The Green Fields of France

Two versions of one of the most moving songs about The Great War — The Green Fields of France (also known as No Man’s Land), written by Scottish-born folk singer-songwriter Eric Bogle in 1976.
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The Green Fields of France performed by The Fureys and Davey Arthur.

The Green Fields of France performed by Eric Bogle

The Daily Retro: A Postcard about a German Sailor’s Song from 1850

The Müscleheaded Blog

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” Row me across, handsome sailor
Row me to the Rialto.
Here, take this necklace as your recompense;
I earmarked it for you long ago.
The sailor says: “No, Gianetta!
That fee is really too small,
And if I am to row you across
It cannot be for such a price!”

Row me across, handsome sailor,
I know a wondrously lovely song,
I shall sing it for you while the gondola
Glides over the soft waves.
The sailor says: “No, Gianetta!
I will not row for such a wage,
Of what use is your most beautiful song?
The sweet sounds vanish all too quickly!”

Take this wreath of roses as a fee,
It is the best thing that I possess,
On Easter morning the bishop
Blessed and consecrated it.
The sailor says: “No, Gianetta!
The wreath of roses is not enough for me,
Have you nothing better to give…

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It’s a Ticklish Sort of Job…

Gracie Fields shares a joke with troops in a village near Valenciennes, France, April 1940

Gracie Fields shares a joke with troops in a village near Valenciennes, France, April 1940 | Taylor E A (Lt), War Office official photographer [Wikimedia]

In the early 1990s, actor-musician Martyn Read and I created a musical stage production, Business as Usual, from a compilation piece I had put together about life on the Home Front during the Second World War. Included in the show was this delightful song which honours those quietly going about their business helping the war effort by working in munitions.

The Thing-Ummy-Bob (that’s going to win the war)

You’ve heard of Florence Nightingale, Grace Darling and the rest,
You’ve all seen Greta Garbo and her bosom friend, Mae West,
But there’s a little lady, I want you all to meet
She’s working on munitions and she lives just down the street.

She can’t pretend to be, a great celebrity
But still… she’s most important in her way,
The job she has to do, may not seem like much to you
But all the same, I’m very proud to say…

She’s the girl that makes the thing that drills the hole
that holds the spring that drives the rod that turns the knob
that works the thing-ummy-bob.
She’s the girl that makes the thing that holds the oil
that oils the ring that takes the shank that moves the crank
that works the thing-ummy-bob.

It’s a ticklish sort of job making a thing for a thing-ummy-bob
Especially when you don’t know what it’s for
But it’s the girl that makes the thing that drills the hole
that holds the spring that works the thing-ummy-bob
that makes the engines roar.
And it’s the girl that makes the thing that holds the oil
that oils the ring that works the thing-ummy-bob
that’s going to win the war.

She’s not what you would call, a heroine, at all
I don’t suppose you’ll even know her name
And though she’ll never boast, of her important post
She strikes a blow for Britain just the same.

She’s the girl that makes the thing that drills the hole
that holds the spring that drives the rod that turns the knob
that works the thing-ummy-bob.
She’s the girl that makes the thing that holds the oil
that oils the ring that takes the shank that moves the crank
that works the thing-ummy-bob.

It’s a ticklish sort of job making a thing for a thing-ummy-bob
Especially when you don’t know what it’s for
But it’s the girl that makes the thing that drills the hole
that holds the spring that works the thing-ummy-bob
that makes the engines roar.
And it’s the girl that makes the thing that holds the oil
that oils the ring that works the thing-ummy-bob
that’s going to win the war.

Gracie Fields [1898-1979] sings her version, below, changing the ‘she’ to ‘I’.