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Soldiers songs calling officers

GUEST,In good company 03 Oct 16 - 05:37 AM
Teribus 03 Oct 16 - 06:41 AM
GUEST,In good company 03 Oct 16 - 07:00 AM
Charmion 03 Oct 16 - 07:31 AM
John MacKenzie 03 Oct 16 - 07:37 AM
Jack Campin 03 Oct 16 - 07:46 AM
Teribus 03 Oct 16 - 08:36 AM
GUEST,In good company 03 Oct 16 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,In good company 03 Oct 16 - 01:04 PM
cnd 03 Oct 16 - 01:12 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Oct 16 - 02:35 PM
GUEST,In good company 03 Oct 16 - 02:59 PM
Teribus 03 Oct 16 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,In good company 03 Oct 16 - 05:33 PM
Teribus 04 Oct 16 - 01:40 AM
Dave Hanson 04 Oct 16 - 02:43 AM
GUEST,Bloke in Groucho mask 04 Oct 16 - 02:53 AM
Teribus 04 Oct 16 - 05:02 AM
GUEST,In good company 04 Oct 16 - 06:01 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Oct 16 - 02:35 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Oct 16 - 02:42 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Oct 16 - 02:56 PM
Teribus 04 Oct 16 - 03:00 PM
GUEST,In good company 04 Oct 16 - 03:17 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Oct 16 - 03:40 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Oct 16 - 04:05 PM
GUEST,In good company 04 Oct 16 - 04:10 PM
GUEST,pauperback 04 Oct 16 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,In good company 04 Oct 16 - 05:04 PM
mg 04 Oct 16 - 05:14 PM
mg 04 Oct 16 - 05:15 PM
GUEST,In good company 04 Oct 16 - 05:30 PM
GUEST,pauperback 04 Oct 16 - 08:24 PM
GUEST,pauperback 04 Oct 16 - 09:53 PM
GUEST,In good company 05 Oct 16 - 05:40 AM
GUEST,In good company 05 Oct 16 - 07:25 AM
Charmion 05 Oct 16 - 10:32 AM
Keith A of Hertford 05 Oct 16 - 01:15 PM
Lighter 05 Oct 16 - 01:21 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Oct 16 - 01:22 PM
Teribus 05 Oct 16 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,In good company 05 Oct 16 - 04:08 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Oct 16 - 05:15 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Oct 16 - 06:11 PM
Jeri 05 Oct 16 - 06:38 PM
Teribus 06 Oct 16 - 03:43 AM
Teribus 06 Oct 16 - 05:59 AM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Oct 16 - 06:17 AM
Teribus 06 Oct 16 - 07:38 AM
Lighter 06 Oct 16 - 08:36 AM
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Subject: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 05:37 AM

Elsewhere someone asked for a thread to be started giving examples of songs sung by soldiers that are dismissive of their leaders. The examples given are, and I quote from the other thread,

"Hanging on the old barbed wire" (British Army) - typical example of Forces "Black Humour", same as "An Airman Lay Dying" (Royal Flying Corps), also "Sweeping" (Royal Navy).

Any more? They must be 'of the time' rather than written after the event. The ones above relate to WW1 specifically but I guess any war, or any other situation, will do.


Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Teribus
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 06:41 AM

Now, now Gnome get it right - The examples given are as stated typical examples of British Armed Forces "Black Humour" they are not dismissive of their leaders.

Look up what "Black Humour" means

Black Humour:
"How else could our servicemen and women cope with defence cuts that have reduced the British Army to fewer troops than Sainsbury employs in its shopping aisles but still expect them to fight foreign wars against invisible enemies in the mountains of Afghanistan?"

Black Humour:
"That very British characteristic, which transcends the class divide of officer and men: the ability to crack a joke both at ourselves and our superiors when our backs are against the wall. This is ingrained in our soldiers from their first days on the parade ground to coping with fear and soothing frayed nerves before stepping out on patrol in Helmand.

In truth, the British army is a breeding ground for comedians and the kind of men who, just like Private Baldrick, pick themselves up and smile in the face of adversity."


