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Origins: Bless 'Em All

DigiTrad:
BLESS 'EM ALL - AIRBORNE
BLESS 'EM ALL - CORVETTES
BLESS 'EM ALL - LANCASTERS
BLESS 'EM ALL - MUSTANG PILOTS
BLESS 'EM ALL - WELLINGTONS
BLESS 'EM ALL (9)
BLESS 'EM ALL (British Army WWII)
BLESS 'EM ALL (USAF Bombadiers WW lI)
BLESS 'EM ALL (USAF-Korea)
BLESS 'EM ALL -U.S. MARINES WWII VERSION
ROB 'EM ALL (NAAFI)


crayon@bcpl.net 04 Dec 99 - 09:25 AM
Jeri 04 Dec 99 - 10:06 AM
toadfrog 31 May 01 - 05:50 PM
Liz the Squeak 31 May 01 - 06:44 PM
Irish sergeant 31 May 01 - 08:09 PM
Amos 31 May 01 - 08:47 PM
paddymac 01 Jun 01 - 04:23 AM
Billy the Bus 01 Jun 01 - 08:46 AM
Les from Hull 01 Jun 01 - 09:07 AM
toadfrog 01 Jun 01 - 10:05 PM
Bert 02 Jun 01 - 12:31 AM
DaveJ 02 Jun 01 - 01:43 AM
DaveJ 02 Jun 01 - 01:47 AM
Billy the Bus 02 Jun 01 - 03:35 AM
Billy the Bus 02 Jun 01 - 04:01 AM
The Walrus 02 Jun 01 - 07:11 AM
Les from Hull 02 Jun 01 - 12:20 PM
toadfrog 02 Jun 01 - 05:38 PM
dick greenhaus 02 Jun 01 - 06:13 PM
Billy the Bus 03 Jun 01 - 02:20 AM
The Walrus 03 Jun 01 - 07:04 AM
Billy the Bus 03 Jun 01 - 09:31 AM
Susan of DT 03 Jun 01 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,Q 10 May 03 - 02:37 PM
GUEST,Q 11 May 03 - 05:12 PM
musicmick 12 May 03 - 02:38 AM
GUEST,Lighter 12 May 03 - 02:36 PM
Gareth 12 May 03 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,Q 12 May 03 - 03:40 PM
GUEST,Q 12 May 03 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,Barry 07 Aug 05 - 10:40 AM
Abby Sale 07 Aug 05 - 11:03 AM
Nigel Parsons 07 Aug 05 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Lighter at work 08 Aug 05 - 08:27 AM
GUEST,Barry 09 Sep 05 - 01:43 PM
Megan L 09 Sep 05 - 02:13 PM
Lighter 09 Sep 05 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,Barry 09 Sep 05 - 08:56 PM
Megan L 10 Sep 05 - 10:45 AM
Lighter 10 Sep 05 - 10:53 AM
GUEST,Barry 10 Sep 05 - 06:02 PM
Leadfingers 10 Sep 05 - 07:10 PM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Sep 05 - 07:48 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Sep 05 - 08:36 PM
GUEST,Brian Hermann 14 Jun 06 - 04:52 AM
magician 14 Jun 06 - 08:52 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Jun 06 - 02:53 PM
GUEST,Nan 22 May 07 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,Nan 22 May 07 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,Lighter 22 May 07 - 12:04 PM
GUEST,Lee Tomkins (Ex 205 Squadron0 17 Jul 07 - 08:24 PM
iancarterb 18 Jul 07 - 12:51 AM
GUEST,Lighter at Work 19 Jul 07 - 09:37 AM
GUEST,Lee T 21 Jul 07 - 10:36 PM
GUEST,MiltonAlumni 04 Aug 07 - 11:52 PM
robomatic 05 Aug 07 - 01:02 AM
GUEST,Dudley Baker 205 Sqn 31 Dec 07 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Dudley Baker 205 Sqn 03 Jan 08 - 12:04 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Jan 08 - 10:46 PM
GUEST,Dudley Baker 205 Sqn 07 Jan 08 - 04:19 AM
GUEST,Bob Thompson 15 Jan 08 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,LIighter at work 16 Jan 08 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Ott in Pennsy 29 Jun 09 - 02:08 AM
GUEST 29 Jun 09 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,Lee Haviland 07 Nov 09 - 06:22 PM
Steve Gardham 08 Nov 09 - 11:19 AM
MGM·Lion 08 Nov 09 - 12:59 PM
MGM·Lion 08 Nov 09 - 01:14 PM
MGM·Lion 08 Nov 09 - 01:19 PM
MGM·Lion 14 Nov 09 - 01:11 AM
GUEST,Flash 14 Dec 09 - 11:24 AM
GUEST,ewaboy 11 Jun 10 - 01:42 PM
Jim Dixon 25 Mar 11 - 11:38 AM
Jim Dixon 25 Mar 11 - 12:17 PM
Joe_F 25 Mar 11 - 03:34 PM
Jim Dixon 25 Mar 11 - 06:56 PM
GUEST,ROY SULLIVAN 09 Jul 11 - 07:28 PM
Rumncoke 10 Jul 11 - 07:09 PM
Rob Naylor 29 Dec 11 - 03:52 AM
MGM·Lion 29 Dec 11 - 04:19 AM
Lighter 29 Dec 11 - 05:22 PM
Rob Naylor 10 Jan 12 - 08:27 AM
MGM·Lion 10 Jan 12 - 10:51 AM
Lighter 07 Oct 16 - 07:34 AM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Oct 16 - 08:04 AM
Lighter 07 Oct 16 - 09:16 AM
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Subject: BLESS 'EM ALL (USAF Bombadiers WW lI)
From: crayon@bcpl.net
Date: 04 Dec 99 - 09:25 AM

BLESS 'EM ALL (USAF Bombadiers WW lI) The tune above had 'the usual lyrics,' or some such note for its chorus. Where, oh where is this ditty in your huge DB. TNX Greg in baltimore, md.


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Subject: RE: BLESS 'EM ALL (USAF Bombadiers WW lI)
From: Jeri
Date: 04 Dec 99 - 10:06 AM

There are 10 versions here. Number 8 is perhaps the one you're looking for? (I typed "[bless 'em all]' into the search box.)


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Subject: Bless 'em All
From: toadfrog
Date: 31 May 01 - 05:50 PM

This is about the version which begins:

There's many a troopship just leaving Bombay
Bound for old Blighty's shore.


Note
(1)The words are not about World War II. They are about life of a British soldier in India, and the language ("heavily laden with time expired men") could have been written by Rudyard Kipling. "Time expired" is not U.S. Army jargon, it is British, and the idea of a troopship full of time expired men has nothing whatsoever to do with World War II, where everyone was in for the duration. So why does everyone assume the song was written for WWII, or maybe WW I?

2. Two sites on line attribute the song to "Jimmy Huges and Frank Lane," whoever they are. Those sites also make the song be about an "airman," and otherwise indicate they are not to be taken seriously.

(3) Once, (maybe around say, 1970) someone overheard me singing the song, tapped me on the shoulder, and identified it as (Spanish Title). I said, no, I was singing ___________, and he said he knew, but all those military versions copied the Spanish song, whose title he translated as "I Like Them All."

