> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Troopin’


[words Rudyard Kipling, music trad. arr. Peter Bellamy; notes on Troopin’ at the Kipling Society]

Troopin’ is a poem from Rudyard Kipling’s book Barrack-Room Ballads. Peter Bellamy sang it on his third album of songs set to Kipling’s poems, Peter Bellamy Sings the Barrack-Room Ballads of Rudyard Kipling. He noted:

Four-pence a day was the retaining fee of soldiers returned to England after six years in India. The Jumna and the Malabar were two of the transports which each September brought the “new draft” ro India and the “old draft” back home. The tune is traditionally from the North of England, these days usually associated with the Tommy Armstrong composition The Trimdon Grange Explosion.

Peter Bellamy re-recorded the song in 1990 for his privately issued cassette Soldiers Three.

John Morris and John O’Hagan sang Troopin’ on the 1995 album of Barrack Room Ballads and other soldier’s poems of Rudyard Kipling as set to traditional tunes by Peter Bellamy, The Widow’s Uniform. Dave Webber noted:

“The six year men are free…”, this being the minimum period of service with the Colours. The song is full of the joy and optimism of soldiers returning home from long service overseas, without regard to the precarious future that awaits them (though the poet is well aware of it). Malabar and Jumna were two of the battalion-size troopships doing duty to and from India.



Troopin’, troopin’, troopin’ to the sea:
’Ere’s September come again and the six-year men are free.
O leave the dead be’ind us, for they cannot come away
To where the ship’s a-coalin’ up that takes us ’ome to-day.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
We’re goin’ ’ome, we’re goin’ ’ome,
Our ship is at the shore,
An’ you must pack your ’aversack,
For we won’t come back no more.
Ho, don’t you grieve for me,
My lovely Mary-Ann,
For I’ll marry you yit on a fourp’ny bit
As a time-expired man.

The Malabar’s in ’arbour with the Jumner at ’er tail,
The time-expired’s waitin’ of ’is orders for to sail.
Ho! the weary waitin’ when on Khyber ’ills we lay,
But the time-expired’s waitin’ of ’is orders ’ome to-day.

They’ll turn us out at Portsmouth wharf in cold an’ wet an’ rain,
All wearin’ Injian cotton kit, but we will not complain;
They’ll kill us of pneumonia—for that’s their little way—
But damn the chills and fever, men, we’re goin’ ’ome to-day!

Troopin’, troopin’, winter’s round again!
See the new draf’s pourin’ in for the old campaign;
Ho, you poor recruities, but you’ve got to earn your pay—
What’s the last from Lunnon, lads? We’re goin’ there to-day.

Troopin’, troopin’, give another cheer—
’Ere’s to English women an’ a quart of English beer.
The Colonel an’ the regiment an’ all who’ve got to stay,
Gawd’s mercy strike ’em gentle—Whoop! we’re goin’ ’ome to-day.

repeat chorus