View Full Version : Willie Mcbride

Bally Heck
31st Mar 2002, 23:52

I saw part of this in a newspaper the other day. So I did as bit of research. Found it rather moving. Perhaps I had a sheltered youth.

I see by your gravestone you were only 19
When you joined the great fallen of 1916
I hope you died well and I hope you died clean
Or young Willie McBride was it slow and obscene


Prefer June Tabor to the Fureys myself

1st Apr 2002, 00:22
I only recently discovered that a great uncle of mine was killed in a WW1 sea battle just off the Dutch coast. He was a sailor on a Royal Navy cruiser named Aboukir. This ship was part of a triple cruiser convoy. The same German sub sank the other two ships also when they stoppped to pick up survivors.
Here's a link to the story. http://www.geocities.com/darrenmilford/cressy.htm

More than 1400 sailors (mainly Cadets and reservists) were drowned in a matter of hours. Thats the same number as drowned on the Titanic, yet it's a forgotten tragedy.

I believe he joined up after his sister (my great aunt) and two of her children were drowned on a ship that sank en route to the UK from America. I'm not sure about this but I think the ship she was on must have been the Lusitania.
I've been searching for a passenger list on-line to confirm if she was listed. No luck finding a list so far. Can anyone help?

1st Apr 2002, 01:06
Bally Heck, the song you refer to is "The Green Fields of France" by Eric Bogle. Along with "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" by the same author, it is in my opinion one of the greatest anti war songs ever written.
The best version I've heard is by The Corries, beautifully sung with just accoustic guitar accompaniment.
Check out http://www.stoneyport.demon.co.uk/bio/boglebio.html

2nd Apr 2002, 21:59

Try here,
and just enter 'Lusitania' in the ship's name field.
A wonderful thing is Google!


2nd Apr 2002, 22:12
Haven't heard the Corries version PB but the Fureys (sp?) had a hit with it over here.
Last time I saw 'em live, they teamed up with John Schuman who'd also done another strong anti war song with "I was only 19".
Though the emotion in Schuman's opening verse was causing grannies to cry, Finbar's follow up had the theatre flooded. A truly memorable moment.

Eric Bogle - another great Australian artiste (
from somewhere else ) :)

2nd Apr 2002, 22:20
Not many versions beat Eric's own.

Did they beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,
did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
and did the band play the last post and chorus?
And did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

3rd Apr 2002, 04:15
Bally Heck I couldn't access the site you supplied the other night for some reason or other, so the info I posted was superfluous. Sorry about that.:o
Cooda, for some reason or other Bogle's albums are hard to come by over here. I've only got the one, from Stony Plain Records. That's a great little label by the way. They produce a lot of stuff the big labels won't touch. Check 'em out.
I'm a big fan of Ian Tyson. That's where he hangs out.:cool:

3rd Apr 2002, 04:30
Menny 'tanks PB.

I've been a fan of Eric's since 'The Band Played Waltzing Matilda' but never got around to collecting any of his works. :rolleyes:

Will be remedying that before next week's drive to Alice Springs and back....tenk gahd for dat 10 stack CD player :D

I'll have to look at Stoney Plains in more detail. With a name like that you'd swear they were Aussie. :cool: :D

3rd Apr 2002, 08:03
AGree with all previous posts - this has been my favirote folk song for many years. Perhaps the most poignant verse is the last...

"Oh young Willie MacBride, I can't help but wonder why
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Or did they believe when they answered the cause
Did they really deblieve that this war would end wars?

Well, the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain,
The killing and the dying, was all done in vain
For, young Willie MacBride, it all happened again
And again, and again, and again and again."

How true!

3rd Apr 2002, 08:11
John McDermott does a good one too

I'm toying with the idea of producing a CD full of antiwar songs such as this one, with the proceeds for antiwar charities - I have the copyright stuff sorted out - and it's going to be a money-raiser with songs that people have actually heard of ;)

Anybody got any ideas about promoting it or have experience with this sort of thing?


3rd Apr 2002, 12:13
Can't help with the marketing Paco...but put me down for a copy when its produced. :)

3rd Apr 2002, 14:04
Paco, you could do a lot worse than having it listed by Amazon, but what you really need is to have it listed by Amazon affiliates on their own sites.

