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WWI Trench songs

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Lighter 08 Dec 13 - 08:45 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Dec 13 - 11:34 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Dec 13 - 12:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Dec 13 - 01:08 PM
Keith A of Hertford 08 Dec 13 - 02:52 PM
Jim Dixon 08 Dec 13 - 05:22 PM
Lighter 08 Dec 13 - 08:01 PM
Jim Dixon 09 Dec 13 - 11:50 PM
Jim Dixon 10 Dec 13 - 06:58 PM
Jim Dixon 10 Dec 13 - 09:28 PM
Keith A of Hertford 11 Dec 13 - 03:11 AM
GUEST,John from "Elsie`s Band" 11 Dec 13 - 05:29 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Dec 13 - 07:06 PM
GUEST,Carl Eby 29 Mar 17 - 11:58 PM
Lighter 30 Mar 17 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,Carl Eby 30 Mar 17 - 11:25 PM
GUEST,Mac 08 Apr 20 - 10:05 PM
cnd 08 Apr 20 - 10:46 PM
Jack Campin 09 Apr 20 - 07:00 AM
rich-joy 10 Apr 20 - 12:59 AM
cnd 10 Apr 20 - 10:02 AM
robomatic 10 Apr 20 - 08:02 PM
Jack Campin 10 Apr 20 - 08:07 PM
cnd 10 Apr 20 - 10:53 PM
Jack Campin 11 Apr 20 - 05:22 AM
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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Dec 13 - 08:45 AM

The humorous satire of such soldier-made songs differs enormously from both the fake sentimental cheerfulness and/or jingoism of the pop songs - and the sincere, but equally contrived, tear-jerking of a much later,retrospective generation.


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Dec 13 - 11:34 AM

Another version of "Sing Me To Sleep," from Nettleington, 1917, Tommy's Tunes, 1917, posted in thread "Songs about World War 1."
(Sing me to sleep where Very lights fall...)


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Dec 13 - 12:37 PM

Lyr. Add: OUR LITTLE WET TRENCH IN THE WEST
Tune: Little grey Home in the West

In a little wet trench in the west,
Where the Germans cannot get at me,
It's not very grand, and we most of us stand,
And the only good thing is our tea.
Over there where the big shells fall,
The Huns are afraid of us- lest
We should bayonet them with British phlegm,
Should they visit our home in the west.

There are hands that will welcome them out,
There are guns that are waiting to fire,
There are eyes that look out for a chance of a bout,
Though we're up to our eyes in the mire.
It's a hell upon earth for us all,
But we mean to be first on the ball.
When the kick-off takes place, we'll be first in the race,
From our little wet trench in the west.

There are dug-outs and other things new,
Funk-holes, trench mortars, bombs and grenades,
The only thing hot is our ration of stew,
Don't we wish we were back at our trades?
Never mind- we're out on the job,
Though we're not paid at Union Rates,
Oh! we shan't rest content till we've made a big dent
In another wet tranch in the west.

Flanders, 1914. Nettleingham makes no comment about this song, which probably was never sung to any extent.

F. T. Nettleingham, 1917, "Tommy's Tunes," p. 29.


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Dec 13 - 01:08 PM

Lyr. Add: NEVER MIND
Tommy's version

Though your heart may ache awhile, never mind,
Though your heart may ache awhile, never mind,
You'll forget about it soon,
When you've had a good old spoon,
And your heart, it aches no more, never mind.

If the Sergeant's pinched your rum- never mind
If the Sergeant's on the bum- never mind.
If he collars all your fags, and you've nothing on but rags,
It's his affair- not yours- so never mind.
If the Swergeant says you're daft- never mind,
Maybe you are- who knows?- never mind.
It's no use to answer back, 'cos he won't stand any slack,
So if he says you're daft- then you are.

Many verses.
If the Sergeant's lost your bread- never mind
If he sticks it round a side car- never mind
And even if it's messed- he did it for the best,
For he's the Sergeant- dontcherknow- so never mind.
(Sung about a Sergeant RFC who fetched rations in a sidecar, bread tied around the sides and back. When he arrived at the unit, the bread was *"napoo"

* Il n'y a plus- no more, gone, spoiled, "Vamoosed."


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 08 Dec 13 - 02:52 PM

If the sergeant steals your rum, never mind,
If the sergeant steals your rum, never mind,
Though he's just a greedy sot,
Let him take the bleedin' lot
If the sergeant steals your rum, never mind.