Famous real life example - Spike Milligan - born into a military family his father was a Royal Artillery Captain serving in the Indian Army. Called up to serve in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War Spike Milligan and fellow musician Harry Edgington would compose surreal stories, filled with puns and skewed logic, as a way of staving off the boredom of life in barracks.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 07:00 AM

In what way are they not dismissive? If someone was to suggest, for instance, that I was sat in a bar enjoying myself while everyone else was doing their job, would that not be dismissive of me or at least my attitude? I know full well what black humour is but I do not see the relevance here. Humour can be a very effective tool in dismissing someone else, or their viewpoint.

Please note though that this is an above the line music thread and not a political soapbox. I am asking for examples of such songs and arguing whether they are such songs or not is probably about as productive as trying to define folk music :-)

Just a thought (to the world in general rather any one person) would any of Kipling's 'Barrack Room Ballads' form part of this discussion? Or, because Kipling was not part of the 'common soldiery' himself would they be discounted? Did the soldiers at the time appreciate Kipling's work or were they not even aware of it? Just wondering.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Charmion
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 07:31 AM

"Hanging on the old barbed wire" criticizes every rank above that of corporal, with the single exception of the lieutenant, who is out on a night patrol. The Canadian version, known as "Has anyone seen the colonel?", is so entrenched (sorry) in our military culture that it became the regimental quick march of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

The OP might take a look at "McCaffery", an English broadside dating from the 1830s. The central character becomes so resentful of a sentence of two weeks CB received at summary trial that he takes a shot at his company commander, but misses and kills the colonel instead. Of course, the song is a prisoner's farewell; he swings for his crime.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 07:37 AM

Bloody Orkney.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 07:46 AM

Did the soldiers at the time appreciate Kipling's work or were they not even aware of it?

They must have been aware of it. In the second hand book trade I probably see more cheap copies of Kipling's verse than any other song and poetry of the late-Victorian/Edwardian period. I haven't found a list of all the editions printed (if anybody's even managed to compile one) - most are cheaply printed and bound and must have been affordable to any literate reader.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Teribus
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 08:36 AM

Anyone looking at "Hanging on the old barbed wire" who has never been in the armed forces and has no military experience or experience of what the anonymous writer of the song experienced may well assume what they like. The song in it's original version (And there are quite a few of them, nobody knows when they appeared) does not refer to Generals, or Colonels, or Privates but runs through the ranks present in the line.

Sergeant
Quartermaster
Sergeant Major
Lieutenant
C.O.
Battalion (And it is the Battalion that is hanging on the old barbed wire - NOT the Privates)

Not dismissive at all - as they were all in it together.

Certainly nothing dismissive related to military leadership in the ditty "Bloody Orkney", so we seem to be creating a list of songs related to the First World War.

No massive list of songs dismissive of the military leadership of armed forces of the First World War at all as inferred in another thread on this forum by someone on a trolling mission - but that was as I suspected.

Kipling? Goal posts changing are they Gnome?


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 08:49 AM

No points to score and therefore no goal posts even erected! I hope to keep this an interesting and civil discussion so I would appreciate a little less unwarranted aggression but if anyone wants to blow off some steam, who am I to stop them :-) As to the maker of exceedingly good cakes I can only refer to the terms of reference in the OP -

"The ones above relate to WW1 specifically but I guess any war, or any other situation, will do."

Very interesting points about 'the old barbed wire'. Can you refer us to a definitive source for the 'original' version you refer to as opposed to any of the of the other 'originals'?

D.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 01:04 PM

Is the poem a genuine piece of forces disrespect? If so, any particular conflict? I would think the ranks mentioned come under the the term 'officer' even if it is non-commissioned so it would fit in with the theme of calling officers.