Is anyone familiar with such a Spanish (or Mexican, Argentine , Cuban) song, with such a title and such a tune? And when it was popular.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 31 May 01 - 06:44 PM

It's the sentiment, Bless 'em all, meaning keep them all safe, regardless of height, etc. that makes it such a popular song. It was written about career soldiers who went off to India to help guard the East India Co. who controled much of the country.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 31 May 01 - 08:09 PM

It is associated with World War Two because it was introduced to the American forces stationed there by our British Allies. At least, that's why it is assumed to be a WWII song, My uncle taught it to me and I have lyrics for a couple of versions of it. If any one is interested. Kindest Reguards, Neil


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Amos
Date: 31 May 01 - 08:47 PM

I learned it as a bawdy number on the subject of the wide variety of feminine companionship experienced by the doughty (and testosterone-toxic) singer.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: paddymac
Date: 01 Jun 01 - 04:23 AM

The first version I ever heard was sung by Oscar Brand. If it turns out to be of Spanish origin, it could well have come stateside with american veterans of the Spanish civil war. From a phoakie's perspective, whatever its origin, it has a very singable melody and meter, and is therefore a readily available "platform" for any number of lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Billy the Bus
Date: 01 Jun 01 - 08:46 AM

G'day toadfrog,

"Bless 'em All" predates "American" involvement in either World War - and may be Kipling - English Music hall, anyway.

And your shoulder-tapper....:)

I assume the person who tapped you on the shoulder in 1970 (aged-then ca 50-70yrs were they?) was thinking of the "Spanish Civil War" - bet there were virgins flying around then (of the song that is).

Stick to yer guns cobber - and your original premise.

Sing the song out loud - it's a goodun'

If you want a Kiwi version - I have one

Sam


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Les from Hull
Date: 01 Jun 01 - 09:07 AM

This song (words and tunes) are very much in the style of the English Music Hall. Many music hall songs went into the army, and often the words were changed.

Many songs and parodies of songs were sung in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, and it may be that the 'airman' connection comes in there.

It may be worth checking up on WO1 (warrent officer first class). I'm not sure when this was first used as an army rank - I believe that it would include Regimental Sergeant Major etc.

'This side of the ocean' only really makes sense with the troopship home from Bombay version, and is common to most (later?) versions. It certainly wasn't so easy to be promoted in India, you were easily overlooked by your parent organisation for promotion.

So my best guess is 'English Music Hall, 1880s or 90s. But that's still a guess.

Les


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: toadfrog
Date: 01 Jun 01 - 10:05 PM

Thanks Les from Hull. I generally agree the song has to be British. Is there anything on line that relates to English music hall tunes? I think very likely a lot of familiar songs come from there, but there seems to be no way to check. (We Americans had no "airmen" in WW II; was that term actually used in the Royal Flying Corps?)

I very much doubt this oringinated in Spanish Civil War. I was thinking more of one of those many popular songs that used to come out of places like Cuba - non military songs about women.

A little like Amos's songs, which I'd be v. much interested in hearing - they sound like more chips off the same block.

G'day to your, Billy the Bus. I think we are badly in need of a Kiwi virgin. Please, lets have it! (Her?)


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Bert
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 12:31 AM

Er, Hum, No one has yet mentioned that the line is a euphemism for the expression "Fuck 'em all".

I think Toadfrog is right and the song predates WWII. It is associated with it because there was a popular version of it then.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: DaveJ
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 01:43 AM

This Site makes the following statement:
Bless'em All was first introduced in England around 1916 by Fred Godfrey. The "soldiers" version was seldom heard in civilized areas and Jimmy Hughes introduced the "decent" version in 1940. There had never really been a set of appropriate words with this tune until then. This version of Bless em'All could be openly sung in loud voices with little chance of reprisal. The music was composed by Frank Lake. Although this song is regarded as a World War II song, it's earliest associations are with the Royal Naval Air Service. In some versions, it became the unofficial Royal Air Force song in the years between the wars.
Clearly this music has been through the 'folk' process. Nobody noses for sure who wrote the 'original' version and the lyric have been modified frequently to fit the situation. Does anyone know anything about Fred Godfrey?

DaveJ


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: DaveJ
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 01:47 AM

Geez...can you tell it's 1:50 am? My 'noses' seems to 'knows' it. Yawn. Still learning to edit in this small window.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Billy the Bus
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 03:35 AM

Les, it seems there's a hull of a lot of Catters in Hull..;)

WO1 = RSM - WO2 was CSM Company Sergeant Major. The rank dates dates back to India and other Colonial days. Predates the "flyboys" of RFC.

RSM was God - only outranked by Commissioned Officers, like Generals and higher (and then only if they had proved themselves). Umm...

I am NOT going to get sidetracked with Army recollections..

Kiwi Virgin of F'em All will beposted soon.

Sam


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Subject: Lyr Add: FUCK 'EM ALL (Kiwi version)
From: Billy the Bus
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 04:01 AM

Here's the Kiwi Virgin

WWII origin - we had some Kiwi soldiers stationed in Fiji - getting grumpy, 'cos they were missing out on the real scraps. I've got the words of another song about the {NZ} Army in Fiji if anyone wants 'em...

Anyway...

The Kiwi virgin of B***/F*** 'EM ALL from WWII

1. Oh they say there's a troopship just leaving Fiji,
Bound for New Zealand's shore.
Heavily laden with time-expired men,
Bound for the land they adore.
There's many a soldier Just finishing his time,
There's many a mug signing on,
You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up, my lads, **** 'em all.

CHORUS: **** 'em all, - **** 'em all.
The long and the short and the tall,
**** all the sergeants and WO1's,
**** all the corporals and their ****ing sons,
For we're saying goodbye to them all,
As up the cook's backside (?) they crawl,
You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up my lads, **** them all.

2. Oh a mighty fine ship on the ocean she flits,
Sailing by night and by day.
When she's in motion she's the pride of the ocean,
You can't see her backside for spray.
Oh side, side Monowai's side,
The captain looks on her with pride.
He'd have a blue fit, if he saw any shit
On the side of the Monowai's side.

3. This is my story, this is my song,
We've been in Fiji too ****ing long
Roll out the Rodney, salvage the Hood
For our merchant navy is no ****ing good
lsa Lei, Isa Lei,
From Auckland to Suva's a ****ing long way.


Ummm....

You lot aren't going to believe this, but while formatting the above - our "National Wireless" Sat Nite request came up with...

Allan Breeze (?sp) and the Billy Cotton Band -
with a WWII virgin of "Quartermasters Store"

No lie....l)

Sam


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: The Walrus
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 07:11 AM

Roy Palmer ("What a Lovely War")states: "...Lewis Winstock's Chelsea Pensioners told him that the song [Bless 'em All] was current in the army by the last decade of the nineteenth century. However, C.H. Ward-Jackson suggested that it, 'or rather a version not intended for publiction', was written in 1916 by one Fred Godfrey, while he was a member of the Royal Naval Air Service. It seems more likely that Godfrey was merely writing down a sond which was in circulation among servicemen in his day.
In turn, Jimmy Hughes and Frank Lake were responsible for an arrangement which became popular with civilians.... Soldiers sang both sanitised and scurrilous words, depending on the the company in which they found themselves. There were versions for sailors, paratroops....bomber pilots...and coastal command flyers. Canadian soldiers sang it. So did Americans, and continued to do so through the Korean War and into the late 1950s at least....."

Billy the Bus, The one of the best descriptions of the position of the RSM I'd heard of came in a spoof order which simply read

"Henceforth the Colonel will stand at God's Right hand (RSM to parade on Colonel's left)"

Good luck.

Walrus


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Les from Hull
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 12:20 PM

Just to tie up one or two loose ends. The Royal Naval Air Service was the Navy's Air Arm, up to 1918 when it joined with the Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force. In the UK Bless 'em all was often an airmens' song.

Airman was a rank in the RFC and I think it still is in the RAF.

The Kiwi version is interesting, Sam, dating from post-1941 when the Hood was sunk. In the Royal Navy there were words of 'Roll on the Rodney the Hood and Renown, this four-funnel bastard is getting me down' referring to ex-US lend-lease destroyers. Now that version must be about late 1940 early 1941, when the first lend-lease detroyers came into service and before the Hood blew up.

