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Dunkirk remembered in song

mauvepink 25 May 10 - 12:46 PM
DonMeixner 25 May 10 - 01:02 PM
Emma B 25 May 10 - 01:24 PM
Emma B 25 May 10 - 02:06 PM
Reiver 2 25 May 10 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 25 May 10 - 03:33 PM
gnomad 25 May 10 - 04:54 PM
mauvepink 25 May 10 - 07:05 PM
mauvepink 25 May 10 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,mg 25 May 10 - 07:17 PM
Reiver 2 25 May 10 - 11:22 PM
Keith A of Hertford 26 May 10 - 03:32 AM
Keith A of Hertford 26 May 10 - 03:50 AM
Keith A of Hertford 26 May 10 - 03:51 AM
GUEST 26 May 10 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,Tom Nelligan 26 May 10 - 09:05 PM
DonMeixner 26 May 10 - 09:09 PM
gnomad 27 May 10 - 07:35 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 10 - 09:24 AM
GUEST,Fellwanderer 28 May 10 - 04:04 PM
Ref 28 May 10 - 07:41 PM
Reiver 2 28 May 10 - 07:59 PM
Charley Noble 28 May 10 - 09:29 PM
Reiver 2 28 May 10 - 10:12 PM
Reiver 2 29 May 10 - 12:16 AM
GUEST 29 May 10 - 10:30 AM
ChanteyMatt 29 May 10 - 11:33 AM
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Subject: Dunkirk remembered in songs
From: mauvepink
Date: 25 May 10 - 12:46 PM

Around 340,000 allied soldiers were 'rescued' between 26 May and 4 June 1940. Have you sung any songs that commemorate this historic moment in time in the past week or do you have plans top sing any in the next week?

Tonight I shall sing Tom Bliss "God Speed", which he wrote following Paul Gallico's novella "The Snow Goose". It's a beautiful song and story. Whilst it is not factual it will give me an opportunity to mention Dunkirk fifty years ago this week.

In the book itself, just as Philip Rhayader is etting sail to go rescue men at Dunkirk, in his little sailing boat, the little girl who had become friends with him while saving the life of a Snow Goose, Fritha, issues her last words to him "God Speed". At that point my tear ducts are always overwhelmed. Philip Rhayader is later killed but not before he has rescued soldiers of that fateful beach. In the winter the Snow Goose returns to his lighthouse and Fritha sees it as his spirit returning home.

Please tell us your song and story...

mp


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: DonMeixner
Date: 25 May 10 - 01:02 PM

The Fires of Callais by James Kellaghan has brought me up short everytime I have heard it. The notion that an entire army would be abandoned by it's leaders only to be saved by fisherman, ferry drivers and week end yachters restores my faith in my fellow man and my distrust for those in charge.

There is a song by the Battlefield Band that takes a more jaundiced look.

Don


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Emma B
Date: 25 May 10 - 01:24 PM

Thread and lyrics for the Battlefield Band song The Beaches of St Valery


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Emma B
Date: 25 May 10 - 02:06 PM

A small anecdote not entirely removed from the topic....

For every seven soldiers who escaped through Dunkirk, one man was left behind as a prisoner of war; many of these were soldiers from the British 51st (Highland) Division who fought on in France after the main part of the BEF had been evacuated from Dunkirk on 4th June.

While in the PoW camp near Salzburg Lieutenant J.E.M. 'Jimmy' Atkinson of the 7th Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders wrote a modern Scottish country dance the Reel of the 51st Highland Division with a St Andrews cross in its key formation.

His letter home with instructions for the dance was intercepted by the German security service, the Abwehr, who spent the rest of the war trying to break the code!


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Reiver 2
Date: 25 May 10 - 02:15 PM

I'd love to hear the song by The Battlefield Band, "The Fires of Calais" and "God Speed". [I wish someone would post them on You Tube!] Paul Gallico's story, "The Snow Goose is one of the most beautiful and moving stories ever written. It always brings tears to my eyes. A TV [I believe] film was made featuring one of my favorite actresses, Jenny Agutter, but doesn't seem to be available anywhere. If anyone knows of a way to get a VHS tape or DVD of that film, [The Snow Goose] please post the information! Many thanks. Jenny Agutter was a young girl at the time and her role as Frith was the beginning of her acting career.

