Come On Lads
Canteen Songs of World War Two
Performed by Sods' Opera
Beautiful Jo Records BEJOCD-7

Produced and researched by Tim Healey
Engineered by Mark Tucker
Digital Mastering by Henry Smithson at Sounds Good, Reading
Recorded at Woodworm Studios, Oxfordshire, 1995
Tel: (01865) 249194
The material in this album has been compiled both from printed sources and from personal reminiscence. The band owes particular debts of gratitude to Denis Healey and Richard Hill for their encouragement. Special mention should be made of author Roy Palmer whose 'What a Lovely War!'- British Soldiers' Songs from the Boer War to the Present Day (Michael Joseph, 1990), yielded vital material. Roy Palmer also provided previously unpublished songs from his collection. Thanks are due to the staff of the Imperial War Museum, London, for locating Army Songs, an intelligence document recording material that was being sung by troops in the Middle East and Italy, 1944. We would also like to express our gratitude to the Bodleian Library in Oxford, where the invaluable Airman's Songbook, ed. C.H.Ward-Jackson (Sylvan Press, 1945) was found.

Ian Giles                    Lead vocals *
Dave Townsend        Piano accordion, concertina, vocals
Jeff Young                 Piano, ukelele, chorus
Tim Hall                    Clarinet, saxophone, chorus
Tim Richardson         Percussion, chorus
Steve Smith               Double bass, chorus
Tim Healey                Vocals, special effects

Special Guests

Chris Leslie               Violin, harmonica
Alan Tomlinson         Trombone

* Tim Healey sings lead vocals on Thanks for the Memory.
   Dave Townsend sings lead vocals on We Are the Boys.
   Tim Healey and Dave Townsend sing vocals on Service Police Song.

  1. Haven't Seen Old Hitler 1:16
  2. The D-Day Dodgers 3:02
  3. Ode to a Gezira Lovely 2:00
  4. Tins 2:01
  5. The Ballad of Wadi Maktilla 2:23
  6. The Dying Soldier 2:26
  7. Service Police Song 2:33
  8. Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergent Major 1:35
  9. Thanks for the Memories 2:31
  10. Come on Chaps [a teasing song - tune?]   1:00
  11. The Firth of Forth 1:39
  12. Down the Mine 2:47
  13. The Sailor's Wife [aka She Was One Of The Rakish Kind]   1:22
  14. Longmoor 2:15
  15. I Don't Want To Join The Army 0:33
  16. Hitler Has Only Got One Ball 0:30
  17. We Are The RFC 0:30
  18. Cats On The Rooftops 0:17
  19. Follow The Band [Hey Jig A Jig Fuck A Little Bit]   0:47
  20. Bloody Orkney 2:12
  21. We are the Boys 1:47
  22. Africa Star 2:11
  23. The Sinking of the Graf Spee 1:54
  24. My Bomber Lies Over the Ocean 1:27
  25. When This Bloody War is Over 2:03
  26. The Gay Caballero 1:31
  27. Onward 15 Army Group 2:05
  28. The Highland Division's Fairwell to Sicily   2:17
  29. 'Bless' 'em All 2:24

1. I Haven't Seen Old Hitler A song from the closing period of the war, still alive in the oral tradition.

2. The D-Day Dodgers It was widely believed that Lady Astor, MP, had referred to troops in Itaiy as 'D-Day dodgers' because they missed the 1944 landings in Normandy. In fact, these men had seen some of the ugliest fighting in the war. This song - a riposte from the front - became a forces' favourite. The original appears to have been written by Lance-Sergeant Harry Pynn of the Tank Rescue Section, 19 Army Fire Brigade, but the lyrics underwent many variations. This version was collected by Denis Healey when a sapper with the 8th Army in Italy.

3. Ode to a Gezira Lovely Gezira, an island in the Nile, possessed a sports club much frequented by Allied officers in North Africa. A version of this ode appears in an Imperial War Museum document, Army Songs, compiled by the Intelligence Corps at 8th Army HQ in Italy, 1944.

4. Tins The humble petrol tin was adapted for many domestic necessities in wartime. This tribute originated among coastal command squadrons stationed in Iceland from 1941. From Ward-Jackson's Airman's Song Book.