There must be many personalised versions throughout the Allied forces of WW2, so personalised that everyone knew it was 'their song'. What a fascinating thread.

Les


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: toadfrog
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 05:38 PM

O.k. Fred Godfrey was Band-Master of the Coldstream Guards, and is credited with composing "TAKE ME BACK TO DEAR OLD BLIGHTY" (1916), as well as the "Bon Soir Galop" and "Hello, Little Miss U.S.A." (1913). Clearly a Britisher with some U.S. copyrights. Is there any source that would tell us about his British copyrights or other publications? It sounds like he was a well-known music hall composer who was called up and given rank to perform the same services for the military. There must be more on him out there!


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 06:13 PM

Does anyone know the infantry WWII version called the Mortar Song?

".....as long as it lasted
The pig-iron bastard
The best friggin' gun of 'em all!..."


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Billy the Bus
Date: 03 Jun 01 - 02:20 AM

Have just discovered a NAAFI version "Rob 'em All" will scan it in if anyone's interested

Sam


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: The Walrus
Date: 03 Jun 01 - 07:04 AM

Billy the Bus,

"Rob 'Em All" ? Go for it, scan away.

Toadfrog,

"Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty" Written and composed by A.J.Mills, Fred Godfrey and Bennett Scott.
Copyright 1916 B.Feldman & Co. Ltd. London
I believe the copyright is now owned by EMI - at least they published the book I got the details from ("Oh It's A Lovely War", EMI, London, 1978, ISBM 0 86175 007 1).
On the subject of "Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty" , how about a Canadian version (from "Canadian Soldiers' Song Book" published by the YMCA during the Great War)

Take Me Back to Dear Canada - TUNE: "Cheers"

Take Me Back to Dear Canada,
Put me on the boat for old St. John,
Take me over there, drop me anywhere,
Toronto, Hull or Montreal, well I don't care.
I should love to see my best girl,
Cuddling up again we soon should be, Whoa,
Tiddley, iddley ighty, I'd sooner be there than Blighty,
Canada is the place for me.

Doubtless this song was heard much in Wales in 1919 when the Canadians were stationed there and couldn't get home.


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Subject: Lyr Add: ROB 'EM ALL
From: Billy the Bus
Date: 03 Jun 01 - 09:31 AM

Rob 'em All =========== This song was believed to have been written in the NAAFI accounts department in Ismailia, on the Suez Canal, for the girls behind the counter to sing.

We are the NAAFI girls. warriors all,
The RASC/EFI,
Heavily laden with ill-gotten gains,
We came here to do not to die.
Once we were honest, but those days are gone,
The NAAFI has been our downfall,
We'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
Let's make what we can - rob 'em all.

Chorus:

Rob 'em all, rob 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall,
Rob every sergeant and WO1,
Rob every corporal, show favour to none,
Oh, we'll rob every private in call,
We'd even rob General de Gaulle,
Our graft's systematic and quite democratic,
Shmw favour to none, rob 'em all.

We came out to Egypt to sell cups of tea,
To charge half an acker's a shame,
There's some like it strong and there's some like if weak,
But they all get it served up the same.
We're free with hot water but tight with the tea,
The mixture's too feeble to crawl,
We always rake off it, at least half the profit,
Show favour to none, rob 'em all.

Chorus:

Our rissoles are famous from Cairo to Cape,
We serve them from morning to night,
We serve them to servicemen serving abroad,
If they eat them it just serves them right,
We serve them with vigour, we serve them with Vim,
We serve them with might and with main,
Then we scrape up the drips of the rissoles and chips,
And we hash 'em and serve 'em again.

Chorus

Source: The Songs and Balllads of Word War II, Martin Page, 1973, Hart-Davis McGibbon Ltd.

Cheers - Sam


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Susan of DT
Date: 03 Jun 01 - 11:26 AM

Liked the NAAFI lyric so much that they've been in DigiTrad for years. You can find no fewer than 10 versions of Bless 'Em All there.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 10 May 03 - 02:37 PM

The "Airman's Song Book," Collected, Edited and with an Introduction and Explanatory Notes by C. H. Ward-Jackson, Music Edited by Leighton Lucas, Revised Ed., 1967, offers this explanation (already noted in part by Toadfrog):
"Many of these songs were not so much composed as evolved over a long period and often in various places. Most people would say (for example) that "Bless 'Em All" dates from the second World War and they probably would not particularly connect it with flying. Yet it has been the unofficial trooping song of the R. A. F. from the beginning in 1918. During the broadcast of the R. A. F.'s 25th birthday anniversary celebrations in 1943 Mr S. P. B. Mais (ex-R.F.C.) pointed out that it originated in the Royal Navy Air Service, written in 1916 by Fred Godfrey. That version was not for publication [Fuck 'Em All] and it was unknown to the public till the late 1930's when it appeared in a completely clean pinafore. Meanwhile, airmen had put all kinds of words to it, the essence of which is not unfairly reflected in the published version." Pages xiii and 136 (Bomber version, WW2).

Original(?) words to "Fuck 'Em All" in thread 10366, Guest Q: WW2 Songs
A version close to the original in thread 3282, Guest L: Veterans' Day

This book has all of the old airman's songs, including "Who Killed Cock Robin" and The Mountains of Morne," as well as "The Ragtime Flying Corps" from the 1916 period.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 11 May 03 - 05:12 PM

Please return to music threads.

Lyr. Add: ROB 'EM ALL
Lyr. Add: BLESS 'EM ALL (Kiwi version)
Lyr. Add: TAKE ME BACK TO DEAR OLD CANADA


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: musicmick
Date: 12 May 03 - 02:38 AM

While "Bless 'Em All" may go back to God knows when, it is a real folk song in that it was and is used with new lyrics for new wars.
The version that I like best is from the Korean "police action". Here's a typical verse.

Oh, we sent for the army to come to Korea
But General MacArthur said, "No!"
He said, "There's a reason,
It isn't the season,
Besides, you've got no USO"
Bless 'em all. Bless 'em all,
The army they sure dropped the ball.
They know all the answers on how to withdraw
They're the runningest bastards that we ever saw,
So, we're saying goodbye to them all,
As back to the Yalu we crawl.
Where the snow is ass deep to a man in a jeep
But who's got a jeep, bless 'em all.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 12 May 03 - 02:36 PM

A partially similar Korean War text appears in Robert Leckie's book "The March to Glory," concerning U.S. Marines at the Reservoir in the winter of 1950-51.

The lines about MacArthur are left over from the Tulagi version of the song, evidently composed in the Pacific in 1942. Oscar Brand recorded his own version (with only a few changes) on the 1960 LP "Tell It to the Marines."


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Gareth
Date: 12 May 03 - 03:20 PM

Mmmm ! I missed this thread last time around but the Kiwi version ( see Bob the Bus posts) seem to amalgamate 2 sepperate Forces songs.

First of all - "Bless 'em All"

and a RN lowerdeck song

Now if you can get copies of "A Steady Trade" and "Hearts of Oak" the autobiography of Tristam Jones from yer libuary you should find the words, and versions of this and other Mess Deck songs.

Les from Hull is on the right track with his post. I can recall varients of these being sung by ex Matloes.

