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Battle Of The Somme


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#1 PeterT

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 04:19 PM

As most members will surely know, today marks the 90th anniversary of the start of this battle, with the terrible casualties which followed.

Both of my grandfathers fought in the battle; luckily not in the first week, otherwise I doubt that they would have survived, and I would not be here today. So, I have a lot to be thankful for.

Does anyone play the tune "Battle of the Somme", which was, as far as I am aware, written during the battle? I've played it for as many years as I can remember, but heard it played both as a slow march, and lament, whilst I lived in Scotland (1991/4).

Regards,
Peter.

#2 Leo

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 05:08 PM

Am kinda new at this stuff, however you caught me looking up something else, and came accross this:

BATTLE OF THE SOMME, THE. Scottish, Retreat March (9/8 time). D Major. Standard. AABB. This pipe tune, a retreat from Army Manual (Book 2) and composed by William Laurie (1882-1916) commemorates one of the greatest and most terrible battles of World War I. Jack Campin communicates that Laurie "just lived to see it become an immediate success before dying of his wounds a few months later.” “The retreat march is not necessarily a march time tune which would be marched to,” explains Stuart Eydmann; rather, “as often as not it was played as part of the evening ritual in military camps as day duties gave way to night ones. It was not linked to the military manoeuvre of retreating in or from battle but was linked to the idea of refuge and safety in the camp.” Gatherer (Gatherer’s Musicial Museum), 1987; pg. 20. Martin (Ceol na Fidhle), Vol. 2, 1988; pg. 39. Front Hall FHR‑024, Fennig's All‑Star String Band ‑ "Fennigmania" (1981. Learned from the Albion Country Band).

[links/notation removed]

Hope it works
Thanks
Leo
Edited to add where from

Edited by Paul Schwartz, 05 September 2006 - 07:03 PM.


#3 PeterT

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 05:54 PM

Excellent, Leo, thanks. :)

#4 Lester Bailey

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 02:26 AM

A good companion for the Battle of the Somme is the Heights of Dargai:

"On the 20th October 1897, assaults by the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment, the 2nd Battalion Derbyshire Regiment, and the 2nd Battalion Ghurkhas, with the Sikh Infantry, failed to gain any ground on Dargai. Early in the afternoon Colonel Mathias addressed the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders saying, "The hill must be taken at all costs....the Gordon Highlanders will take it!"

The Battalion Pipers, Kidd, Milne, Fraser, Wills and Findlater led the charge with Colonel Mathias at the front. Piper Findlater was wounded in both ankles during the initial charge over 150 yards of open ground from a hail of bullets from the "Heights". Nevertheless he continued to play on the bagpipes, leaning against a boulder, encouraging the "cocky wee Gordons" up the steep mountainous slopes of Dargai.

To the sounds of the Pipers and strains of "Cock O’ The North" and "The Haughs O’ Cromdale" the Gordons had stormed the "Heights Of Dargai" in approximately forty minutes, a climb of some 1,000 feet. By 3.15pm the Gordon Highlanders had taken and secured Dargai, and thereafter assisted in taking the wounded of all the regiments down to the hospital tents.

On the 16th May 1898 Queen Victoria visited the hospital and presented the Victoria Cross to Findlater"

[notation removed]

#5 JimLucas

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 04:07 AM

As most members will surely know, today marks the 90th anniversary of the start of this battle, with the terrible casualties which followed.

I wonder how many Americans are aware of this battle and its magnitude. Until two days ago, I wasn't. Not being a fan of history of militaries or wars, most of my knowledge of WWI comes from what I learned in school, which can be pretty well summarized as:

The archduke was shot, and war began.

America tried to stay "neutral".

We finally entered The War,
"To save freedom and democracy."

We sent a lot of soldiers "over there",
Who suffered trench warfare and poison gas,
Turned the tide, won the war,
And "saved" Europe.

I don't remember being taught anything about battles that happened before Americans became involved, and precious little even about American battles. The one and only name I remember is "The Marne".

Is my experience unusual? I suspect not. I think that few Americans are aware of The Sonne. But at least now I am.

#6 Laitch

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 10:15 AM

Thanks, Peter, for the reminder, and thanks, Leo and Lester, for the tunes and information.

. . . Not being a fan of history of militaries or wars, most of my knowledge of WWI comes from what I learned in school, . . ..

I don't remember being taught anything about battles that happened before Americans became involved, and precious little even about American battles. The one and only name I remember is "The Marne".

Is my experience unusual? I suspect not. . . .

Your experience is your experience, Jim, and your lack of knowledge is the result of your avoiding teaching yourself about some of the unpleasant major events and methods that shape the course of nations. In that, you probably have more company than just some Americans.

