Did they beat the drums slowly…. ?

Well, how do you do, young Wille McBride?   Today, on Armistice Day I would like to share this video with you.  The music is a song by The Furey’s, The Green Fields of France.. it is long but please take the time to watch and listen, the lyrics are below.  It never fails to send a shiver down my spine, particularly when I think of all the soldiers who really did believe that WW1 was “The War To End Wars”.. and willingly gave their lives to save us all.  

How tragic that, as it says in the song “it all happened again and again and again…”  and especially that, almost 100 years later, our soldiers are still fighting.

Well, how do you do, Private William McBride,
Do you mind if I sit down here by your graveside?
And rest for awhile in the warm summer sun,
I’ve been walking all day, and I’m nearly done.
And I see by your gravestone you were only 19
When you joined the glorious fallen in 1916,
Well, I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean
Or, Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they Beat the drum slowly, did the play the pipes lowly?
Did the rifles fir o’er you as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles sound The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined?
And, though you died back in 1916,
To that loyal heart are you forever 19?
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Forever enshrined behind some glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained,
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?

The sun’s shining down on these green fields of France;
The warm wind blows gently, and the red poppies dance.
The trenches have vanished long under the plow;
No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard that’s still No Man’s Land
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man’s blind indifference to his fellow man.
And a whole generation who were butchered and damned.

And I can’t help but wonder, no Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you “The Cause?”
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain,
For Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.


These pictures are from a beautiful service held today in my little village.  When I look at the names, I am reminded that the men from this village were almost entirely lost, whole families lost their boys, one after another..



The Women of War….

 This week is all about the sacrifice that the armed forces made for us, specifically since World War 1.
In this blog post I would like to pay tribute to all the women who  also suffered and made sacrifices.  As the week goes on, I will update this page with new pictures and stories about the Women of War.  The role women played in our society changed dramatically, particularly after WW2. Prior to this women were considered, on the whole, to be best suited to “womanly” tasks such as housewifery, nursing, teaching etc.. The wars changed that forever.  Women found themselves working on the land, in factories, working as de-coders, even building aircraft.. here are just a few of the roles women took on during the wars… 

“Holly Housewife”  didn’t just abandon her housework though, she took on extra work in order to keep the country fed, clothed and protected..

Holly Housewife

Next, let me introduce “Poppy”, my Landgirl avatar (she is wearing a poppy covered top and has a RBL poppy tucked into her dungarees) 

Poppy the Landgirl

Poppy was just one of over 250,000 women who worked as farm labourers during WW1. With all able men joining up to fight, the women played a very important role, working on the land to ensure that Britain had a food supply.  20,000 women also joined the “Land Army”  The Land Army on Wikipedia

Vera the Sweetheart


The first “Sweetheart” was in WW1, Lady Angela Forbes was the Forces Sweetheart at camp and a wartime catering organiser for the British army from November 1914.  The British Soldiers’ Buffets, commonly known as Angelinas, met every train of wounded as it arrived and were often open 24 hours a day, and food never ran out. (Extract from Wikipedia) as above..

Since WW2, the Sweethearts have entertained the troops, the most famous for this is Dame Vera Lynn who sang her rendition of “White Cliffs Of Dover” and “We’ll Meet Again”.. other famous Sweethearts have included Marilyn Monroe, Gracie Fields and most recently Katherine Jenkins.


The nurses of course played a massive role during the wars, initially unwelcome on the front-line, they went anyway.. in their thousands, to heal, comfort and protect in any way they could.  One nurse I would like to pay particular tribute to is Edith Cavell.  Extracts taken from her website:    

She was weeding her mother’s garden when she heard the news of the German invasion of Belgium. She would not be persuaded to stay in England. “At a time like this”, she said, “I am more needed than ever”. 

Edith not only nursed on the front-line but helped “wanted” men to escape, she paid for this with her life.  On the 12th October 1915 she was executed by a 16 strong firing squad.  Her last words were:

”I realise that patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone”. 

Jenny the Wren

The De-Coder’s of Bletchley Park..  This links to a blog-post by @scarlettsdad about the secret work of the Wrens stationed at Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes.  

During World War I, the United Kingdom declared a blockade of the North Sea, to which Germany responded by using its U-boats (submarines) to sink ships carrying military equipment or food to the United Kingdom, food becoming the more important as the war continued, especially after the declaration of unlimited U-boat warfare. In about two years, the United Kingdom had just six weeks’ food left and, therefore, had to ration its food supplies.

During World War II, rationing was introduced very early, One of the few foods not rationed were fish and chips. Restaurants were exempt from rationing, which led to resentment, as the rich could supplement their food allowance by eating out frequently and extravagantly.. 

Before rationing lace and frills were popular on knickers but these were soon banned so material could be saved. From March to May 1942 austerity measures were introduced which restricted the number of buttons, pockets and pleats (among other things) on clothes.

So the British had to adapt, using whatever resources they had.  The avatar above depicts a woman drawing a line up her leg to give the impression she was wearing stockings..

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 57 other subscribers
  • My PNB