D.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: cnd
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 01:12 PM

Pete Seeger: Waist Deep in the Big Muddy


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 02:35 PM

If the Sergeant steals your rum, never mind. Have look at any of Nettleingham's books or Tommy's Tunes etc. Roy Palmer's The Rambling Soldier, and What a Lovely War. Martin Page's WWII books and a few lesser known ones, American airmen's etc.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 02:59 PM

In case anyone thinks I have gone daft(er) my question about a poem was in response to an exchange that has disappeared! Something about the Sergeant being a bugger but I'm buggered if I can remember the rest :-)

D


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Teribus
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 03:06 PM

"Oh What A Lovely War" a piece of revisionist crap written long after the end of the First World War as a protest against War in general and against the Vietnam War in particular.

Based on a book of thoroughly dubious historical merit written by Alan Clark that covered only 1915 it was transposed to cover the entire conflict. All done in retrospect on very poor information that we now know to be wrong.

Roy Palmer's Rambling Soldier written in 2008 and viewed through 21st century eyes - what was asked for was work written at the time by those present at the time.

Tommy's Tunes - read this from the introduction to the work:

" By their words shall ye know them," or " By your
words shall ye be judged," are parallel platitudes—yet
think, indulgent reader, how far from accurate would
be your judgment and idea of the British soldier were
you to draw conclusions solely on his songs ! You
would picture a man—yea, an army, nowadays, even
the nation—as lacking in esprit de corps, amour propre,
discipline, or any other of those wise soldierly qualities
without which no collection of free people could stand
the enormities of injustice and voluntary sacrifice
which are demanded over an extended and sustained
period by modern warfare. And you would be wrong

It is a peculiarity of British humour to be derogatory
to its own dignity, to wipe itself in the mud, to affect
self-satire to an alarming extent. Yet woe betide any
foreigner who dares to opine we're not what we think
we are
. The spirit really evinced by these songs, in
spite of their oft-times derogatory purport, is that of a
lofty cynicism and a confirmed fatalism, but real, thick,
unadulterated sarcasm—never.

Regarding the fatalistic tendency shown by Tommy
in all his speech and actions, this will be noticed irre-
spective of his philosophy — Tommy may be Romanist,
Protestant, Wesleyan, Atheist, Theosophist, or Agnostic,
yet one and all betray the same traits and the same
courage
.

Although the great aim of this work is to present and
perpetuate the original and unwritten tunes and rhymes,
it must not be supposed that Tommy taboos any other
sort. Of course, the latest music-hall ditties, with
their swinging tunes, have a great vogue, but the enthu-
siasm soon wears off.

" Tipperary " was never greatly sung. I think it of
interest to place on record how this song has actually
stood in Tommy's estimation and in the favour of the
world. Notwithstanding that it is now sung over five
continents, and that our French friends—most of them
—have Tipperary at their finger tips, and most of the
street urchins and parigots sing it with equal exuberance
in French and English — it was never Tommy's song.


The above seems to back up precisely what I stated earlier.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 03 Oct 16 - 05:33 PM

Roy Palmer is an excellent collector of songs and author of many books but I am unsure what the above quote brings to this thread. The opening post asks quite clearly for songs sung by soldiers that are dismissive of their leaders. We have seen that such songs do exist and three such are quoted from the other thread. Whether they are tongue in cheek or serious, political comment or a joke has no bearing on whether the content of the song itself is dismissive.

Just my opinion of course but, then again, albeit at someone else's request, I did start the thread :-)

D.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Teribus
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 01:40 AM

"The opening post asks quite clearly for songs sung by soldiers that are dismissive of their leaders. We have seen that such songs do exist and three such are quoted from the other thread."

You have seen no such thing in any of the three such songs I mentioned. Then again maybe you could point out where they were dismissive of their leaders.

"Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire" - Trench Life.

"An Airman Lay Dying" - Dangers of flying.

"Sweeping" - The boredom, monotony and dangers involved in mine sweeping.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 02:43 AM

Incidently the song ' McCafferty/ McCaffery ' is a true story, he was hanged in Preston, Lancashire, can't remember the date at the moment but it's not that long ago.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,Bloke in Groucho mask
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 02:53 AM

Songs protesting about the reality of military life and the poor quality of leadership can be found through the ages. To be fair, many are written as serious songs after the event whilst, to quote Ralph Vaughan Williams, they may contain echoes of the parody and dark humour of the enlisted mens' complaints.

