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Forgotten Poem By Winnie The Pooh Author Found

Pooh poem1

Published at 7:14am 27th October 2016.

A long-forgotten poem written by Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne in WWI has been discovered in the archives of The Tank Museum in Bovington.

It was penned for, and performed at, a fundraising performance in November 1918 in support of the Tanks Corps Prisoners of War Fund, but was then filed away and forgotten.

Even ardent AA Milne enthusiasts were unaware of its existence and its emergence has caused a great deal of excitement.

Alan Alexander Milne served as an officer in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in WWI and after being invalided out in 1916 was recruited by M17b - a secret propaganda unit.
There, he joined other writers who churned out positive articles, pamphlets and updates to boost morale for the nation and for troops.  

This poem is about the innovative new British weapons, the 'wonderful tanks', and was discovered in the museum archive by Research Assistant Sheldon Rogers in a box of papers that once belonged Hugh Elles - the pioneering first commander of the Tank Corps.

Sheldon said: "We believe this poem was written specifically for a fundraising matinee which took place on 7th November 1918. It was in support of the Tank Corps PoW fund and the event was backed by the King and Queen, while the bands of the Welsh Guards and Scots Guards also took part.

"Although the programme had been catalogued, the significance of its contents had been overlooked, and no one seemed to have any knowledge of this poem, which was written before Milne had achieved fame with Winnie the Pooh.

"It is clearly a piece of propaganda and designed to celebrate the tank, which was a British invention and was of massive interest at the time.

"But more importantly he celebrates the men who served in the tanks. He had been wounded himself and knew what conditions were like."

Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, who lives close to Bovington and is a best-selling novelist and creator of Downton Abbey, said: "It's interesting to see how our perception of objects compares with those of people from another era. I do not doubt his motives were all to the good.

"Alan Milne was an extraordinary character who has great interest to us because his son, Christopher, was a great friend of my father-in-law."

Pooh poem2

The poem was written six years before Milne's most famous creation, Winnie-the-Pooh, first appeared in Punch magazine.

The typed poem was found on a yellowing sheet of paper and was titled simply 'POEM', with 'By A. A. Milne' at the bottom. Milne, who was born in 1882, served in the Home Guard in World War Two, and died in 1956.

He is a noted poet, playwright and author as well as being creator of Winnie-the-Pooh.

The poem will be going on display at The Tank Museum, which contains one of the largest collection of armoured vehicles in the world.

It reads:

You have head of the wonderful Tanks,
There are legends about them in plenty:
They will flatten a wood
If the cover's too good,
Or recline on Hill 60 until it's Hill 20.
There's a story that one for a wager -
A matter of twenty-five francs -
Flew off on its own,
And just pushed down Cologne,
A proceeding which rather annoyed the Town Major.

Oh, they're devils when once they get going,
They are up to the oddest of pranks;
There's a patter - Mark III -
Which can swim in the sea,
And submerge until only its periscope's showing.
Oh they're wonderful, wonderful things are the Tanks!
You have heard of them?
THANKS!

You have read of the actual Tanks.
"At dawn we attacked on the So-and-So line,
Observation was good and the weather was fine.
On the right of the sector the Umptieth Blanks
Secured their objectives - assisted by Tanks"
With the co-operation of Tanks.

And perhaps you have pictured a Tank,
As it poised and pitches
Itself at the ditches,
And noses its way up the bank.
You can hear its machinery clank,
And its guns rat-tat-tat,
As it opens on Fritz,
And he runs like a rat;
But there's no use in that.
He's cornered "tat-tat" -
And shot as he sits...

So, perhaps you have pictured the Tanks,
The latest invention, the Tanks,
Is there wire in the way?
Then send for the Tanks!
Are machine-guns at play?
Then forward the Tanks!
The Tanks that go anywhere - Forward the Tanks!
The grim mechanical Tanks.
And you're proud as you read of the wonderful Tanks.
You are proud of them?
THANKS!

But they're not quite mechanical Tanks;
There are men at the wheel and the gun.
And the grim reputation of Tanks,
And the wonderful things that they've done,
And the battles they've won,
Are the work of the MEN in the Tanks.
And it isn't all fun
For the men who sit tight in the Tanks.
No, it isn't all fun in the Tanks:
You may read with a cheer
How they crashed down the wire,
But perhaps you don't hear
That a couple caught fire -
Well, it's one of the risks of the Tanks.

For the humans who sit in the Tanks:
The brain and the soul of the Tanks,
The Tanks that go anywhere. Anywhere, true,
If the men in the Tanks will go anywhere too -
As they do.

So remember, whenever you talk of the Tanks,
The newest invention, the wonderful Tanks -
The older invention - the men in the ranks;
The wonderful men of all ranks.
For they're just the same men, only more so, in Tanks.
You'll remember them?
THANKS!

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