I would dispute Don Meixner's incorrect assertion that the troops at Dunkirk were "abandoned" by the British government. The Royal Navy played a major role in the rescue and the government did everything it could. The government issued the call that was responded to so heroically by the civilian fishermen, ferryboat skippers and crews and yacht owners, because the large Navy ships could not reach the beaches due to shallow water and Dunkirk harbor was blocked by sunken ships.

Walter Lord, author of "A Night to Remember" about the sinking of the Titanic as well as "A Day of Infamy" [the attack on Pearl Harbor] and "Incredible Victory" [battle of Midway] among his many books, also wrote a detailed account entitled "The Miracle of Dunkirk," which should be "must" reading for anyone interested in the operation that Winston Churchill called "a miracle of deliverance."

Reiver 2


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 25 May 10 - 03:33 PM

Hi Reiver

My knowledge of Dunkirk is from one of 1 in 7. A friends Dad who was left on the beach. His indictment of the Admiralty was scathing to say the least. Over here in the states we learn very little of the British and WWII and not enough about our own troops.

His complaint was the notion that "we will walk in and just take the continent, no need to plan a retreat." He said, "The knew they couldn't come and get us so they just left us there."

I'm sure there is lots to discuss and debate about this topic but it won't diminish the fact of my admiration for group of people who rescued an army, had all to lose in this rescue, and did so without hesitation.

Don


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: gnomad
Date: 25 May 10 - 04:54 PM

An account of the evacuation which was written for Reader's Digest very shortly after the events, and by a participant, is "Miracle at Dunkirk" by Arthur D Divine. I don't know if it has been republished anywhere other than in Ernest Hemingway's "Men at War" anthology. Worth a read if you have access to a copy.

Something sometimes forgotten is just how many men did get away; some 340,000 or so, when the admiralty thought they would be lucky to get 30,000.   Getting that number off in such a short time and with no facilities was a remarkable feat, but that is no comfort at all to those instructed to act as rearguard and be captured.

The Beaches of St.Valery is one of those songs that I find sticks in my head for weeks every time I hear it, powerful stuff.


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: mauvepink
Date: 25 May 10 - 07:05 PM

For Reiver: God Speed with Tom Bliss

The song went down extremely well this evening along with Graham Dixon and John Cruickshank's "Lancashire Hero" from Trouble at `Mill

mp


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: mauvepink
Date: 25 May 10 - 07:11 PM

Apologies too! I just noticed my complete and total error of saying it was 50 years ago. It is actually 70! Sorry

mp


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 25 May 10 - 07:17 PM

There is a beautiful song about the Highlanders being POWs and composing the dance there. In the song at least they also teach it to the guards. It is written by Jim Stewart of New Brunswick, Marco Polo fame.

And I don't know how far I was from the place or what took place where I was in Ostend, Belgium..but I could feel in my bones that something huge had taken place nearby. mg


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Reiver 2
Date: 25 May 10 - 11:22 PM

Thanks mauvepink. Glad the song went over well.

I would not suggest that the British government was faultless in the events leading up to Dunkirk. Nor did any of the Allies expect the French army to collapse so suddenly which led to both French and British troops being trapped. I just think it is incorrect to say that the troops were "abandoned by their leaders." The entire country responded to rescue over 338,000 Allied troops, including over 100,000 French troops. Without that heroic rescue effort Britain would not have been able to continue the war. Lord writes, "In the summer of 1940 they were the only trained troops Britain had left." He adds, "...the significance of Dunkirk went far beyond such practical considerations. The rescue electrified the people of Britain, welded them together...." It was a defeat that may well have won the war.

Reiver 2


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 26 May 10 - 03:32 AM

A Radio play of The Snow Goose was broadcast last weekend.
You can still hear it here.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00sf8l0
The Navy did not abandon the the army. No effort was spared and many ships and sailors were lost in the operation.
No one expected The Germans to achieve in weeks what they failed to do in 4 years of war just 20 odd years earlier.