A version I think I remember goes

"This my story, this is my song,
I've been in the Navy to F*****g long,
So roll on the Nelson, Rodney, Renown,
You can't get the Hood 'cos the B*****d's gone down"

I also think that there were varients on the line :-

" This four funnel b*****d is getting me down"

For four substitute the funnels that whatever you were serving had. i.e. Corvete - One, County Class Cruiser Three etc.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 12 May 03 - 03:40 PM

The version that was popularized and sung by civvies during WW2 was copyrighted by Jimmie Hughes and Frank Lake in 1940, as has been noted before. Several parodies also have been copyrighted. See thread 10366 for comments and the original 1916 version by Fred Godfrey (not copyrighted, and not published because of the content). World War II

As far as I know, all of the military unit versions are free and clear. Here is the Coastal Command version:

Lyr. Add: BLESS 'EM ALL (Coastal Command)

There's many a Hudson just leaving Norway
Bound for old Iceland's shore,
Heavily laden with terrified men
Scared stiff and prone on the floor.
There's many a Heinkel a'pumping out lead,
And many a Messerschmidt too,
They shot off our panties,
And mucked up our scanties,
So cheer up, my lads, Bless 'Em All.

From "Airman's Song Book," ed. C. H. Ward-Jackson and Leighton Lucas, 1967 rev. ed., p. 136, Blackwood and Sons, Ltd..


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 12 May 03 - 03:50 PM

Oops, forgot the 2nd verse of the Coastal Command version. It was written by Corporal J. Holdsworth and sung in a fighter station revue in 1940.

Lyr. Add: BLESS 'EM ALL
(Coastal Command verse 2)

A few Q. D. M's and jolly good luck
Brought us back to ond Iceland's shore.
The cloud it was ten-tenths right down on the deck,
And tried very hard to be more.
The ruddy Controllers are driving me mad,
They don't know a map from a chart,
They sit swilling tea, bawling rubbish at me,
They wince at the flight of a dart.
They think that a sextant's a man of the Church,
And a bearing's a little steel ball.
If you talk about bomb-sight
They think you're half tight
'Cos bombs ain't got no eyes at all.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Barry
Date: 07 Aug 05 - 10:40 AM

Here is what might be the real last word on Bless 'Em All, since the song was written by my grandfather, the British Music Hall composer Fred Godfrey (1880-1953) -- not Fred Godfrey the band master. For the complete story, I invite you to visit the website I very recently posted, http://www.fredgodfreysongs.ca. Go to "All the Known Fred Godfrey Songs" in the menu and follow the links from the list of his greatest hits. Cheers!


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Abby Sale
Date: 07 Aug 05 - 11:03 AM

GUEST,Barry; The bawdy or the parlor version? Or both?


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 07 Aug 05 - 11:59 AM

Gareth (12 May '03)
The words quoted:
""This my story, this is my song,
I've been in the Navy to F*****g long,
So roll on the Nelson, Rodney, Renown,
You can't get the Hood 'cos the B*****d's gone down"
"

Would seem more likely to be set to the hymn Blessed Assurance

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Lighter at work
Date: 08 Aug 05 - 08:27 AM

Last Aug. 21 I posted the following to another thread:

"Hey, big breakthrough in "Bless 'em All" studies! Head for the Library of Congress's "American Memory" page and navigate to Captain Leighton Robinson's performance of a 19th C. music-hall song called "A-Roodle-Tum-Toodle-Tum-Too." Robinson learned the song on his first voyage to sea -- in 1888."

The "breakthrough" here is that a chunk of the distinctive "Bless 'em All" tune goes back to the 1880s. This could explain why the Chelsea pensioners placed the song in the 19th C.

I'm very curious as to why Godfrey didn't publish his song in 1917, what the lyrics actually were, and why, as GUEST Barry observes at his website, Godfrey's name "never appears" as a co-author.

If Fred Godfrey really was the genius behind "Bless 'em All," he deserves credit, but given the wispiness of the evidence, documentation of Godfrey's lyrics is crucial. And is there any documentary proof that the song was sung "underground" for 22 years from 1918 - 1940 ?

The situation is even more curious since there seems to be no doubt whatever that Godfrey wrote - and was credited with - the other songs listed at the website, none of which became as big a hit as "Bless 'em All" !

What were those 1917 lyrics ?


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Barry
Date: 09 Sep 05 - 01:43 PM

I grant that some considerable mystery surrounds my grandfather's most famous song (though, in Britain, "Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty" ranks among the immortals, too). I have listened to the Library of Congress recording, at Guest Lighter at Work's suggestion. There is a resemblance for a couple of bars (the part that in the printed lyrics goes "They say there's a troopship that's leaving Bombay") but thereafter it veers off. Not enough, I argue, to credit the earlier song as the origin of Godfrey's tune. That is not to say, however, that Godfrey couldn't have borrowed from an earlier source -- happens all the time. For that matter, a line in "Old Sailor", a 1936 song by Godfrey and Jimmy Kennedy, shows up virtually intact in Irving Berlin's "White Christmas", but I wouldn't claim partial authorship of the latter song by Godfrey nor would I accuse Berlin of stealing it.

Why Godfrey's name doesn't appear on printed sheet music of "Bless 'Em All" is a big puzzle -- all the composing rights societies credit him nonetheless, and someone in the family (not me) has been collecting the royalties all these years. Why, indeed, didn't he publish the thing in 1917 or thereabouts? And what were the original lyrics? I've no idea, but I'm certainly glad to know that there is some interest in discovering the true story behind "Bless 'Em All," and if it turns out that my grandfather didn't write the thing after all, I promise to be gracious about it!

, and I


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Megan L
Date: 09 Sep 05 - 02:13 PM

we are some of the Vindy boys
we are some of the boys
we know our manners
we flog our fags for tanners
we are respected where er we go
and as we go marching along the street
all the doors and windows open wide
open wide
all the lads and lassies cry
the vindy boys are passing by
we are somne of the boys

Bless em all
bless em all
as of of the vindy we crawl
you wont get to heaven
this side of the severn
so chear up me lads bless em all



the vindy was the Vindycattericks training ship for the merchant navy


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Sep 05 - 03:56 PM

Very nice, Megan L ! When was this song sung ?

Barry, I wasn't suggesting that Fred Godfrey "stole" the melody, merely that there was an undeniable similarity of the sort that could lead someone, years after hearing it, to believe that it was "Bless 'Em All."

Have a look at Q's post from May 10, 2003, just above. The quote also appears in the 1945 first edition of the book. The bracketed words, however, are Q's.

Like him, I have always assumed that "not for publication" means "unprintably bawdy," but that may not be the case. Maybe it means "for performance in a local skit and with so many topical and personal references as to be of no interest to the public."

Such an interpretation is at least possible, though even as I write I must say it seems unlikely.

Barry, am I right in thinking that your relative has drawn a blank on the "original" version as well ?

If I ever come across another reference to the singing of "Bless 'Em All" before 1940, I promise to post it here. But I've been watching for one since 1967 !


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Barry
Date: 09 Sep 05 - 08:56 PM

Hi, Lighter. I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I thought you had accused Godfrey of stealing the thing. That certainly wasn't my intention, and I would love to get to the bottom of the mystery.

I am familiar with the quote from The Airman's Song Book -- I came across it years ago and it forms part of what little I have in the way of corroborative evidence of Godfrey's association with the song.

As for what my relative might know about the issue, I couldn't say. He's a much older cousin, now in his seventies, presumably living somewhere in England, but we've been out of touch with him for decades. I have tried to contact him through the Performing Right Society (which won't divulge his address), but he refuses to answer my hails. Perhaps there is some old family wound that hasn't healed that I don't know about -- it may well have to do with fights over royalties by Godfrey's children after his death in 1953. My mother (Godfrey's youngest) certainly didn't inherit them, and we emigrated to Canada in 1954, so we were out of the picture. Ironically, I'm now the only one in the family who's interested in Godfrey and his career -- hence the website -- and all the principals involved are long since dead.

