SOLDIER SONGS - online songbook

A collection of WWI songs By Patrick Macgill circa 1916

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SOLDIER SONGS, A collection of WWI songs.By Patrick Macgill About This Book

You have often asked me what are the favourite songs of the soldier on Active Service, the rhymed lines which give expression to his soul. It is difficult to give an answer, the mere words are " dud " shells, which drop harmlessly to earth close to their objective. The soldier and his song cannot be separated from their surroundings. Let me explain and quote in illustration an incident which occurred a few weeks ago. A certain regiment, which glories in the name of the " Old Diehards," sent a draft to the " London Irish," and the new-comers attached to our battalion became part of the units' fighting strength. Sixty per cent of the draft were " old sweats," men who had fought well on many a bloody field, and added by prowess of arms numerous honours to their own beloved regiment. They had shared their last crust with hearty comrades in the retreat from Mons, they battled side by side with these comrades on the Marne, and wept over their graves by the Aisne. The circumstances of war strengthen the esprit-de-corps of a soldier, and I am not far wrong in stating that pride of regiment in an " old sweat " is much stronger than love of country. On the evening of their arrival these veterans sat in their huts and sang the song of the " Old Diehards." Mere doggerel the verse, the words fatuous, and the singing not above reproach. But the song touched the hearts of the audience ; the listeners were " old sweats " who had songs of their own. As I listened I thought of the children of Israel, who hung their harps on the willows and mourned for Babylon. The feeling engendered in a man when a futile shell drops close to him and fails to explode is difficult to make manifest in cold words; but it is even more difficult to give an adequate idea of the impression created in the hearts of those who listened to the song of the " Old Diehards."

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