If the Jeri shells your trench, never mind,
If the sergeant steals your rum, never mind,
Though the bleedin' sandbags fly;
You have only once to die,
If the sergeant steals your rum, never mind.

If you get caught on the wire, never mind,
If you get caught on the wire, never mind,
Though the light's as broad as day,
When you die they stop your pay,
If you get caught on the wire, never mind.


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Subject: Lyr Add: WHEN WE WIND UP THE WATCH ON THE RHINE
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Dec 13 - 05:22 PM

This might be the song that gnomad referred to back on 11 Nov 01 – 10:10 am—but note the difference in verb tense: "When we wind up..." rather than "When we've wound up...". Also, see the footnotes.

From the sheet music at The Levy Collection:


WHEN WE WIND UP THE WATCH ON THE RHINE
Words by Gordon V. Thompson, music by Gordon V. Thompson and William Davis.
New York: Leo Feist, Inc., 1917.

1. Now we must part,
Heart of my heart.
I can hear the bugle sounding with a call so clear.
Till I return,
My heart will yearn
For the girl I leave behind me in the homeland dear

CHORUS: When we wind up the watch on the Rhine,
And we grind up the Kaiser's last line,
When the war is done and the victory won,
I'll come back to the girl that I call mine.
When we wind up the watch on the Rhine,
We will bind up two hearts that entwine.
Wedding bells will be ringing.
"Home Sweet Home" we'll be singing,
When we wind up the watch on the Rhine.

2. Just one short line,
Sweetheart of mine:
I am battling for my country far from home tonight.
Though foes assail,
Right must prevail,
So keep knitting still and smiling till we win our fight.


[The title is a punning reference to a German patriotic anthem Die Wacht am Rhine (tr. The Watch on the Rhine).]

The National Library of Australia has sheet music described thus (but it is not viewable online):

WHEN WE'VE WOUND UP THE WATCH ON THE RHINE
Words by F. W. Mark, music by H. E. Darewski
Melbourne & London: Allan & Co. Pty. Ltd.; Francis, Day & Hunter ©1914.
"Sung by Jack Cannot in the Tivoli Follies. Also by Sydney James and the Royal Strollers"

The British Library has sheet music described thus (but it is not viewable online):

WHEN WE'VE WOUND UP THE WATCH ON THE RHINE
by J. Urquhart Ireland
Winnipeg & Toronto: Whaley, Royce & Co., ©1916.


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Dec 13 - 08:01 PM

In my castle on the river Rhine,
I'm gonna have one hell of a time!
Inlaid pretzels on the floor,
Kaiser Bill to open the door!
My cook'll be Princess Hohenzollerin,
She'll bring me Christmas dinner from the town of Berlin.
I'll hang my pants on the Hindenburg Line,
In my castle on the river!
Castle on the river!
Castle on the river Rhine!


(Parody of "My Castle on the River Nile," by Robert Cole, James Weldon Johnson, and J. Rosamund Johnson [1902].)


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Subject: Lyr Add: GOOD-BYE BROADWAY, HELLO FRANCE
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 09 Dec 13 - 11:50 PM

A guest mentioned this song back at 30 Jul 10 - 05:15 PM. These words are from the sheet music at The University of Mississippi; Click for a PDF.

"Big song hit of 'Passing Show of 1917' at N.Y. Winter Garden"
GOOD-BYE BROADWAY, HELLO FRANCE
Words by C. Francis Reisner and Benny Davis; music by Billy Baskette.
New York: Leo. Feist, Inc., ©1917.

1. Goodbye, New York town! Goodbye, Miss Liberty!
Your light of freedom will guide us across the sea,
Ev'ry soldier's sweetheart bidding goodbye,
Ev'ry soldier's mother drying her eye.
Cheer up! We'll soon be there,
Singing this Yankee air:

CHORUS: Goodbye, Broadway! Hello, France! We're ten million strong.
Goodbye, sweethearts, wives, and mothers. It won't take us long.
Don't you worry while we're there. It's for you we're fighting too,
So goodbye, Broadway! Hello, France! We're going to square our debt to you.

2. "Vive Pershing!" is the cry across the sea.
We're united in this fight for liberty.
France sent us a soldier, brave Lafayette,
Whose deeds and fame we cannot forget.
Now that we have the chance,
We'll pay our debt to France   

CHORUS 2: Goodbye, Broadway! Hello, France! We're ten million strong.
Goodbye, sweethearts, wives, and mothers. It won't take us long.
Don't you worry while we're there. It's you we're fighting for.
So goodbye, Broadway! Hello, France! We're going to help you win this war.


