A.P. Herbert (1890 – 1971) was an independent MP and a humourist, novelist, playwright and poet known as “the wittiest man of his time”.
As an MP, Herbert took up many causes of social reform. During World War II he led the successful fight against a wartime tax on the sale of books. He also campaigned against a Government ruling that church bells should be rung only as a warning of invasion, arguing that it made church towers a target for German bombers. He took up the matter in verse:
“If we can not inform the town, That parachutes are coming down, Without inviting Huns to search, For targets in the parish church, The old inventive British brain, Had better, surely, think again. Bring back the bells; and use a drum, To let us know that Hitler's come.”
Bring back the Bells contains around 60 such poems, written in 1941-43, mostly with themes of wartime life.