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The Harland Road.

GUEST,Mike Yates 17 Oct 13 - 05:01 AM
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Subject: The Harland Road.
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 17 Oct 13 - 05:01 AM

Many years ago I collected a short song from Walter Pardon. The song was called The Harland Road and went like this:

Come and see the Kaiser, all on the Harland Road.
Come to the back and [see?] the place where I abode.
You mustn't touch a rabbit, or anything that's there
'Til up to Harland Sitting, you surely will appear.

Lies when you're sleeping, lies when you're dead.
Lies all around you, lies on your head.
Oh, if you are a liar, you know you're very wrong,
For liar is the Kaiser's song.

Walter sang the words to the tune "Rosalie the Prairie Flower", a song that had been written in 1858 by the American composer George Frederick Root (1820 - 95), who was also known as 'G. Frederick Wurzel', and I included the The Harland Road on the Musical Traditions double-CD set "Put a Bit of Powder on it, Father - the other songs of Walter Pardon" (Musical Traditions MT CD 305-6). I had not been able to trace any other version of the song. Later, in 2007, I put forward a couple of suggestions on the Musical Traditions website, possibly linking the song to the First World War, though others suggested that I could be wrong and that it was a purely local Norfolk song.

My suggestions went as follows:

To begin with, in 1914, men from the Belfast ship making firm of Harland & Wolff joined the Ulster Division, which managed to raise thirteen battalions for the three Irish Regiments - the Royal Enniskillen Fusiliers, the Royal Irish Fusiliers and the Royal Irish Rifles - then based in Ulster. Today there is a rather faded memorial to the Harland & Wolff dead that can be seen attached to the seaward wall of the Thompson Dock pump house in Belfast. During the Great War it was often the case that men from one part of the country, or from one town for that matter, would fight side by side in the same battalion. If the Harland & Wolf volunteers were kept together, then there is a possibility that their trenches could have been known locally as 'the Harland Road'.

My second suggestion concerns events that occurred during the period 9th - 14th April, 1917, at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. There were strong German defences along the ridge and the Germans had repulsed several previous attacks against their positions. However, on the 9th April, 1917, the 46th Canadian Infantry Battalion (South Saskatchewan) - codenamed 'Harland' - attacked the ridge during a particularly thick snowstorm and captured most of the German emplacements. On the 13th April, Canadian soldiers crossed over the ridge and passed through the villages of Angres and Givenchy. They were later relieved by men from the 1st Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. Could it be that these latter men followed the Canadian troops up 'the Harland Road', that had been so-named because of the Canadian's code word?

Now, a good few years later, I am still at a loss to say exactly where this song came from, or what it is actually all about. Can anyone help?


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