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Subject: Lyr Add: "In the night they let us wander...."
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Dec 13 - 06:58 PM

On 15 Apr 12 - 11:55 AM above, guest Barbara said her grandfather sang a song called LOUSY SHIRTS, so I went looking with Google for "lousy shirts." I found the following song which contains the phrase "lousy shirts," but not so prominently, I think, that one would take it for the title.

From Lieutenant Owen William Steele of the Newfoundland Regiment by David R. Facey-Crowther, (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2002), page 66, at the head of a chapter titled "Suvla Bay (19 September 1915 – 5 December 1915)." I don't think the title of the chapter is meant to be the title of the song, but no other title is given.

In the night they let us wander.
There was no one sent to meet
Till we found some empty dugouts
Where to rest our weary feet.

Airplanes dropped bombs upon us.
Shells went screeching overhead.
Shelter from the rain was asked for.
"There is none," the staff all said.

Then the order came to dress up,
To get picks and shovels from HQ.
They brought back no bloody shovels
And I fear the story is true,
For they raided and stole puddings,
Pinched the general's turkey too,
And of Christmas cheer they gave us
Bulley beef and biscuits few.
No tobacco, rum or pudding.
Did we grumble?—Wouldn't you?

All our lousy shirts and jam tins,
O'er the parapet did throw.
Did the staff complain about it?
No! They chucked it long ago.

Capt. Wilson says we are dirty.
Armstrong's views are just the same,
So we are never downhearted.
What is dirt compared to fame?

Song composed for the Dardanelles Companies
(Tune: What a Friend We Have in Jesus)


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Subject: Lyr Add: GOING HOME (Robert W. Service)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Dec 13 - 09:28 PM

C. Stuart Cook, on 08 Sept 13 – 02:51, mentions having sung a song called "Back to Blighty" by Robert Service. I don't find a song with that exact title, but I find this one, which I suspect is what he meant:

From Rhymes of a Red Cross Man by Robert W. Service (New York: Barse & Hopkins, 1916), page 90:

GOING HOME
Robert W. Service

I'm goin' 'ome to Blighty — ain't I glad to 'ave the chance!
I'm loaded up wiv fightin', and I've 'ad my fill o' France;
I'm feelin' so excited-like, I want to sing and dance,
For I'm goin' 'ome to Blighty in the mawnin'.

I'm goin' 'ome to Blighty: can you wonder as I'm gay?
I've got a wound I wouldn't sell for 'alf a year o' pay;
A harm that's mashed to jelly in the nicest sort o' way,
For it takes me 'ome to Blighty in the mawnin'.

'Ow everlastin' keen I was on gettin' to the front!
I'd ginger for a dozen, and I 'elped to bear the brunt;
But Cheese and Crust! I'm crazy, now I've done me little stunt,
To sniff the air of Blighty in the mawnin'.

I've looked upon the wine that's white, and on the wine that's red;
I've looked on cider flowin', till it fairly turned me 'ead;
But oh, the finest scoff will be, when all is done and said,
A pint o' Bass in Blighty in the mawnin'.

I'm goin' back to Blighty, which I left to strafe the 'Un;
I've fought in bloody battles, and I've 'ad a 'eap of fun;
But now me flipper's busted, and I think me dooty's done,
And I'll kiss me gel in Blighty in the mawnin'.

Oh, there be furrin' lands to see, and some of 'em be fine;
And there be furrin' gels to kiss, and scented furrin' wine;
But there's no land like England, and no other gel like mine:
Thank Gawd for dear old Blighty in the mawnin'.


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 11 Dec 13 - 03:11 AM

In the style of Danny Deever by Kipling.


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: GUEST,John from "Elsie`s Band"
Date: 11 Dec 13 - 05:29 AM

I recall a record from my grandmother`s collection with the song "They Were Only Playing Leapfrog" sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". This song is well and truly covered on the Internet and was used in the film "Oh What a Lovely War."


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Dec 13 - 07:06 PM

Lyr. Add: WHEN THE GUNS ARE ROLLING YONDER
Tune- When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder.

Every soldier leaves behind, oh, a girl that's true and kind,
But you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
To the war you'll be away, just a little while to stay,
Oh, you'll never see your sweetheart any more.

Chorus-
When the guns are rolling yonder,
When the guns are rolling yonder,
When the guns are rolling yonder,
When the guns are rolling yonder,
We'll be there.