However, if I were the one defending the demonstrable poor leadership and inept decision making, I too would take the Gove approach and dismiss "experts." Perhaps Teribus might write a song about officers tucking men up in bed and reading them stories? His defence of the indefensible might have something to hang on to?

This thread reminds me of the government backed broadsheet production in the early 1800s, encouraging men to get a lass pregnant so he has something to fight for and someone to miss him. Sweet William taking his musket fife and drum where our cannon balls do roar seems more palatable if lovely Nancy is bouncing a sprog on her knee.

The noise of jingoism drowned out subversive songs that gave a different view, such as Our Captain Cried All Hands or The White Cockade. (There were no blue cockades at that time.) Johnny I Hardly Knew Yer wasn't exactly what the recruiting sergeants wanted to hear either.

No matter. This isn't about the songs that Dave wishes to discuss, it's about the usual suspects defending the stain on society that is our military's lack of duty of care to its charges through the ages.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Teribus
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 05:02 AM

Hello GUEST, Bloke in Groucho mask, aren't you allowed to post as Musket any more?

So far there have been no songs thrown up that condemn "the poor quality of leadership", but as previously stated here or elsewhere anyone who supports Corbyn hasn't got the foggiest notion what leadership is about - no surprise they probably backed Foot and Kinnock too.

"Teribus might write a song about officers tucking men up in bed and reading them stories?"

No need Musket, already been done. Ever heard of "Kiss me Goodnight Sergeant-Major"?

I also doubt very much if there was ever anytime in history where young men had to be encouraged by any government to get young girls in the family way - your contention is ridiculous.

Alan Taylor's - "Our Captain cried all hands" - no mention of poor leadership.

"White Cockade" - Girl friend left behind cursing the recruiting party that took her lover, no mention of poor leadership.

"Johnny I hardly knew you" - No mention of poor leadership

So with that poor selection Musket I don't know why you bothered mentioning them

I thought that you had claimed to be a Royal Air Force Pilot Officer (E)? If you indeed had been then you would know full well that the military has no "Duty of Care" especially not on active service where they most certainly will order personnel into harms way.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 06:01 AM

To all concerned.

I thought this may happen. Please note this thread is supposed to be about songs sung by soldiers that are dismissive of their leaders. The actual quality of the leadership is not the point. Everyone dismisses their bosses for something whether the bosses deserve it or not. No hidden agenda. Simply that.


Thanks

D.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 02:35 PM

<"Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire" - Trench Life.>

Do you really know this song, T?



No, T, wrong again! The book is a collection of SONGS contemporary to events. Admittedly there are plenty of jingoistic pieces in it, but these certainly weren't written by the rank and file. Try page 41 'The Young Recruit; or, Thirteen Pence a Day' if you can take reality.

v3 Come along, you gaubies, come and be drilled,
By a puppy of a sergeant that's not worth being killed,
You'll be made a corporal if you're a jolly cock;
Come and be a soldier, but be in by eight o'clock.

v5
Remember we are soldiers, the bravest of the brave,
Come and be a soldier, then you'll be a slave,
Come to Colonel White, my lads, but don't pretend to cry
For if you are not happy we can flog you till you die.

Multiple different versions printed in about 1850 and later. 8 other stanzas all on the same theme.

I think 'Arthur McBride' and 'McCaffery' already mentioned, the latter a true story. It will have its own thread.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 02:42 PM

Page 107, 'John White', another true story.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 02:56 PM

Soldiers' songs calling the politicians might make better reading especially under more recent wars.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Teribus
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 03:00 PM

Where in any of that Mr. Gardham is there any mention of poor leadership or criticism of officers?

Same with Arthur McBride.

