Every day and night I’m thinking of the things I left behind,
Yet I loathe to put on paper what is running through my mind,
But I think I’ll feel much better, so I guess I’ll take a chance,
Ere the regiment is ordered to the shores of sunny France.
We’ve dug a million trenches and have cleared ten miles of ground,
And a meaner place this side of Hell, I know has ne’er been found,
We’ve drilled in dust and scorching sun, in mud and driving rain,
‘Till our eyes and ears and legs and arms were yelling loud with pain.
But there’s still one consolation, gather closely while I tell,
When we die we’re bound for Heaven, ’cause we’ve done our hitch in Hell.
We’ve built a thousand mess halls for the cooks to stew our beans,
We’ve stood a hundred guard mounts, and cleaned the camp latrines,
We’ve washed a million mess kits, and peeled a million spuds,
We’ve rolled a million blanket rolls and washed a million duds,
The number of parades we’ve made is awfully hard to tell,
But we’ll not parade in Heaven, for we paraded here in Hell.
We’ve passed a million sleepless hours upon our army cots,
And shook a hundred centipedes from out our army socks,
We’ve marched a hundred thousand miles and made a thousand camps,
And pulled a million cacti thorns from our army pants,
So when our work on earth is done, our friends behind will tell,
“When they died they went to Heaven, ’cause they did their hitch in Hell.”
The slum and coffee we have cussed, likewise the Willie canned,
We’ve damned the gentle gusts of wind that filled the air with sand,
We’ve taken the injections, ten million germs or more,
And the vaccine scratched upon our arms has made them very sore,
With all these things to get our goats, we all are here to tell,
When the order comes to cross the pond we’ll give the Germans Hell.
When the final taps is sounded and we lay aside life’s cares,
And we do the last and gloried parade, on Heaven’s shining stairs,
And the angels bid us welcome and the harps begin to play,
We can draw a million canteen checks and spend them in a day,
It is then we’ll hear St. Peter tell us loudly with a yell,
“Take a front seat you soldier men, you’ve done your hitch in Hell.”
by Frank Bernard Camp in “American Soldier Ballads”