2
You'll be marching up to battle where those damned machine-guns rattle,
But you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
When you're hanging on the wire under heavy hostile fire,
Oh, you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
3
When your lungs are filled with gas, you'll be thinking of a lass,
But you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
Lying in the mud and rain, with a shrapnel in your brain,
Oh, you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
4
When the charge is made at last, you'll be riding hard and fast, And you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
And the poppies they will nod when you bite the blooming sod,
Oh, you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
5
When the colonel says "G-- d--- it, get that battery to the front,"
And you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
When the Huns get your deflection, you'll be absent at inspection,
And you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
6
There will be no more to tell, when you stop a screaming shell,
And you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
For you'll wear a wooden jacket when the enemy gets your bracket,
Oh, you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
7
Still, you may come back to find the girl you left behind
Doesn't want to see her sweetheart any more,
For you were across the sea, she acquired a family.
Oh, you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
8
Let us love while yet we may, for perhaps there'll come a day
When you'll never see your sweetheart any more.
For the jackal and the crow said 'twas ever, ever so-
Oh, you'll never see your sweetheart any more.

With musical score, pp. 131-133.
From The Bearcat Hymn Book," 76th Field Artillery.

E. A. Dolph, 1929, 1942, "Sound Off," Soldier Songs from the Revolution to World War II," Farrar & Rinehart.


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: GUEST,Carl Eby
Date: 29 Mar 17 - 11:58 PM

Has anyone ever encountered the following bawdy piece of WWI doggerel?

Vive le cast iron steel the pilot's best friend
For who would have his cock and balls shot free
So that he could no proper part of England be
No progeny and wealth acquire
Some Fokker having blasted his desire.
Come celebrate with me the thin steel sheet
Where languidly we park our meat
Thus shielding England's tools and seed
Against our country's future need.

It pops up in a Hemingway manuscript where the character is a former WWI pilot, but I haven't been able to track down the source. If anyone could help it would be much appreciated!


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: Lighter
Date: 30 Mar 17 - 01:10 PM

I've read a *lot* abut WW1 songs and poems, memoirs of the war and books by and about Hemingway, and I've never seen this before or anything that resembles it.

It doesn't sound to me like a Hemingway original, for what that's worth.

What manuscript is it from? You mean there are still unpublished Hemingway mss.?


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: GUEST,Carl Eby
Date: 30 Mar 17 - 11:25 PM

Thanks so much for the reply! It's from an unpublished portion of Hemingway's posthumously published novel The Garden of Eden. Only about half of the manuscript was ever published, and I'm currently writing a book about the full manuscript. (For what it's worth, there are still a few unpublished stories--some not too bad, though none of them great.)

The passage with these verses also mentions Ernst Udet, who flew a Fokker. It also alludes to the French (post-WWI) pilot Michael Detroyat and mentions Archibald MacLeish's brother Kenny, who was a pilot who died in the war.

I agree about the authorship of the lines. I don't think the verse is a Hemingway original. Hemingway knew WWI aces like Billy Bishop and Udet, but this sounds more like an RAF song. Hemingway covered the RAF as a journalist very briefly in WWII, and he knew a young Roald Dahl when he was in the RAF, but I doubt anyone would have been repeating an old WWI verse like that in 1944. That said, Hemingway was a pretty meticulous researcher and I almost never check a detail in his work without pinning it down in something significant (although when writing first drafts his memory could be a imperfect).

I could be that the verses are authentic but just so bad that no one else ever bothered to write them down.... If anyone can shed light on them I'd appreciate it!


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: GUEST,Mac
Date: 08 Apr 20 - 10:05 PM

Anyone remember a Glasgow soldiers song which finished with " An his wee baggy breeks were needin mendin,afore they send im to the Dardanelles .... My dad used to sing it before WW11... Many thanks for any info....regards...Mac


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Subject: Lyr Add: The Moon Shines Bright on Charlie Chaplin
From: cnd
Date: 08 Apr 20 - 10:46 PM

Mac, see https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=105065&messages=29#4044771


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Apr 20 - 07:00 AM

I got a copy of a song sheet recently from a local history/nostalgia forum - it was written by a Scottish soldier who fought at Gallipoli and died shortly after. I doubt it's ever been reprinted - it's a longwinded description of the battle as his regiment experienced it, capped with a few gung-ho cliches, nowhere near in the same artistic league as "Çanakkale içinde", but still of historical interest.

