to you if your country fall,

And Right is smashed by Wrong?

Is it football still and the picture show,

The pub and the betting odds,

When your brothers stand to the tyrant's blow

And England's call is God's?