As for the song McCafferty, if the song is true to the story of Patrick McCaffrey then what tyranny? In what way was McCaffrey treated badly? He was ordered to do something and he did not do it. For that he was "confined to barracks with loss of pay" - McCaffrey then decides to kill - he goes through with it, is apprehended and tried and subsequently hanged for the double murder that he undoubtedly committed (Poor hard done by bastard!!!!).

Nobody seems to be able to find any of this supposed plethora of songs about soldiers criticising poor leadership - wonder why - could one possible reason be that whoever it was came out the statement regarding their existence was talking out of his backside and they simply do not exist?


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 03:17 PM

Thread premise as in the OP

examples of songs sung by soldiers that are dismissive of their leaders.

From the above post

Nobody seems to be able to find any of this supposed plethora of songs about soldiers criticising poor leadership

Little wonder wars begin...

Nowhere in this thread has it been suggested that there are a 'plethora of songs critisising poor leadership'. We are just looking for examples of songs that are dismissive of leaders. Such as suggesting that when there is fighting to be done the General is in the Folies Bergare etc.

Another just came to me as I typed that. Conan Doyle if I remember rightly. Yes. it is :-) Just looked it up

For the Colonel rides before,
The Major's on the flank,
The Captains and the Adjutant
Are in the foremost rank.
But when it's 'Action front!'
And fighting's to be done,
Come one, come all, you stand or fall
By the man who holds the gun.


Pretty dismissive of the upper echelons in my view. The premise of the song, for those unaware, is that during a parade the above occurs. But when there is work to be done, the lad who carries the gun does it.

Ballad of the ranks

D.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 03:40 PM

Ah, I get it now. Sergeants aren't officers at all. The OP should have made that clearer perhaps.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 04:05 PM

Second thread I've read where Teribus has moved in to divert the thread into the kind of bad tempered argument that normally stays below the line.

Obviously the attitudes soldiers had to those in authority varied from admiration and affection to detestation, as is always the case with any kind of authority.

For an indication of the extremes to which that detestation can extend, look up "fragging" on Wikipedia. Any songs about that?


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 04:10 PM

It's what I am trying my best to avoid, Kevin!


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 04:24 PM

Sergeants are officers, non-commissioned officers, in the U.S. referred to as N.C.O.s


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 05:04 PM

They are here in the UK as well, pauperback. One funny thing I heard from my uncle, who was in the Royal Navy, was what they referred to petty officers (Naval NCO's), as small pigs. Petty meaning small, officer meaning pig. Petty Officer = Small pig :-)

I guess we could include this as being dismissive of officers but I have never heard it in a song!

D.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: mg
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 05:14 PM

At least in my day, they were not considered officers, regardless of the title. Warrant officers were considered officers. THey could not use the officer's club.

Do not think that officers did not die. In the Vietnam war they died and died. We went to a dance at Ft. Benning and they told us to be nice to our assigned dates..half of them would not be coming back.

Helicopter pilots..dead.

Infantry officers..dead.

Others..dead. dead. dead.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: mg
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 05:15 PM

NCOs could not use the officers' club. Warrant officers could.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 05:30 PM

No doubt that officers were killed in all conflicts, mg, but that is not the point. We are looking for songs that are dismissive of officers whether they deserve it or not. Maybe you have some examples from the Vietnam war?

D


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 08:24 PM

Not meaning to derail but the last comment was naive

home.mweb.co.za/re/redcap/vietcrim.htm

Uncle Ho the Pusher Man


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 04 Oct 16 - 09:53 PM

So as a matter-of-course when Army
& Marines quit the Air Force begun


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 05 Oct 16 - 05:40 AM

Sorry there is one more point I would make

There is a reason that these posters no longer post as "Musket" and "Dave the Gnome" and have had to resort to GUEST identities.

There is indeed. I have no idea what Musket's is but mine is because I asked to be removed from the members list so I would not be tempted to add to the pointless arguments that go on below the line. That can be corroborated by someone of authority if required. Now that the pointless arguments have been brought upstairs I suppose I will just have to try and steer clear.

Sorry if this does add to it so it will be my last word on the subject here.