Best bet is to get in touch with sites that share your feelings and ask them to promote it in their regular newsletters. If you need to get a list of newsletter authors, I can help


4th Apr 2002, 01:25
Cooda yeah it does sound kinda Aussie, but the guy that owns the place is a Swede, Holger Peterson.
Paco, put me down for a copy of that disc. Just an idea, but maybe you should get hold of Stony Plain. As I said, they handle a lot of stuff that others either can't or won't. Probably also wouldn't hurt to check out James Keelaghan. He may be able to put you on track.
www.keelaghan.com/ :cool:

4th Apr 2002, 11:46
Thanks for the tips guys: Just for info, here are some of the tracks I propose to put on, with current sleeve notes, all meant to show the futility of the whole business. Not listed is one called Wiliam Coffey by Graham Cooper, I'm trying to find out where he is (used to be a pal of Harvey Andrews). Of course, any suggestions would be welcome!

Anti-war and protest songs

Some songs with something to say about war and protest, all fine examples of the songwriter’s art. Of course, musicians count too, and so do producers, and this collection shows off their skills as well.

Hey Sandy!
Sandy X was one of the students shot by the National Guard at Kent State campus back in the 60s. The electric guitar that represents her scream when she gets shot is spine-chilling. Written and performed by Harvey Andrews, who shares Gilbert O’Sullivan’s ability to get the maximum amount of words into a line, with the help of Ralph McTell, Cozy Powell, Paul Keogh and Danny Thompson.

Another hard-hitting one from Harvey Andrews, a true story about a paratroop sergeant who laid himself over a bomb to protect nearby children. Not surprisingly, this was banned from the playlist of many local Northern Ireland radio stations.

Ladies Go Dancing at Whitsun
Set to music by the Copper family, based on a poem by John Philip Marshall, this song tells of a village in Sussex whose menfolk went off to war in 1914 with the Royal Sussex Regiment and never came back, so the tradition of dancing round the maypole was carried on by the women. Sung by Martin Carthy with a very effective string arrangement in the background.

A Mac Davies song, well sung by Gary Puckett, who, like Karen Carpenter, can’t have sung a wrong note in his life. His rich voice adds a poignant note to a song about soldiers in Vietnam, or anywhere, missing their homes and wishing they were any place but where they are.

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
An Eric Bogle song, sung by John McDermott, about the 1st World War, in the form of an open letter to Willie McBride, whose grave is being sat upon. McDermott has a way of singing songs in a slower tempo than they should be, making them more graceful. It gets the point of Eric’s words across very well.

The Green Fields of France
Another Bogle/McDermott collaboration, this time about Gallipoli. Some fine violin work in this one.

What Have They Done To The Rain?
No collection of this type would be complete without Malvina Reynolds’ beautiful song (sometimes attributed to Pete seeger). This version is from The Seekers, with Judith Durham’s voice providing an ethereal, ghostly feel.

The Hangman And The Papist
By the Strawbs. Although it has a medieval flavour, it’s actually a comment about Northern Ireland, where relatives often do find themselves pitched against one another. The way the tempo changes towards the climax is very stirring.

The Side Of A Hill
From the Paul Simon Songbook. Nobody could express the futility of it all any better. Or clearer. The words reappear behind the Simon & Garfunkel track, Scarborough Fair, which arrangement was originally obtained from Martin Carthy.

Fighting for Strangers
Steeleye Span

William Coffey
A comment from a VC Winner in his abandoned grave

Any comments?


4th Apr 2002, 12:18
How about the Pogue's song Waltzing Matilda?

Very moving song about young Aussie sent to Gallipoli.

It's on the album Rum, Sodomy and the Lash and probably others

4th Apr 2002, 13:32
the song Soldier, about the sergeant lying on the bomb in Springfield Road barracks didn't make any playlist because I think it was produced privately. At least the copy I seen a long time ago had a plain cardboard sleeve and no title on the record itself. I also have a sneaky feeling it had some prod paramiltary funding involved, that may be wrong, it was a long time ago. I just remeber it being flogged out of the back of cars .
please correct me if thats a made up memory.

good song though.
did the sarge not get the George Medal/Cross? and I think his coffin was pulled through Belfast on a gun carriage.
if its produced anywhere else, shout out, I only have a very poor quality tape of it now.

4th Apr 2002, 14:06
It's on Harvey's Writer of Songs Album - his website is www.harveyandrews.com.

