Soldiers’ Song and Slang of the Great War is an update and enlargement of a book first published in 1931. The current book includes phrases that were deemed inappropriate in earlier editions. The slang is both mystifying and well known. For example, a “goo wallah” is the sanitary man. Other items such as a “flapper’s delight” for a young officer are self-explanatory even now.
The songs lack any musical notations and only the lyrics are printed. Many use melodies set to well-known tunes—those by Gilbert and Sullivan seem to be popular as are folk melodies from the British countryside. The lyrics are commentaries on life at the front, the memories of home, and patriotic themes. By war’s end parodies are widespread. Songs from America and France are included, even “Adieu la Vie” (Chanson of Craonne) which was banned in France until 1974. The English translation is buried in the appendix, but is worth finding. The song is an indictment by the soldiers in the field of their treatment by the French army and government.
The Home Front in the Great War covers the British home front and the Hull area in detail. There is a chronological section at the beginning that provides an overview of events back in “Blighty,” followed by short essays on the efforts by groups from the Royals to the YMCA to support of the war effort. The report on the Boy Scouts is especially laudatory.
Both books use a good variety of images and are entertaining to read. Unfortunately, neither book has an index, making it almost impossible to use them for reference purposes.
A Message from the WW1HA President:
14 March 2022
On Saturday March 12 the WW1HA hosted its first ever online quiz night. This was a fun way to get geographically distant members together virtually. We are considering doing this a few times a year.
The next issue of World War One Illustrated (WWOI) will be printed shortly. Members/subscribers should receive their printed issue in the next month or so.
Members are encouraged to participate in the monthly online seminars hosted by the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter; and we plan to announce a gathering of WW1HA members at the National World War I Museum’s Fall 2022 symposium. Stay tuned!
Do you have a special interest or knowledge regarding a WW1 topic? Consider sharing your knowledge by writing an article for WWOI or a shorter blog post (500 – 1,000 words) for the WW1HA Facebook page. Talk to Editor Ed Klekowski (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Charles Van Way (email@example.com) for more details.
Finally, you can always reach out to me with your thoughts or questions.