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Lyr Add: Down the Mine (POW song)

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Matthew Edwards 28 Jul 04 - 10:44 AM
mg 28 Jul 04 - 11:09 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: DOWN THE MINE (POW song)
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 28 Jul 04 - 10:44 AM

Some recent discussions on Mudcat and elsewhere about the song Down in the Mine reminded me of a POW song I'd heard on a tape of old soldiers' songs. The song is a very moving song of defiance sung by prisoners in a Japanese POW camp at Kinkaseki in Taiwan as they went to their forced labour down in a copper mine. The song was composed by one of the prisoners, Trumpeter Arthur Smith, known as the "Robbie Burns of Kinkaseki". It is sung on the tape ("What A Lovely War" VT121, Veteran Tapes, 1990) by Maurice Rooney of Norwich who was also a POW at Kinkaseki, and the text is given in Roy Palmer's book "What a Lovely War"; British Soldiers' Songs from the Boer War to the present day, Michael Joseph, London, 1990.

Sadly both Maurice Rooney and Arthur Smith have recently passed away, but Maurice Rooney was very active in the Former Eastern POW association, and passed on his experiences to others, and thanks to the resources of the internet it is possible to read a great deal about the stories behind this song. I was amazed by some of the accounts I read, and so, in addition to posting the text of the song, I've posted some links which I've found. In particular do read the poem by Arthur Smith The Hill of Taiwan.


Down the Mine

By Trumpeter Arthur Smith, Gunner, 155th Field Regiment, RA.

There's a song in old Formosa that the Nips they loudly sing;
In the billets every evening you should hear the music ring.
Now they sing to British soldiers who've travelled from afar
To fight for king and country - now they're prisoners of war,
But they know they'll see their homeland in the future once again:
Listen while I sing to you the Nipponese refrain:-

(Chorus)
Down the mine, bonny laddies, down the mine you'll go,
Though your feet are lacerated you did not answer 'no';
Though the rice is insufficient and we treat you all like swine,
Down the mine, bonny laddies, down the mine.


Now the boys were fairly happy till one cold and cloudy day
When the bunsho dono* he came out and he to them did say;
'Now I expect you all are wondering why you're out on this parade,
The reason is you must be taught the Taiwan serenade':-

Down the mine, bonny laddies, down the mine you'll go,
Though your feet are lacerated you did not answer 'no';
Though the rice is insufficient and we treat you all like swine,
Down the mine, bonny laddies, down the mine.


You should see us work with chunkles*, and we work with baskets too,
Though the method is old-fashioned to the boys it's something new,
And we work away with patience till the dawn of freedom's day,
But until then the Nippon men will all be heard to say:-

Down the mine, bonny laddies, down the mine you'll go,
Though your feet are lacerated you did not answer 'no';
Though the rice is insufficient and we treat you all like swine,
Down the mine, bonny laddies, down the mine.


Notes:
*bunsho dono 'camp commander'
*chunkles 'a sort of pick or mattock'
Taiwan POW camps
Kinkaseki Camp      
Maurice Rooney's story
A Prisoner of War's Story; Part One
A Prisoner of War's Story; Part Two


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Down the Mine (POW song)
From: mg
Date: 28 Jul 04 - 11:09 AM

awesome...mg


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