5. The Ballad of Wadi Maktilla A song collected in 1940 by Hamish Henderson, an intelligence officer who served with the 51st Highland Division. The song commemorates 'a somewhat abortive raid by the 2nd Camerons on an Italian outpost about 12 miles east of Sidi Barrani.' From Roy Palmer.

6. The Dying Soldier A stark narrative set at Kohima on the Indo-Burmese border, to the tune of the Red River Valley. From Roy Palmer.

7.  Service Police Song A parody sung to the tune of Offenbach's Gendarmes' Duet. Written for an RAF station concert party. From Ward-Jackson.

8. Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergeant-Major A hit song written in 1939 by Art Noel and Don Pelosi. Though a product of Tin Pan Alley, it displays a subversive humour that places it firmly in the low concert tradition. Note the comb-and-toilet paper chorus.

9. Thanks for the Memory Wartime parody from the collection of Roy Palmer. The 1937 hit, written by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger, was much adapted in World War Two. WAAF officers on a Gas Course in 1941 sang of the 'respirator drill, which shook but did not kill - Pathetic it was.'

10. Come on Chaps One of many similar ribaldries current in World War Two. All shared the same formula: the rhyme calls for an obscenity which is never in fact voiced. (Army Songs)

11. The Firth of Forth A song marvellously 'browned off in mood, which was sung with many variants by RAF squadrons in World War Two. The targets in the last verse are the 'Ops Room twots' - personnel in Operations Room, Headquarters.

12.  Down the Mine A deeply affecting song written by Arthur Smith of Leven, Fife, who was one of many British POWs held by the Japanese at Kinkaseki, Formosa (now Taiwan). Inmates were made to work in a copper mine. The bunsho dono was the camp commander; a chunkle was a pick. From Roy Palmer.

13. The Sailor's Wife World War Two version of a popular Royal Navy song which is 19th-century or earlier in origin.

14. Longmoor One of many wartime parodies of The Mountains of Mourne. Longmoor Camp is in Hampshire; a similar song targeted Carlisle.

15. I Don't Want to Join the Army (medley) The song - a soldiers' favourite in both world wars - leads into a medley of barrack-room verses. Fred Karno was a comedian noted for his ineptitude; the RSC was the Royal Service Corps. The lyric 'I've Been in the Saddle,' originally sung by the cavalry regiments, was also relished by WW2 infantrymen. This track is not for the fainthearted.

16.  Bloody Orkney Crushing boredom in an out-of-the-way garrison town. The original, about Orkney, was written by Captain Hamish Blair but many variants were devised. Denis Healey knew it as Sheffield in the Blitz. Airmen sang of 'Bloody Shrimpton-Bassett'.

17. We Are the Boys Collected by Dave Townsend from the singing of Ron East of Weston-on-the-Green in Oxfordshire.

18.  Africa Star A soldierly disrespect for campaign medals is exhibited in this song which, like the D-Day Dodgers, takes a sideswipe at Lady Astor. From Roy Palmer.

19. The Sinking of the Graf Spee Song celebrating the sinking of a German pocket battleship by three British cruisers in December 1939. Roy Palmer recalls a Dick Bamber of Tandragee, who 'remembered singing this song in pubs during the war and not having to buy a drink because of it.'

20. My Bomber Lies over the Ocean 'A pretty little bomber song sung by 175 and other squadrons from 1942' (Ward-Jackson).

21. When this Bloody War is Over A World War One song still widespread in World War Two. The hymn tune is What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

22. The Gay Caballero A bawdy tale very popular with wartime sevicemen. Versions appear in Roy Palmer and in Army Songs.

23. Onward 15 Army Group Morale in Italy declined late in the war as fighting dragged on and, one after another, Allied commanders left for other theatres. General Mark Clark was an American who took charge of 15 Army Group. This piece, collected by Denis Healey, is also found in Army Songs.

24.The Highland Division's Farewell to Sicily A composition by Hamish Henderson - one of the finest songs of World War Two. The dialect does not obscure its mood of haunting regret for the 'puir bliddy bastards', weary of war, who rest at the waterside. The tune is Farewell to the Creeks, a Gordon pipe march.

25. 'Bless' 'em All This song was current in the forces long before 1940 when Jimmy Hughes and Frank Lake copyrighted an arrangement of it. Bless 'em All was the title of their wartime hit. Servicemen used a different verb - so do we.