Incidentally, since Godfrey was serving with the RNAS in 1917 when he supposedly wrote the song, and since he also absolutely hated being in uniform even though he was never anywhere near any fighting, it may well be that the scurrilous lyrics originated with him.

As for why it wasn't published at the time, I could conjecture that, with so many hundreds of songs already under his belt, including many big Music Hall hits, he may well have tossed off "Bless 'Em All" for "local" consumption, as it were, and thought no more about it. But if it did become popular in the RAF during the interwar years, as is claimed, why wouldn't Godfrey have gotten wind of it and seen to its publication much earlier than 1940? Beats me!


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Megan L
Date: 10 Sep 05 - 10:45 AM

Lighter my brother was on the vindy in the 50s, this might have been a cleaned up version for mum :)


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Sep 05 - 10:53 AM

Barry, do you know where Godfrey was stationed with the RNAS/RAF ? If it was India, that would be strong evidence that in one form or another the first stanza about "a troopship leaving Bombay" was originally his. If not, no conclusion could be drawn.

If the song was written in 1917-18 far away from London, it may have been in circulation in a limited way within the RAF between the wars. If the title and chorus contained a four-letter word as well, there would be little chance of its appearing in print during that period, and limited circulation would also make it unlikely that a later memoir could be found mentioning its existence in the '20s or '30s. So one big problem in the song's history may be dealt with by assuming that the song's "folk" currency before 1940 has simply been overstated. It didn't have to be "the unofficial trooping song of the RAF" until 1940 in order to have enjoyed a minor underground existence before that.

Elaborate conjecture is usually a waste of time, but I can't resist in this case. Godfrey, in 1917, could have written a song much like
that copyrighted in 1940, but with the familiar F-word in the title and chorus. It may well have been, then, that either he decided not to pursue publication simply because he thought of the song as something of a topical throwaway and didn't think of replacing the offending word with "Bless." Or, if he did think of it, publishersmay have rejcted the composition because the war was over, India was far away, and there was probably no market for it.

Twenty-odd years later, Keith Prowse published a rewrite and elaboration of what they thought was an unprintable, public domain song. Getting wind of it, Godfrey (and his lawyer) proved to KP's satisfaction that he was the composer and deserving of a share of the royalties. He might have done so with by showing a copy of his original score, with or without the lyrics. For whatever reason, Godfrey agreed that he need not be credited on the sheet music.

For KP to start paying royalties, they must have been convinced that Godfrey was the original author.

Your website, BTW, looks like an excellent resource on neglected pop composer !


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Barry
Date: 10 Sep 05 - 06:02 PM

Lighter, according to his service record, Godfrey spent his days in uniform at a couple of airship bases in the south of England and at Dunkirk. To my knowledge he never went further afield. Of course, like most tunesmiths from Tin Pan Alley (or Denmark Street, or whatever the British equivalent is), he also wrote songs about Dixie and all sorts of other places he'd never laid eyes on; "Mulligatawny, Where The Soup Comes From" is a typical example. So I'm not sure we can read much into the lyrics, except that his experience in the military was unhappy enough that I can well imagine his using the F-word to express his frustration about being there.

At the same time, my guess is that Godfrey's contribution may have been more the music than the lyrics, which doubtlessly evolved according to time and place. The many different clever versions that were created post-1940 are testament to the song's malleability.

Your suggestion re: Keith Prowse seems quite plausible to me. If he'd had a copy of the original score, I wonder if it still exists and where it might be? Certainly, no such memorabilia has survived in the hands of his offspring here in Canada.

Thanks for the kind words about the website. I hope it inspires others on the many now-forgotten pop composers. The British ones, in particular, have been overlooked, as I note on the site.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Sep 05 - 07:10 PM

When I was in the RAF I collected several verses , some from George Formby and some in NAAFI Bar Song Sessions . Here's a British Korean war version , and a verse from 205 squadron in Singapore .

The Reds have a very fine kite so they say
This we no longer doubt
If you're in Korea with a MIG up your rear
This is the way to get out
Stay cool , calm , and sedate , mate
Dont let your British blood boil
Dont hesitate , slam it straight through the gate
And smother the bastard with oil .

Shackletons dont bother me
Shackletons dont bother me
Clapped out contraptions with flaps on their wings
Rattling engines with no piston rings
And the bomb loads so piddling small
Three fifths of five eighths of Sod All
But you'll get no promotin this side of the ocean
So cheer up my lads . bless em all


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Sep 05 - 07:48 PM

Thanks

I wondered where that expression my father used - "Three fifths of five eighths of Sod All" came from - my father would never explain.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Sep 05 - 08:36 PM

The "Airman's Song Book" has a Coastal Command Version from WW2:

There's many a Hudson just leaving Norway
Bound for old Iceland's shore,
Heavily laden with terrified men
Scared stiff and prone on the floor.
There's many a Heinkel a'pumping out lead,
And many a Messerschmidtt too,
They shot off our panties,
And mucked up our scanties,
So cheer up, my lads, Bless 'Em All.

A few Q. D. M.'s and some jolly good luck
Brought us back to old Iceland's shore.
The cloud it was ten-tenths right down on the deck,
And tried very hard to be more.
The ruddy controllers are driving me mad,
They don't know a map from a chart,
They sit swilling tea, bawling rubbish at me,
They wince at the flight of a dart.
They think that a sextent's* a man of the Church,
And a bearing a little steel ball.
If you talk about bomb-sight
They think that you're half tight
'Cos bombs ain't got no eyes at all.
(* spellings not altered)


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Brian Hermann
Date: 14 Jun 06 - 04:52 AM

At the beginning of WW2 songs like this suddenly came out of retirement. I was nine at the time but I have a terrific recollection that the line about "Corporals and their blinking sons" was alleged to be about an actual Corporal who had a son in the same regiment and got picked up on by an Army PR man of the day, and featured in Picture Post. I can even see in my mind's eye the two of them peering out of a ship's porthole, in Picture Post.
Am I dreaming, or does anyone know why a Corporal rates a mention?


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: magician
Date: 14 Jun 06 - 08:52 AM

Here's the full version of "Shacks"

Shackletons don't bother me
Shackletons don't bother me
Clapped out abortions with flaps on their wings
Sod all their pistons and their piston rings
For were saying good bye to them all
Three fifths of five eightths of sod all
You'll get no enjoyment on coastal employment
So cheer up my lads sod 'em all

They say that the Shack is a mighty fine kite
This we no longer doubt
If you're in the air with a mig on your tale
This is the way to get out
Keep cool and keep calm and sedate mate
Don't let your British blood boil
Don't hesitate, ram them straight through the gate
And smother the bastard in oil

The old merlin engines that were in Shacks were renowned for throwing out oil if they were suddenly given full power. The engines were restricted to 90% power by a gate on the throttles. To achieve 100% power the throttles had to be pushed through the gates thus guaranteeing a black oily cloud of exhaust.

In the late sixties during a NATO exercise a Shack was being buzzed over the North Sea by a Russian mig when the captain decided to dive down to sea level on full power to get rid of it. This resulted in the migs canopy beeing smothered in thick black sticky oil. The mig pilot, unable to see anything, then had to bail out and be rescued by an RAF Air Sea Rescue launch. There then followed an official complaint by the Russian embassy to MOD abuot the poor maintainance standards of our aircraft. This incident prompted the writing of this song.

Daffydd


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Jun 06 - 02:53 PM

"Bless 'em All" seems to have been the favorite for complaints about the idiosyncrasies of planes, ships and other vehicles. "Songs From the Front and Rear contains verses on corvettes, Lancasters and Wellingtons.
Thanks for the Shackleton verses.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Nan
Date: 22 May 07 - 10:49 AM

Yes, he was my grandfather. Here is a link to site my brother has created about him: http://www.fredgodfreysongs.ca/


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Nan
Date: 22 May 07 - 10:55 AM

Sorry -- didn't read the whole thread. I see you've been all over this one!