D.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 05 Oct 16 - 07:25 AM

Couldn't resist. Sorry

Another derailment :-)


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Charmion
Date: 05 Oct 16 - 10:32 AM

Keith, what part of "Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire" do you not understand? In case you missed it, the song is FIERCELY CRITICAL. Its sentiments were so common among the soldiers that the song spread throughout the Empire in several versions.

If you want to find the Sergeant,
I know where he is, I know where he is, I know where he is.
If you want to find the Sergeant, I know where he is,
He's lying on the canteen floor.
I've seen him, I've seen him, lying on the canteen floor,
I've seen him, I've seen him, lying on the canteen floor.

If you want to find the Quarter-bloke
I know where he is, I know where he is, I know where he is.
If you want to find the Quarter-bloke, I know where he is,
He's miles and miles behind the line.
I've seen him, I've seen him, miles and miles and miles behind the line.
I've seen him, I've seen him, miles and miles and miles behind the line.

If you want the Sergeant-major,
I know where he is, I know where he is, I know where he is.
If you want the Sergeant-major, I know where he is.
He's tossing off the privates' rum.
I've seen him, I've seen him, tossing off the privates' rum.
I've seen him, I've seen him, tossing off the privates' rum.

If you want the C.O.,
I know where he is, I know where he is, I know where he is.
If you want the C.O., I know where he is
He is down in a deep dug-out,
I've seen him, I've seen him, down in a deep dug-out,
I've seen him, I've seen him, down in a deep dug-out.

If you want to find the old battalion,
I know where they are, I know where they are, I know where they are
If you want to find the old battalion, I know where they are,
They're hanging on the old barbed wire,
I've seen 'em, I've seen 'em, hanging on the old barbed wire.
I've seen 'em, I've seen 'em, hanging on the old barbed wire.

The Canadian variant, "Has Anyone Seen the Colonel?" is even more snide, if possible:

Has anyone seen the Colonel?
He's dining with the Brigadier.

Has anyone seen the Major?
He's down in the deep dug-out.

Has anyone seen the Captain?
He's away on six weeks' leave.

Has anyone seen the Subaltern?
He's out on a night patrol.

Has anyone seen the Sergeant-Major?
He's drinking up the Privates' rum.

Has anyone seen the Sergeant?
He's lying on the canteen floor.

Has anyone seen the Corporal?
He's hanging on the old barbed wire.

Has anyone seen the Private?
He's holding up the whole damned line.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 05 Oct 16 - 01:15 PM

My post about why such songs are not found in British Army has been deleted.
It was purely factual, and I wonder what anyone could find to challenge.

"Barbed Wire" pokes fun at everyone and makes no serious point about the leadership.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Oct 16 - 01:21 PM

The general got the Croix de Guerre,
The son of a bitch wasn't even there.
Hinky, dinky....

We haven't seen the sergeant for a hell of a time,
Perhaps he's been blown up by a mine?...

Bless all the admirals in COMAIRSOPAC.
They don't give a shit if we never come back....

Whether mutinous fury or cynical satire depends on the singer.

(The naval aviators who sang about COMAIRSOPAC were themselves officers.)


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Oct 16 - 01:22 PM

Can't see how "Barbed Wire" can be said to be having a go at the privates.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Teribus
Date: 05 Oct 16 - 01:47 PM

I think somewhere on the thread about Audi drivers Charmion you talked about your old Sergeant and your old Corporal teaching you how to drive. So I take it that you unlike most posting here did actually do some time in the military.

That being the case how true to the above was the behaviour of the Officers and NCO's you served under? Your Officers and NCO's were taught by and maintained the traditions by those who went before them, who in turn had been taught by those who had gone before them.

The song is a bit of a humorous dig nothing more, your Canadian version is no more but a bit of the same with the net cast wider.

If you want to take it literally as a condemnation of the leadership then Charmion are you really trying to tell us that out of every rank in the Canadian Army it was only the Corporals that did the fighting and the dying?

In the British version you quote - who is it that constitutes the Battalion? All ranks, officers, NCO and men isn't it?