#7 AnnC

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 03:27 PM

Does anyone play the tune "Battle of the Somme", which was, as far as I am aware, written during the battle? I've played it for as many years as I can remember, but heard it played both as a slow march, and lament, whilst I lived in Scotland (1991/4).

Regards,
Peter.

I play it as the middle tune in a set, Arran Boat song to start then Battle of the Somme (retreat march tempo) changing into a brisk Earl of Mansfield to finish.
Both my granfathers came back from WW1 but several of my great uncles did not, one served with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers and was killed in one of the first major battles, no remains ever recovered, Gran always found it too painfull to talk about.

#8 PeterT

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 05:34 PM

Gran always found it too painfull to talk about.

I recorded several hours of material from my paternal grandfather, when he was aged 90. About two hours of it covered WW1. He could talk about the horrors of it; things that you would not wish on your worst enemy.

Mum said that her father was so badly affected that he often used to wake in the night, screaming with nightmares. He was a musician, and was the one-man band in "Passport to Pimlico", for which he was paid £25 per day whilst filming. This was the late 1940's and I think that the average weekly wage was about £8.

Regards,
Peter.

#9 Rod Newman

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 06:09 PM

[/quote]
I play it as the middle tune in a set, Arran Boat song to start then Battle of the Somme (retreat march tempo) changing into a brisk Earl of Mansfield to finish.
Both my granfathers came back from WW1 but several of my great uncles did not, one served with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers and was killed in one of the first major battles, no remains ever recovered, Gran always found it too painfull to talk about.
[/quote]

My grandfather was one of my music inspirations. After family dinners, at my grandparent's home, we would all gather round the piano and sing. Some of the songs were those he sang serving in a Canadian infantry regiment in WW1.

His battalion was in the Battle of the Somme. He was wounded twice (the battle lasted over four months, so he was sent back to the trenches after recovering from his first wound). As a curious young boy, I asked a lot of questions. The stories he told me of trench warfare were not pretty.

Long before I ever heard the song "Christmas in the Trenches", describing the 1914 Christmas in the British/German lines, he told me the story as he had heard it as a soldier. It's a powerful song, and a powerful message.

Rod

Edited by Rod Newman, 02 July 2006 - 06:41 PM.


#10 Woody

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 03:31 AM

We finally entered The War,
"To save freedom and democracy."


For clarification purposes....

Countries rarely join in wars solely for such noble ideals, though U.S. President Wilson did list making the world safe for democracy and western civilization as reasons. Wilson kept the U.S out of the war for years saying "America was too proud to fight", despite "freedom and democracy" being under threat. He preferred instead to persue a policy of trying to mediate a compromise - efforts not taken seriously by either side. In his 1916 Election Campaign Wilson's major campaign slogan was "He kept us out of the war."


Major factors that over time altered U.S. policy leading them to declare war against Germany can be summarised....

- because of German submarine attacks on U.S. merchant ships

- because of the German submarine attack on the British passenger ship Lusitania killing 1198 people including 128 Americans and almost 100 children.

- because of the exposure of Germany's secret attempts to form an alliance with Mexico that included a plan, should the U.S. enter the war against them, for Germany to supply weaponry to aid Mexico to retake the states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

- because of large financial interest in the U.S. linked to the victory of the Allies - American loans to the Allies soared to $2.25 billion; loans to Germany stood at $27 million. This was evidenced in the lobbying of politicians and through the bias in reporting in the major newspapers owned by those with vested interests.

- Wall St was very pro American participation as it was seen as an opportunity for business. Indeed the war created 21,000 new American millionaires and during the war period, 69,000 men made more than three billion dollars over and above their normal income.


As I understand it, the final event that led America into the war was when Germany announced that it would begin unrestricted submarine warfare (following a period when, due to U.S. threats, it had stopped such attacks) in an effort to break British control of the seas and lift the blockade of Germany that was crippling German industrial output. In protest the United States broke off relations with Germany (Feb., 1917), and on Apr. 6 it entered the war.


The official case published to the American people in 1918 as propoganda to bolster support for continued participation cited the following reasons.............

1. The renewal by Germany of her submarine warfare.
2. Imperial Germany was running amok as an international desperado
3. Prussian Militancy and autocracy let loose in the world disturbed the balance of power and threatened to destroy the international equilibrium.
4. The conflict [had gradually shaped] into a war between the democratic nations on one hand and autocratic on the other.
5. [America's] tradition of isolation had been outgrown and could no longer be maintained in the age of growing interdependency.
6. Because of the menace to the Monroe Doctrine and to [America's] independence.

#11 JimLucas

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 04:19 AM

We finally entered The War,
"To save freedom and democracy."

For clarification purposes.... [details elided]

I thought my use of quote marks was sufficient "clarification", i.e., that that's what I was taught, but I wasn't claiming it as my own belief. The purpose of my post wasn't to teach -- or correct -- history, but to summarize what I had been taught. And perhaps to suggest that I felt that what I was taught was at best "inadequate".