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 May 07 - 12:04 PM

That line about "their blinkin' sons" has always struck me as odd. Why should "corporals" be associated with "their...sons"? If Guest Brian Hermann is correct, that it was a topical reference, those lines at least could not go back to World War I.

Can someone add anything solid to Brian's memory?


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Lee Tomkins (Ex 205 Squadron0
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 08:24 PM

I was interested about the origin of the infamous "Shack song" however I must disagree witn "magician" concerning the origin of the verse concerning the Mig.It could not have originated from the late sixties or be related to a North Sea Exercise. Firstly I was a member of 205 Squadron in 1965/6 at Changi in Singapore and we were singing that verse on many an occasion especially when we went on detachment to Kuching and Gan and were celebrating in the respective messes. Secondly the MiG (all the variants around at that time namely the 15,17,19 and 21) were limited range aircraft and were unlikely to even reach the North Sea,there were no significant Soviet naval aircraft forces at the time, the Moskva was not around before the seventies and that was limited to helicopters and VTOL aircraft so unless the aircraft had flown from East Germany overflying various NATO countries then that story leaves a lot of questions.
I think that the story of the Mig must come from the fifties or possibly the confrontation period in the early sixties assuming that Indonesia may have had Migs. I must admit that I do not recall any tales of MiGs being in conflict with our forces during Confrontation but Indonesia did have soviet helicopters so it is possible that they had MiGs as well.
Anyway thanks for the verses I had forgotten parts of the first verse,in fact if my memory serves me correct there was a total of at least 4 verses.Does anyone recall the other verses?

Lee T


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: iancarterb
Date: 18 Jul 07 - 12:51 AM

I'm ecstatic to see this 6 year old thread about one of the first songs I consciously knew (born in '42 near New York City with a constant houseful of RN ratings - Brits, Kiwis and Aussies- on short liberties until 1945). My parents sang the sanitized verses, at least when we kids were around. I have read all ten versions in the DT and I love the explorations above into the genesis and references of many of them. I've had to teach it to anyone I wanted to sing it with except my (older) sister, of course. My mother could be moved to sing the chorus despite dementia until near her death at 97- and a number of other songs from that most out-of-the-ordinary period of her life from '41 to '46.    Carter B


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Lighter at Work
Date: 19 Jul 07 - 09:37 AM

GUEST Lee Tomkins. The words of the Shackleton song posted above were sung by the RAAF in WWII about the unsatisfactory Wirraway fighter. The "Migs" and "Reds" just modernize the original "Japs" and "Zeros." Other than these changes, the songs are the same.

Can you recall any other RAF songs?


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Lee T
Date: 21 Jul 07 - 10:36 PM

Thanks for the reply and although I served on a number of squadrons during my service ( 22,51,103,110,205,543 )the only other song of significance was a stupid repetitive song called "Goodbye Horse" where the words were insignificant but the emphasis placed on the words had everyone rolling about in laughter.
For the record the words were :

Goodbye 'orse, Goodbye 'orse
He was saying goodbye to his 'orse
And as he was saying goodbye to his 'orse
He was saying goodbye to his ' orse
goodbye 'orse goodbye 'orse
etc

Now I know that the song is stupid and repetitive but at a squadron "do" it took upon itself a certain ritual and was regularly requested by squadron members.
It was certainly popular on 22, 51,and 543 Squadrons and yours truly seemed to get the reputation for singing the song.
I do not know the origin of the song, perhaps it has connections with the army?

Any information would be gratefully recieved from an historical perspective.
Incidentally for you older members, my sister Glynis Longhurst,is the treasurer of the Burma Star Association and she would love to hear from all of you veterans that have any information that you would like to impart.
Dad, Freddie Tomkins,now passed away bless him, was in the 10th Glosters in Burma during the war and I would love to hear from any old comrades as I am currently trying to compile a history of the battalion in Burma.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Incidentally I joined the Royal Air Force in 1962 as a Boy entrant in the 47th Entry and would love any correspondence with anyone with similar links

regards
Lee T


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,MiltonAlumni
Date: 04 Aug 07 - 11:52 PM

We use this song as a "fight song" in our local school district here in Ohio.
Our band director back in the 60s changed the wording to the following. It was to fit the American Football we play.

Bless 'em all, bless 'em all.
the lads that are right on the ball.

Bless and the tackles, the guards and the ends,
Bless all the backsmen, they score they're our friends.

Give a cheer to the boys one and all,
As back to the showers they crawl.
And now that it's over, and we are in clover,
Hooray for the team, bless 'em all!

Does anyone out there know where to buy the sheet music to the song?


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: robomatic
Date: 05 Aug 07 - 01:02 AM

There's a rather touching science fiction story of about twenty years ago which recounted a future anthropologist lost among savages in the future Britain. He hears a strange garbled song which goes:

Balasamo, balasamo
Sarnocorpano
Bina mosha sada rosha
Chumila balasamo

And, as he dies of wounds at the end of the story he makes the connection between the devolved residents and their song and the subject of our thread.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Dudley Baker 205 Sqn
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 11:08 AM

Some more words for the shack song. Any help with gas or corrections.

Singing shine shine Somerset shine
The skipper looks on us with pride
He'd have blue fit if he saw the shit
on the side of the Somersetshire
Chocks away chocks away
And we will chase all the SPs that come down our way
And their wives and their wives
And we'll chase all their daughters for their blessing lives.

This is our story this is our song
We've been in this airforce too bloody long

The Rodney Repulse and Renown
You can't sink the Hood cause the bastards gone down


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Dudley Baker 205 Sqn
Date: 03 Jan 08 - 12:04 PM

A bit more of the Shack Song. Hi Lee 1948515M dudley.baker@ntlword.com

This is our story this is our song
We've been in this airforce too bloody long
Roll out the Rodney Repulse and Renown
You can't sink the Hood cause the bastards gone down
Chocks away chocks away
And we'll chase all the SPs that come down our way
And their wives and their wives
And we'll chase all their daughters for their blessed lives.

There is a moral to our little song
If we all stick together we just can't go wrong

Until 205 Sqn goes flying again


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Subject: Lyr Add: COOK 'EM ALL
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Jan 08 - 10:46 PM

Here's a version I put together on the Cat back in 2003 when there was a story in the papers about "Chefs have been drafted in to command soldiers training for a possible assault on Iraq because Britain's elite infantry regiments are so short of experienced soldiers. (BS: Chefs in charge in British Army? ):

Cook 'em all, cook 'em all,
Now the cookies have answered the call.
Cook all the sergeants and the officers too,
And cook all their privates to serve in a stew.
They say that we're headed away to the East
Though we'd much sooner go down the pub,
There's some bugger called Bush says it's time for a push,
Though we'd rather be dishing up grub.

Here we go, cheerio,
You might think we are marching too slow,
But the British divisions need ample provisions,
To be fit for to fight with the foe,
I hear that the tanks that we got from the Yanks
Are inclined to get stuck in the sand,
But with bangers and mash we will cut quite a dash,
So they need us to give them a hand.

Cook em all, cook em all,
The long and the short and the tall,
They're cooking up something and it seems it's a war,
So it's time to get stuck in, like always before.
But are we downhearted or are we distressed?
Why no, we'll be having a ball,
For cookie is always at home in a mess.
So cheer up me lads, cook 'em all.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Dudley Baker 205 Sqn
Date: 07 Jan 08 - 04:19 AM

This seems the last half verse of the Shack Song. Unless you know different.