I guess that must have been a bootleg copy. Talking of copies, I'd love to get one of something done by a showband over there, called Belfast, Belfast (Wonderful town, doesn't matter if your skin is brown...) Anyone remember that?


4th Apr 2002, 15:48
er Paco, sounds like a Boney M rip off mate ;)

sorry, couldn't get that web page to work

4th Apr 2002, 20:30
try www.harveyandrews.com

I left a full stop on the end - duh!!


5th Apr 2002, 10:25
Ian Prowse also does a cracking version of "The Green Fields of France" although it was never released through a record company. Can be bought on the "Fireworks" album though www.amsterdam-pele.co.uk

5th Apr 2002, 14:42

'Belfast, Belfast' was written and recorded by Clubsound in Belfast in the 70's.

George Jones, one of the members can be heard daily on the net, Mon- Fri between 1500 - 1700 local time (alpha at the moment).
Try www.bbc.co.uk, go to Northern Ireland region and listen live to Radio Ulster at the above times. I think his e-mail is [email protected] but that could be wrong. He will certainly be able to tell you where to get a copy. Clubsound's 'Shankill Airways' is also worth a listen.


5th Apr 2002, 16:20
Paco: Put me down for a copy.

I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Eric Bogle sing it as part of a John McDermott concert here last October.


5th Apr 2002, 16:26
I would have loved to hear Eric sing it - I heard it when John Mc D was warming up for the Seekers in Brighton.

Thanks for the tip about the showband - will follow it up straightaway!


6th Apr 2002, 19:09
lads, just to prove i wasn't making it up..


Got to have a believin'
Got to have a believin'
Got to have a believin'
All the people
Cause the people are leavin'
When the people believin'
When the people believin'
When the people believin'
All the children cause the children
Are leavin'

Boney M's classic 'Belfast'
<shudder> truly awful

as for George Jones, as they say, he's got the looks of radio star

30th Nov 2002, 06:32
I'm getting near the end of assembling all the tracks I need for the above mentiond CD - does anyone have a copy of The Paul Simon Song Book on CD? I need a copy of On The Side of a Hill to complete the project.



30th Nov 2002, 06:40
JB is amazing. I'd just decided never to come here again as it was all boring rubbish or half-thought-out politics - and I come by a whole thread on one of the greatest anti-war songs I've ever heard that I thought everyone in the world had forgotten except me. You all just restored my faith in people, or the people who inhabit JB anyhow.

And paco, please put me down for a copy of that CD!

BTW, could someone please post the words of the whole song. Despite having listened to my June Tabor tape so many times it's about to wear out, there are a few words I still can't decipher.

30th Nov 2002, 11:31
Whirly if it's the words of Willie Mc Bride your after just click on Bally Heck's link in his first post it's all there.

Deeply moving Bally, thank you for allowing me to become acquanted with it.

30th Nov 2002, 23:49
Paco, still wanta copy. Lemme know when it comes out.

1st Dec 2002, 06:11
Will do! Apparenty the track I want (The Side of a Hill) was on an LP that was only officially issued in UK, and will not come out on CD, so maybe I'll ask a couple of folk singer friends of mine to sing it specially. If anyone's got the LP and can create a wav file, I'll be most grateful.

Incidentally, Eric Bogle did a version on a CD of his songs, Vol 2, but the name was different - it escapes me at the moment.


1st Dec 2002, 18:32
LownSLow asks

>How about the Pogue's song Waltzing Matilda?

>Very moving song about young Aussie sent to Gallipoli.

>It's on the album Rum, Sodomy and the Lash and probably >others

Actually LowNSlow, that is Eric Bogle's 'The Band Played Waltzing Matilda'. Mind you the credit on the CD sleeve notes is in very small print.

'Billy's bones' from the same album is also an anti recruitment song if I'm any judge.

Lyrics for a lot of stuff can be found at Mudcat (something like www.mucat.org errr... try google)


2nd Dec 2002, 12:33
The best version of "The Green Fields of France" was done (in my opinion) by a Scottish band called "North Sea Gas" who normally play in and around Edinburgh (when they're not touring the continent).

Worth checking out if you get a chance.

This thread brings back a few memories, as my parent used to run a folk club over in Germany back in the mid-eighties. Got to meet quite a few "famous" folk singers.