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SUSAN SPRING AND BILLJIM NOBBS
[A Plain Unvarnished ANZAC Tale]
by
Cpl. James Watts A.I.F.

Susan Amelia Annie Spring
Was quite a winsome little thing
One of the best
(All London girls are fair and good
From Wapping to St John, his Wood,
And even farther West.)

Susan was charming, as we’ve seen
She said her age was just nineteen
And not a minute more
(More truthful girl you never met
But a Villain House called Somerset*
Muttered, “She’s Thirty-four.”)

Now Billjim Nobbs, arrayed in brown
On furlough came to London Town
He quizzed the passers-by
He greeted girls with grin and stare
He cocked his hat with reckless air
Over his bold bad eye.

His hair was black, his shoulders broad
He trod the pavement like a lord
(His legs were straight and long)
His attitude was large and free
And gay and frisky, as you see
He hailed from Wollongong.

One evening, just at Christmas tide
Billjim passed Susan in his stride
Out for her evening walk
She smiled at him and he at her
Outside of Daly’s Theatre
They then engaged in talk.

Sue told how excellent was she
In cooking and houswiferie
How patient, modest, kind
Surely on marriage she was set
And Private Nobbs began to get
Uneasy in his mind.

Quoth he, “We’ll meet another day
I’ll leave you now, and take my way
In quietness and in peace.”
Said sobbing Susan, “If you - dare
Desert me - here in - Leicester Square
I’ll scream for the police!”

The startled Anzac scratched his head
“I did not really mean,” he said
“To leave you in the lurch.
Come, cease your weeping, maid forlorn
We twain shall meet tomorrow morn
And wed in yonder church.”

Wedded they truly were and soon
They planned a happy honeymoon
Preceded by a dance
They caught the train for Dingley Dell
Where Nobbs was ‘nabbed’ (AWL**)
And bundled off to France.

They marched him in, they marched him out
They ran him round and round about
Which made him fit and well
With punctuality sublime
He reached the trenches just in time
To meet a bursting shell.

* * * * * * *

The stricken widow took her load
Of sorrow to Horseferry Road
(Crying with all her might)
Clad in habiliments of woe
Edged with a little white to show
That hope was still in sight.

Into a sanctum Sue was led
And to a high official said
“You nasty wicked thing,
If I don’t get, this very day
My pension, and my Billjim’s pay
I’ll interview the King.”

The officer, sedate and grave
The case consideration gave
Without undue delay
And then with inward sorrowing
Replied in manner following
To wit - that is to say:

“Madam, it goes against the grain
(Indeed it does) to give you pain
In this distressing matter
When Nobbs forsook the world of strife
He had another faithful wife
In distant Karrakatta,”

Into hysterics straight went Sue
Her cries were heard at Bakerloo
And far away at sea
Then she arose, suppressed her sobs
Resigned the title “Mistress Nobbs”
‘Took up’ with Roberts, nicknamed ‘Bobs’
Who, out at Shoreditch, does odd jobs
Industrious as can be.

 
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