There is a moral to our little song
If we all stick together we just can't go wrong
So cheer up my lads and we'll sing this refrain
When 205 Sqn goes flying again


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Bob Thompson
Date: 15 Jan 08 - 08:20 PM

Just come across "Magician`s" comments regarding The Shackleton Song (Jun 06).   Folklore I am afraid!   As a matter of accuracy, the Shack had Griffon engines, not Merlins.    As for oily black smoke when the engines were put through the 90% gate to get full power - I doubt it.   Firstly, with 2500 hours as a "Siggy" on the beasts, I don`t recall any throttle gate limiting the engines to 90%. Anyway, during my lengthy sojourn in The Kipper Fleet, I spent many an hour languishing in the beam for take-off, idly watching the engines. The aircraft was relatively underpowered, and 100% power was always used to get the Shack airborne. Simply, there was never any black, oily smoke at max power. Incidently, at night, one could see the exhaust manifolds glowing red-hot - more than enough to burn off any oil that might possibly have escaped.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,LIighter at work
Date: 16 Jan 08 - 09:45 AM

Like I said, the name of the post-war Shackleton was substituted for that of the Australian Wirraway fighter of WWII. The "black oily smoke" originally pertained to that airplane. It was easier to keep the old words, in this case, than to write new ones.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Ott in Pennsy
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 02:08 AM

We sent for McArthur to come to Korea
but Dugout Doud he said "no".
It's too cold and I'm too old
besides, there's no USO

We sent for the nurses to come to Korea,
The girlies they made it with ease,One to each table
each bearing this label
"Reserved for the Officers,Please"
    cho
B T A, B T A
as back to the Yalu we crawl
there'll be no promotion this side of the ocean
So, cheer up my boys bless them all


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 03:55 AM

Also see the Merchant Navy version [Clan boat just leaving Bombay] in the MN Perma thread.   Ron


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Lee Haviland
Date: 07 Nov 09 - 06:22 PM

Could you send those lyrics to me at LaaandMarilyn@aol.com?
I have a US MArine Corps party tomorrow to go to and want to sing a version I learned in England in the 1950s.
THANKS
    E-Mail sent, but address didn't work. -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Nov 09 - 11:19 AM

Ed Cray's 'The Erotic Muse' has 6 pages of versions, including some of the above historical background.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Nov 09 - 12:59 PM

Reminder of Willis Hall's early play, premiered at Royal Court Theatre 1959, set in WWii Burma: title — The Long and the Short and the Tall.

The rank WO1 [Warrant Officer 1st Class] would include Staff Sergeant Majors, &c, as well as the great RSM himself. Their insignia would be the Royal coat-of-arms worn on the forearm. WO2's would have a crown there, if a Company Sergeant Major, or a crown in a wreath if a Staff Quartermaster Sergeant — there were various ranks designated Warrant Officers. They were entitled to be called 'Sir' by other ranks {privates & NCOs}, and addressed as 'Mr So-and-so' by officers'. WO1s were allowed to wear the soft-topped service-dress cap generally associated with officers. They were not, however, entitled to salutes from lower ranks.

"Corporals and their blooming sons", I always presumed, referred to corporals addressing the rankers under their command in such terms as "Come on, my sons; let's be having you; get fell in!" - or some such


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Nov 09 - 01:14 PM

Slight thread drift suggested by above post — as the insignia for a sergeant is three stripes on the upper arm, and a major, officer of field rank, wears a crown on the shoulder, it is often thought that a soldier with a crown above three stripes is a Sergeant-Major {a gross error which marred the opening moments of the famous tv version of Brideshead Revisited in the 1980s!: you'd have thought with the money they spent on that production they might have employed a competent Miltary Advisor}. In fact, that is the insignia of a Colour-Sergeant in the Infantry [see the film Zulu, & Kipling's poem Danny Deever], or a Staff-Sergeant in one of the support corps, or a Corporal-of-Horse in the Household Cavalry — the most senior NCO ranks, but lower than Warrant Officers.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Nov 09 - 01:19 PM

... & re Kipling's Danny Deever — beautifully set & sung, it will be recalled, by the late great Peter Bellamy to the tune of Derwentwater's Farewell.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 01:11 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,Flash
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 11:24 AM

I served on 205 Sqdn from 1959-1961961, and we were singing The Shackleton song back then. It maybe that the confusion about 90% throttle came about as a result of the fact (I believe) that for high altitude-high temperature takeoffs, the Griffons used water-meth injection to give them extra boost. I was only an instrument basher, so I can't guarentee that I know what Im talking about.


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Subject: RE: Help: Bless 'em All
From: GUEST,ewaboy
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 01:42 PM

Even as a kid I always heard, in my mind, "F... 'Em All" whenever some movie GIs sang "Bless 'Em All".

Finally figured out that as a toddler during the Occupation of Japan I must have heard Aussies or Kiwis singing the "correct version" in some smoke filled bar or night club. Strangely - one of my earliest memories is being in just such a setting with my parents and their friends.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BLESS 'EM ALL (from Gracie Fields)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 11:38 AM

You can hear Gracie's version at YouTube:


BLESS 'EM ALL
As sung by Gracie Fields, 1942

Bless 'em all. Bless 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall.
Bless all the sergeants, the sourpuss ones.
Bless all the corporals and their dopey sons.
'Cause we're saying goodbye to them all
As back to the barracks they crawl.
No ice cream an' cookies or flat-footed rookies,
So cheer up, my lads. Bless 'em all.

They say that in camp you can have a swell time.
A wee birdie told before.
Five in the morning we're kicked out of bed
To scrub up the barrack-room floor.

A private has really no privacy now.
We're all behind the eight-ball.
We'll get no promotion this side of the ocean
So cheer up, my lads. Bless 'em all.

Bless 'em all. Bless 'em all,
The guys who have answered the call.
The best bunch of seamen that you've ever seen,
The men who are manning our merchant marine.
Yes, we owe a big debt to them all,
For the troops and munitions they haul
Are showing Herr Hitler his chances get littler
Each time they put out. Bless 'em all.

Ev'ryone knows what a job they've done.
The whole blinking lot, bless 'em all.


[George Formby also recorded some version.]


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Subject: Lyr Add: BLESS 'EM ALL (from George Formby)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 12:17 PM

You can hear George Formby's version at YouTube:

(Actually, YouTube has several copies, but I think the audio is identical on all of them, varying somewhat in sound fidelity.)


BLESS 'EM ALL
As sung by George Formby, 1940.

They say there's a troop ship just leavin' Bombay
Bound for Old Blighty's shore,
Heavily laden with time-expired men,
Bound for the land they adore.
There's many an airman just finishin' 'is time.
There's many a twerp signin' on.
You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up, my lads. Bless 'em all.

CHORUS: Bless 'em all. Bless 'em all,
The long an' the short an' the tall.
Bless all the sergeants an' W-O-ones.
Bless all the corp'rals an' their blinkin' sons,
'Cause we're sayin' goodbye to them all
As back to their village they crawl.
You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up, my lads. Bless 'em all.

They say if you work 'ard you'll get better pay.
We've 'eard all that before.
Clean up your buttons an' polish your boots,
Scrub out the barrack-room floor.
There's many a rookie 'as taken it in
Hook, line, an' sinker an' all.
You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up, my lads. Bless 'em all. CHORUS

Now they say that the sergeant's a very nice chap.
Oh, what a tale to tell!
Ask 'im for leave on a Saturday night,
He'll pay your fare 'ome as well.
There's many an airman 'as blighted 'is life
Through writin' rude words on the wall.
You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up, my lads. Bless 'em all. CHORUS

Nobody knows what a twerp you 'ave been,
So cheer up, my lads. Bless 'em all.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bless 'Em All
From: Joe_F
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 03:34 PM

Unsurprisingly, that is almost identical to Ewan MacColl's version.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BLESS 'EM ALL (from Navy Song Book)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 06:56 PM

From Navy Song Book page 27:

[This is an odd book. No editor's or publisher's name seems to be printed in it (so far as what is viewable through Google Books) and no publication date or copyright statement for the book as a whole, although individual songs have dates and copyright statements. Nevertheless, Google Books, in its cataloguing data, gives "by Barry Leonard, Diane Publishing, 1958." It also labels it "reprint." No information is given about the original publisher or date.]