Nothing more than Forces "Black Humour" describing life in the trenches that are not under attack - note that "trenches" plural - there again like most contributing to this thread you have probably no idea of what that means, how they were organised, or manned during the months when absolutely nothing was happening. British troops did 1 week in the front line out of every 3 months deployed under normal circumstances.

However the best indication of how dismissive the British soldier was of the officers who commanded them is the fact that out of every 1914 combatant power by November 1918 the British, Commonwealth and Empire Armies were the only armed force that had not mutinied.

Best example of British Army "Black Humour" can be found in the pages of the "Wipers Times" Tommy's Front Line Newspaper - a publication that the High Command had they wanted to, or had ever seen the need to, could have ordered it shut down, but they didn't, they fully recognised it for what it was and also recognised it as being excellent for morale. Care to share the name of the equivalent French and German Trench Newspapers?


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: GUEST,In good company
Date: 05 Oct 16 - 04:08 PM

It seems that there has been some heavy deletion of posts. In which case I can only assume that the moderation team are taking an interest and the thread is causing them some work. As the opening poster I can only apologise for causing the team any extra work and propose that, for the benefit of all, that the thread be closed.

Many thanks in advance.

D


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Oct 16 - 05:15 PM

The Royal Artillery

Page: The Songs and Ballads of WWII

I enlisted as a gunner in the King's RA
For four and nine a day, which wasn't too bad pay.
But it's all 'Jump to it', all 'Run there'
All the lousy day and each evening
In the wet canteen we sing this roundelay.

We are tired hands, too tired to even stand,
Our Sergeant major, he's regular twit you see,
And our officers too are the worse I ever knew,
Talk about leaders, they ought to be in feeders,
Oh what shall we do?


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Oct 16 - 06:11 PM

If there were mutinies in most of the armies in the Great War that rather suggests that a normal situation is for relationships between ordinary soldiers and those commanding them to be pretty dodgy.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Jeri
Date: 05 Oct 16 - 06:38 PM

From Buffalo State U

There are quite a few songs here, many of them deliciously profane. The numbers below are references you could look up if you go to the page. (They even have one for "cunt" in case you don't know what one is.)

In my experience, the songs popularly sung were of two main types: 1)those taking the piss out of any authority figure, and 2)disgusting, sweary, filth.

This one disparages officers... and everybody else.

    Oh they say there's a troopship just leaving Bombay 10
    Bound for old Blighty's shore, 11
    Heavily laden with time-expired men
    Bound for the land they adore;
    There's many a twat 12 just finishing his time,
    There's many a cunt signing on;
    You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
    So cheer up my lads, fuck 'em all!

    Chorus: Fuck 'em all!
    Fuck 'em all!
    The long and the short and the tall;
    Fuck all the Sergeants and W.O.l.'s, 13
    Fuck all the corporals and their bastard sons; 14
    For we're saying goodbye to them all,
    As up the C.O.'s arse they crawl; 15
    You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
    So cheer up my lads, fuck 'em all!

The Fleet Air Arm of the British Royal Navy had its own version, as did the U.S. Army Air Force both in World War 2 and in the Korean War.16 Numerous adaptations circulated in the Pacific theatre, including the following. 17

    They called for the army to come to Tulagi, 18
    But Douglas MacArthur 19 said no;
    They said there's a reason,
    It isn't the season,
    Besides there's no USO. 20

    Chorus: Fuck 'em all! Fuck 'em all!
    The long, the short, the tall;
    Fuck all the Pelicans and Dogfaces too, 21
    Fuck all the generals and above all fuck you!
    So we're saying goodbye to them all,
    As back to our foxholes we crawl;
    There'll be no promotion on MacArthur's blue ocean,
    So cheer up Gyrenes, fuck 'em all.

Two additional verses circulating in the Marine Corps were: 22

    They sent for the Navy to come to Tulagi,
    The gallant Navy agreed;
    With one thousand sections
    In different directions,
    My God! What a fucked-up stampede!

    Chorus: Fuck 'em all, etc.

