Remembrance Sunday approaches with national gratitude. Respect observed at cenotaphs nationwide. Wartime songs, music and poetry play a significant part as we pay homage to the fallen.
Songs of World War l
At the outbreak of World War l, wartime songs called young men to enlist for the good of King and Country.
One such song was “Your King and Country Want You.” Generally sung by females to encourage males to join the forces.
Marie Lloyd, the music hall star, performed “Now You’ve Got Yer Khaki On” during the first world war.
The escalation of war meant rising numbers of deaths. Recruitment songs all but disappeared.
Instead came the music hall songs which were more upbeat and cheerful. Such as ”When the Boys Come Home” and “Keep the Home Fires Burning.”
“Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile” is the full name of a World War l marching song.
Written by Welsh songwriters, George Henry Powell, under the pseudonym of “George Asaf.” Music set by his brother Felix Powell.
Gareth Malone gives a fascinating, detailed insight into the history of this song. Click on his name to read the article.
Wartime Songs of World War ll
During World War ll wartime songs played a vital role in keeping spirits up.
Wartime songs united people in a shared experience. ‘Forces Sweetheart’ Dame Vera Lynn will always be synonymous with her “We’ll Meet Again” and the “The White Cliffs of Dover.”
In 1941, during the darkest days of the Second World War, Vera Lynn began her own radio programme.
‘Sincerely Yours,’ sent comforting messages to British troops serving abroad.
Wartime songs and music on Remembrance Sunday remains unchanged. The programme agreed and finalised in 1930.
Moreover, it contains wartime songs and music that has become an integral part of our heritage.
‘Nimrod,’ from the ‘Enigma Variations’ by Edward Elgar is always played. Sombre and majestic patriotism.
The ‘Last Post’ plaintive and haunting.
Forever a part of our cultural tradition.
It will always remain an emotional day.