BLESS 'EM ALL
(1940)
Words and music by Jimmy Hughes, Frank Lake and Al Stillman.

1. Bless 'em all! Bless 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall.
Bless ev'ry blondie and ev'ry brunette.
Some we remember and some we forget,
But we're giving our eye to them all,
The ones that appeal or appall.
We stall and we tarry while they want to marry,
But nevertheless, bless 'em all!

2. Bless 'em all! Bless 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall.
Bless all the blondies and all the brunettes.
Each lad is happy to take what he gets,
'Cause we're giving the eye to them all,
The ones that attract or appall:
Maud, Maggie or Susie, you can't be too choosey.
When you are in camp, bless 'em all!

3. Bless 'em all! Bless 'em all!
Bless every last living doll.
Bless all the redheads, each blonde and brunette.
With all those curves, who looks at hair yet?
So we're giving the eye to them all,
Wherever duty may call.
No port can be gruesome, with boy and girl twosome.
Now hear this, you lads: bless 'em all!

4. Bless 'em all! Bless 'em all,
In any service at all.
Bless all the Wacs, every Spar and each Wave.
We love the Marines—the kind who don't shave.
A lieutenant that we love to date
Is very affectionate.
She's stacked oh so neatly. She smiles oh so sweetly.
Full steam ahead! Bless 'em all!

5. Bless 'em all! Bless 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall.
Bless all the admirals in the U.S. Navy.
They don't care if we ever get back.
So we're waving goodbye to them all
As back to our foxholes we crawl.
There'll be no promotions this side of the ocean,
So cheer up, my lads. Bless 'em all!

6. Bless 'em all! Bless 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall.
Bless the instructors who teach us to dive.
Bless all our stars that we still are alive
For if ever the engine should stall,
We're in for a heck of a fall.
No ice-cream and cookies for flat-footed rookies,
So cheer up, my lads. Bless 'em all!

7. Bless 'em all! Bless 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall.
Bless all the posters with beautiful scenes
We were to see if we joined the Marines.
Well, we've seen no scen'ry at all,
Except what they scrawl on the wall.
No ice-cream and cookies for flat-footed rookies,
So cheer up, my lads. Bless 'em all!

[CODA] Nobody knows what a sap you've been,
So cheer up, my lads. Bless 'em all! (Bless 'em all!)

Copyright 1941 by Sam Fox Publishing Co., Incorporated, Used by permission.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bless 'Em All
From: GUEST,ROY SULLIVAN
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 07:28 PM

LEE I believe that we are family. I am struggling with the tree and would very much to make contact. If this is the right Freddie and I can believe that there was no other in Burma and filmed in The World at War series 1974. Freddie had a sister Olive born December 1923 the dau of Henry Tomkins and May A l.I am Olives son..which would make us some sort of cousin I guess.Please contact me diverdan49@dodo.com.au or sunrise@email.com
ROY


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bless 'Em All
From: Rumncoke
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 07:09 PM

The corporals and their sons - being older than the private soldiers, corporals were more likely to have married and have a young family.

Photos of the sprogs would be sent in letters, and proudly shown off to a totally disinterested but captive audience.

Anne Croucher


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bless 'Em All
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 29 Dec 11 - 03:52 AM

Lighter: That line about "their blinkin' sons" has always struck me as odd. Why should "corporals" be associated with "their...sons"? If Guest Brian Hermann is correct, that it was a topical reference, those lines at least could not go back to World War I.

Rumncoke: The corporals and their sons - being older than the private soldiers, corporals were more likely to have married and have a young family.

Photos of the sprogs would be sent in letters, and proudly shown off to a totally disinterested but captive audience.


I think the reference to corporals' sons is far more likely to be due to the common junior NCO habit of telling their charges "my X year old son could do it better than that". This appears to be independent of any topical reference. My grandad certainly mentions it in his 1917 war diaries, John Winton mentions it in "We Joined The Navy" (1950s) and one of my current British Military Fitness instructors, a serving Marine PTI, constantly exhorts us to greater efforts by comparing our peformance unfavourably with that of his 4 year old!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bless 'Em All
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 Dec 11 - 04:19 AM

I still think, as mentioned in an earlier post, that the likeliest ref is to NCOs addressing the ranks in some such terms as "Come on, my sons; let's be having you".

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bless 'Em All
From: Lighter
Date: 29 Dec 11 - 05:22 PM

Both Rob's and MtheGM's explanations sound plausible.

Whoever wrote the line would thus seem to have had some recruit experience and have beem writing specifically for a forces audience. Few others would have been likely to recognize either allusion. Perhaps the line - and the entire chorus except for "Bless" - was Godfrey's, and most or all of the remaining Prowse lyrics were added in 1940 to make an extended song of what had been previously just a rowdy chorus in the public domain. But I'm just thinking out loud.

Since my last posting in 2008, I've been watching for additional pre-1940 "Bless 'em All" information and have searched additional databases. Have found nothing new whatsoever.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bless 'Em All
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 10 Jan 12 - 08:27 AM

MtheGM,

Hmm, I'd be surprised if Junior NCOs ever referred to their charges as "my sons". "Lads", yes, when being extra nice, "you 'orrible shower of bastards", yes, "you miserable wankers" yes, "my sons"...unlikely!

I was "beasted" around the Common last night by a PTI who on at least 3 occasions informed us that his 4 year old son could do it better than that. And in "We Joined The Navy" the officer cadets can't wait to meet the little daughter of Chief Gunner Mr Froud, since she was obviously such a physical and mental prodigy. And my grandad's war diary makes several mentions of corporals having very talented children. In my mind there's little doubt that this tendency is what the song refers to.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bless 'Em All
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Jan 12 - 10:51 AM

Something I seem to recall some of our training unit NCOs saying during my early Nat Service days, Rob ~~ but perhaps my memory of what happened in Jan-Feb 1951 might just have been conflated and confused with the words of the song!

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bless 'Em All
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Oct 16 - 07:34 AM

A minor conjecture, but no one seems to have thought of it before:

When Fred Godfrey wrote in 1941 that the he had written "Bless 'em All" in WW1, he added, "And, furthermore, it wasn't 'Bless.'"

Since Godfrey says his (semi-official) RNAS vaudeville troupe performed the song for "hundreds of lads every evening," is it likely that their superiors would have allowed them to sing, night after night, anything stronger than "Damn" or "Blast"? In 1917-18 it was still illegal in Britain even to print the familiar "F-word."

Which would have been added in the "folk" versions, sung in uncensored situations.

I wonder if Godfrey's sense of propriety would have permitted him even to have alluded to the F-word in a letter to a general circulation newspaper in 1941 - particularly if he was suggesting he'd sung it out loud, on a stage, many times!

(Note the resemblance between "blast" and "bless," which may have replaced it.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bless 'Em All
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Oct 16 - 08:04 AM

The version actually sung by soldiers is the relevant one, regardless of whether the written original or the stage version might have been different. Or rather, both versions are authentic, according to the context in which they were and are sung.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bless 'Em All
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Oct 16 - 09:16 AM

Of course. But since there seems to be no identifiable trace of Godfrey's original, it's diverting to speculate about it.


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