The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #80804   Message #1483064
Posted By: el_punkoid_nouveau
12-May-05 - 03:05 AM
Thread Name: Songs about the Great War (WWI)
My own small contribution to the genre, to mark the 80th Anniversary in August 1994. The song did not follow my intention, but wrote itself for the 300+ British soldiers shot by their own side because they just couldn't cope with it any more. Could any of us have done any better?

The Captain's Letter

Our Tommy was a gallant lad, the Captain's letter said -
At only nineteen years of age in France he's lying dead.
He joined when he was just sixteen, and lied about his years -
He went despite his Father's cries, and ignored his Mother's tears.

Lord Kitchener had called him, and to the battle bade him go
To serve his King and Country, and fight the German foe.
From the day he left to the day he died, we ne'er saw him again -
Lord Kitchener took his body, Lord Haig left him insane.

It was no German bullet that took his life that day
When the fear of death and constant noise had worn is mind away.
For three years in the trenches, Tommy served his country well -
While others, more important, escaped that bloody hell.

Through Passchendaele and Wipers, and when the Somme ran red with blood,
With frostbite in his fingers, and trench foot from the mud.
His comrades bloody deaths cut through him to his heart
As they were raped by German bullets, or by shrapnel torn apart.

Our Tommy was a gallant lad, his comrade's letters said,
Until the blood and battles drove him off his head.
The chaos and confusion that was poor Tommy's lot
Sentenced him forever as a coward to be shot.

As an historian, I am aware that there may be a touch of poetic licence in there, but the same is true of any song. I'm also quite happy to put it on a CD if anyone wants a copy...