    They sent for the nurses to come overseas,
    The reason was perfectly clear,
    To make a good marriage and push a carriage
    While fucking all hands, my dear!

    Chorus: Fuck 'em all, etc.

Finally a version collected from a G.I. returning from Germany. 23

    Just think of the boys at the front,
    No beer, no whisky, no cunt;
    They sit in their trenches
    And think of their wenches,
    So cheer up, my boys, fuck 'em all! etc.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Teribus
Date: 06 Oct 16 - 03:43 AM

Precisely Jeri - "This one disparages officers... and everybody else.

The song is a parody of the song "Bless 'em all".

What personal attacks anonymous GUEST?


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Teribus
Date: 06 Oct 16 - 05:59 AM

Steve Gardham - 04 Oct 16 - 02:56 PM

"Soldiers' songs calling the politicians might make better reading especially under more recent wars."


Britain's armed forces tend to be a-political and making any political statement is frowned upon. One exception related to what you state above is the WWII song "D-Day Dodgers":

"Now Lady Astor, get a load of this.
Don't stand up on a platform and talk a load of piss.
You're the nation's sweetheart, the nation's pride
We think your mouth's too bloody wide.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in Sunny Italy."


All as a result of:

"A rumour spread during the war that the term was publicized by Viscountess Astor, a Member of the British Parliament, who supposedly used the expression in public after a disillusioned serviceman in Italy signed a letter to her as being from a "D-Day Dodger." However, there is no record that she actually said this, in or out of Parliament, and she herself denied ever saying it.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Oct 16 - 06:17 AM

The song is a parody of the song "Bless 'em all".

I'm pretty certain it's the other way round. Or rather "Bless 'em all" is a modified version of the original, for shockable audiences.


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Teribus
Date: 06 Oct 16 - 07:38 AM

Quite right Kevin, I stand corrected, although the "Fuck 'em all" version was never published or recorded, according to Fred Godfrey/Llewellyn Williams Biography it was:

1917 while with the RNAS in Dunkirk.
"One of the songs he played for them was a little ditty he'd thought up, then promptly forgot about, called Bless 'Em All"

It was much later in November 1940 that George Formby recorded it.

"Godfrey's 1917 composition was a long time percolating, having gradually become, during the interwar years, a kind of unofficial anthem of the RAF, typically sung with scurrilous lyrics as had been the case when Godfrey first wrote it during the earlier war.

When it finally appeared in published form in 1940, having been cleaned up by a couple of staff writers at Keith Prowse Music, it was an immediate and enormous success throughout the English-speaking world. Bless 'Em All became one of the most famous and often-sung songs of the war, and is no doubt Godfrey's biggest hit.

Following on the great success of Bless 'Em All, George Formby decided to record a second version of the song in early 1941, with new lyrics provided by Godfrey."


As he related in a 1941 letter to a British newspaper, he spent much of his time entertaining the troops on the piano, playing his hits and a new song that the boys got a big kick out of, Bless 'Em All — though, as Godfrey primly noted in his letter, the lyric wasn't "Bless." Of course, the song lent itself to endless variations on the theme and was hardly the sort of thing that would have been considered for publication. After the war, the song became a kind of unofficial anthem of the Royal Air Force, the successor to both the RNAS and the Royal Flying Corps, and it was not until 1940 that, with fresh, clean lyrics, it finally appeared in a respectable civilian guise. (Barry Norris - Grandson and Biographer of "Fred Godfrey")


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Subject: RE: Soldiers songs calling officers
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Oct 16 - 08:36 AM

The "Bless 'em All" thread gives extensive information.

Godfrey evidently did write a ditty called "Fuck 'em All" (or perhaps "Sod 'em All"), but there is no record of the original words and no indication (that I can find) that it was known during WW1 outside of his own circle of friends.   

Godfrey, moreover, served in the Royal Naval Air Service, which did not have the Royal Flying Corps/ RAF ranks of "sergeant," "corporal," or "Warrant Officer First Class," all of which feature prominently in the standard refrain.


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