I've only got it as a picture on this iPhone 4S, and have no other access to the Internet, which makes transcribing it impossibly difficult. I can send it to anyone with better technology - many of you can find me on Facebook or know my email address.


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: rich-joy
Date: 10 Apr 20 - 12:59 AM

I was rather fond of the Zo Elliot & Stoddard King composition "There's a Long, Long Trail" and so my partner and I learnt it from the John Roberts & Tony Barrand version, mentioned above in March 2001 by Meadow Muskrat.

We sang it for my late Mum on a visit home to Perth and she promptly burst into tears!
She explained that her Mother had told her "It was your Father's favourite song!" He had died in 1926 from the TB he had caught as an Aussie Medical Orderly in WWI.

I sure wish I had known him .......

R-J
Down Under


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Subject: Lyr Add: The 7th Scottish Rifles Glorious Charge
From: cnd
Date: 10 Apr 20 - 10:02 AM

Thanks to Jack for emailing me the picture, here are the lyrics to "The 7th Scottish Rifles Glorious Charge", written by "Private James Floyd -- Killed in Action at the Dardenelles." It does not include the year of publication. Just under the attribution is the word "FLOOD" which I assume is the publisher? I have typed it up exactly as printed.

The 7th Scottish Rifles Glorious Charge
(Pvt. James Floyd)

It was on June the Twenty-Seventh,
Just at the close of day,
We paraded at our rest camp,
Prepared to move away.

We all moved off in single file,
Eager to take our spell,
Up in the British firing-line,
Under shot and shell.

Next morning just at Eight o'clock,
The roar of a mighty gun,
Was the signal to us all,
The bombardment had begun.

We hurried with our breakfast,
And soon we were all ready,
With bayonets fixed we all stood,
And every man was steady,

The Artillery and the Navy,
Set all their guns to work,
And did some awful damage,
To poor old John the Turk.

Of course the Turks they shelled us,
And did it very badly,
And for the name of King and Country,
We all stood it gladly.

But soon this work did tell its tale,
For on the ground were lying,
Some poor lads who had been struck,
And some of them were dying.

This kept up for hours,
And we knew full well,
We had the great experience,
To have the glimpse of hell.

Just at Eleven to a minute,
Our hearts were growing large,
For we knew the next thing was,
To have a gallant charge.

Just then we leapt the parapet,
To meet a hail of fire,
From the Turkish rifles,
But we would not retire.

When we got the first Turkish trench,
They then threw bombs to perfection,
Lance Corporal Ross won his D. C. M.,
By saving the lives of his section.

The Colonel and Adjutant,
And two platoons of men,
Were looked for all along the line,
But found to be missing then.

We held the trenches we had gained,
With all our main and might,
And the word was passed along,
We'd be relieved at night.

We got back to our rest camp,
Very tired and sore,
We knew we had done our work,
Our first great charge was o'er.

Early the next morning,
When we called the roll,
It was then we realized,
We had paid a heavy toll.

We lost a lot of comrades,
Very true and brave,
Away out there in Turkey,
In their lonely graves,

We are sorry for their mothers,
Wife, comrade, or friend,
Of the wounded fellows.
And those who met their end.

We like the work we've got to do,
Because our fears diminished,
And hope that we will get revenge,
Before the war is finished.


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: robomatic
Date: 10 Apr 20 - 08:02 PM

There's a memorable sci-fi story from the 40s where a researcher in a long dead town hears some pitiful creatures living in the leftover sewers. They are singing an old song:

Balasamo, balasamo Sarnocorpano!
Binomosha, sadarosha!
Chu mila balasamo!

At the end of the tale the researcher is dying in the ruins and he realizes the singers were once human, and are reciting almost ritualistically the words:

Bless 'em all, bless 'em all, sergeants and corporals all!
There'll be no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up my lads, bless 'em all.

He knows he is in London, after the Ten Minutes War.


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Apr 20 - 08:07 PM

Flood was the soldier's real name - the printer got it wrong. The FB poster was a descendant, also a Flood.


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: cnd
Date: 10 Apr 20 - 10:53 PM

Thanks for clearing that up for me, Jack. And thanks, robo, an interesting story about a sort of version of the folk song process


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Subject: RE: WWI Trench songs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Apr 20 - 05:22 AM

...and thanks for typing all that in! I'd guess there are details in there you won't find in a regimental history, so the unsingable length does have compensations. I wonder what other productiins like that survive?


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