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 26 May 10 - 03:50 AM

Lancs Fusiliers on Dunkirk rearguard.
http://www.lancs-fusiliers.co.uk/gallerynew/Dunkirk/dunkirk.htm
A rearguard veteran remembers.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8702000/8702643.stm


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 26 May 10 - 03:51 AM

http://www.lancs-fusiliers.co.uk/gallerynew/Dunkirk/dunkirk.htm


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: GUEST
Date: 26 May 10 - 06:30 AM

I may be wrong but I think the 'Snow Goose' TV actress was Holly Aird.


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: GUEST,Tom Nelligan
Date: 26 May 10 - 09:05 PM

James Keelaghan's "Fires of Calais" still gives me chills after twenty-plus years. It's a brilliant piece of songwriting, although I do much prefer his original recording from the 1980s to the slower and quieter recent version.


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: DonMeixner
Date: 26 May 10 - 09:09 PM

Jenny Agutter according to the IMDB

D


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: gnomad
Date: 27 May 10 - 07:35 AM

Not in song, but HERE is a BBC audio slide show about Dunkirk. There are a couple of snatches of music, though I can't identify them, also some telling pictures.


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 10 - 09:24 AM

One of the songs is clearly a version of Liverpool Judies.
There is a new programme on the Yesterday channel tomorow about the rearguard action, and The Snow Goose will be on R4 again on Saturday.


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: GUEST,Fellwanderer
Date: 28 May 10 - 04:04 PM

It was most definitely Jenny, who won an Emmy for her role as Frith in The Snow Goose. A simply beautiful and moving film that has me in tears every time I watch it.

What a shame the BBC couldn't see fit to show it again after almost 40 years to mark the 70th anniversary so that all those who have not seen it since 1972 can see it again in its full glory.


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Ref
Date: 28 May 10 - 07:41 PM

Thanks for the postings. I mentioned this anniversary in my office yesterday and got a resounding chorus of "What's Dunkirk?"


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Reiver 2
Date: 28 May 10 - 07:59 PM

Keith A of Hertford, you're absolutely right about the BEF not being "abandoned" at Dunkirk. Absolutely incredible efforts were made to get the troops back to England. After my earlier post on this thread, I pulled "The Miracle of Dunkirk" down from the bookshelf and am re-reading it [for about the 3rd or 4th time]. Thanks Don M. and Fellwanderer for confirming that the Snow Goose actress was indeed Jenny Agutter. I still hope to see it somtime... can't understand why it's not been made available to the public on a DVD. I'm sure it's a truly "beautiful and moving" film. It would have to be as the story itself is beautiful and moving and so is Jenny Agutter, even today!

Reiver 2


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 May 10 - 09:29 PM

Here's another vote for "The Fires of Calais" as well as "The Beaches of St Valery." Fine songs that capture part of what happened on that desperate shore 70 years ago.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Reiver 2
Date: 28 May 10 - 10:12 PM

Gnomad, many thanks for posting the slide show of the Dunkirk evacuation. That's fantastic!

Reiver 2


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: Reiver 2
Date: 29 May 10 - 12:16 AM

An interesting historical side-note for Guest,mg, who, in an earlier post to this thread, mentioned a "beautiful song" about the Highlanders as POWs after Dunkirk. According to Walter Lord the 1st Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders were holding the town of La Bassee during the retreat to Dunkirk. He says that "against regulations" they wore kilts and by doing so they became "the last Scottish regiment to wear kilts in action." During the "Great War" [WWI] the kilted Scots were referred to by German troops as "the Ladies From Hell."

Reiver 2


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: GUEST
Date: 29 May 10 - 10:30 AM

The Snow Goose isn't available because Paul Gallico specified that it should not be shown again - although it was actually shown 3 times on the BBC. A very poor, and incomplete, copy is available on various sites.


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Subject: RE: Dunkirk remembered in song
From: ChanteyMatt
Date: 29 May 10 - 11:33 AM

"Fires of Chalais" gives me the chills as well. This is especially so 'cause I happen to own one of the "Little Ships" that particiapted in Operation Dynamo. Sea Lass is a proud old lady that still rescues us from time to time.


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