#12 Woody

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 05:00 AM

We finally entered The War,
"To save freedom and democracy."

For clarification purposes.... [details elided]

I thought my use of quote marks was sufficient "clarification", i.e., that that's what I was taught, but I wasn't claiming it as my own belief. The purpose of my post wasn't to teach -- or correct -- history, but to summarize what I had been taught. And perhaps to suggest that I felt that what I was taught was at best "inadequate".


Hi Jim,

I understand that and it wasn't my intention to imply otherwise. If I in any way gave that impression I appologise.

I posted my clarification because what you were taught is the sort of nonsense we all seem to get taught regardless of where we come from, and because there might be others that read your post who, unlike your good self, didn't appreciate that this possibly wasn't the reason for going to war.

In this case, I was taught that Britain went to war to stop German Imperialist aggression (because of course Britain has never been responsible for Imperialist agression :rolleyes: ). A lot of the people that died in WW1 were also fed the same sort of nonsense - quite possibly including the poor bloke that wrote the tune.

I thought it might be appropriate to add some clarification pointing out the difference between what you were taught (and what is quite commonly believed I feel) and the real motivations at the time.

If you feel it appropriate I'm quite happy to remove my post

- W

#13 AnnC

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 05:31 AM

Gran always found it too painfull to talk about.

I recorded several hours of material from my paternal grandfather, when he was aged 90. About two hours of it covered WW1. He could talk about the horrors of it; things that you would not wish on your worst enemy.

Mum said that her father was so badly affected that he often used to wake in the night, screaming with nightmares. He was a musician, and was the one-man band in "Passport to Pimlico", for which he was paid £25 per day whilst filming. This was the late 1940's and I think that the average weekly wage was about £8.

Regards,
Peter.

I used to work with a man who's Dad had been a Regimental Piper, he was one of the few survivors from his regiment and when he got home after the war he never played in public again, he had been in demand to play for dances/weddings etc but couldn't face playing infront of people as it brought back memories of his dead friends. When he was very depressed he'd lock himself in the bathroom with his pipes and play laments then he'd pack his pipes away, not to be touched until the next time he needed to get rid of his grief.

#14 m3838

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 03:17 PM

Here's another motivation "we" were taught.

Young Imperialist Germany, freshly united and fast developing, felt too tight in the common equilibrium of powers, where France and Britain dominated the world. It too, needed colonies, markets etc.
But French and British capitalists didn't want to give up their profits. In the same time the opression of the working class mounted and more and more profit was squeeze out of them, new technologies demanded more productivity and greedy capitalist offered less pay. Hunger and poverty spread. The ruling elite needed something to steer the anger of the revolutionized working classes away. The war was brewing.
In addition social-democtatic movements in European countries betraied the workers and voted in support of the nationalism and war. The Second International was dead. This was a preclusion to the injust, Imperialist war, that only served the interests of the ruling classes and against the proletarians in all the countries involved.

I personally am very moved by the WWI. Moreso than WWII. May be it's time, when 19 century ended and new, 20 century began, and cought people unprepared. The look of those soldiers, the uniforms, the partiarchical lifestile at home, combined with air strikes, electricity powered dreadnoghtes, magnitudes of casualties... Just mind boggling. On personal level I can't understand what motivated the Kaizer, a young intellectual person with crippled arm, relative of Russian Tzar, grandson of British Queen, with whom he was in family relations, with a country that was doing very well economically, politically and culturally.
In 1911 Russian Tzar visited his relative Kaizer and they both dressed in each other's uniforms, and went hunting. The reason for the visit was discussion of relations, specifically to avoid the war, that Russia didn't need after the terrible defeat by Japan a few years earlier. A defeat, prompting Japan to attack US 20 years later.

#15 m3838

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 02:50 AM

http://www.streamloa...ianSoldiers.jpg

Edited by m3838, 04 July 2006 - 02:57 AM.


#16 Dirge

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 02:54 AM

Anyone got a concertina they can actually guarantee went to the Western front? (If it had a shrapnell wound that would be even more impressive!)

#17 Paul Woloschuk

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 03:56 AM

Does anyone play the tune "Battle of the Somme", which was, as far as I am aware, written during the battle? I've played it for as many years as I can remember, but heard it played both as a slow march, and lament, whilst I lived in Scotland (1991/4).
Regards,
Peter.

I too have been playing this lovely tune for many years.

#18 PeterT

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 04:53 AM

I too have been playing this lovely tune for many years.

Hi Paul,

Assuming that you play it on the duet, do you play it in the key of C?

Regards,
Peter.

PS - it can be a very haunting tune, if played as a lament, and I've just remembered that we played it at the funeral of one of our Morris dancers back in 1995; just fiddle and concertina together.




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