Monday, 11 November 2013

Willy McBride's Reply

A FB poster put up a comment on the relevance of the song The Green Fields of France (TGFoF), better known as 'Willy McBride' on today of all days. 

Searching through Google I came across a scenario that plays out thus: Willy McBride replies to the lyrics written by Eric Bogle to the original song. A song that is lauded by many as a great anti-war, song. The lyrics to Willy's response are penned by Stephen L Suffet. 

The reply sung now by Willy himself is performed using the same tune as TGFoF. The people on the site I found this song regard this response to be a great tribute to Eric Bogle's original. I think it misses the point of not only what Eric strove to achieve; I honestly think that Suffet, the lyricist, has distorted history and has taken Willy in. 

"My dear friend Eric, this is Willie McBride,
Today I speak to you across the divide,
Of years and of distance of life and of death,
Please let me speak freely with my silent breath.

You might think me crazy, you might think me daft,
I could have stayed back in Erin, where there wasn't a draft,
But my parents they raised me to tell right from wrong,
So today I shall answer what you asked in your song.

Yes, they beat the drum slowly, they played the pipes lowly,
And the rifles fired o'er me as they lowered me down,
The band played "The Last Post" in chorus,
And the pipes played "The Flowers of the Forest."

Ask the people of Belgium or Alsace-Lorraine,
If my life was wasted, if I died in vain.
I think they will tell you when all's said and done,
They welcomed this boy with his tin hat and gun.

And call it ironic that I was cut down,
While in Dublin my kinfolk were fighting the Crown.
But in Dublin or Flanders the cause was the same:
To resist the oppressor, whatever his name.

Yes, they beat the drum slowly...,,,.

It wasn't for King or for England I died,
It wasn't for glory or the Empire's pride.
The reason I went was both simple and clear:
To stand up for freedom did I volunteer.

It's easy for you to look back and sigh,
And pity the youth of those days long gone by,
For us who were there, we knew why we died,
And I'd do it again, says Willie McBride."



After nearly a century Willy and his fallen Comrades still stand as though in rank and file


Hmm, no offence to young Willy McBride, but I somehow feel he's been sold an Imperialists version of events. Even after forcing these lads into early graves; or onto ships for the wounded bond for the silence of Circular Quay, the powers that be continue their propaganda.

Down the decades Willy and the hundreds of thousands of the butchered and slain have heard the shrill reminder of military bugles blown in their honour. No peace for these heroes as the great and the good take over the show every November. Sombre faces, graver than even the rows of stones that keep the young fallen on eternal parade.

Indeed, so great is the hypocrisy of a ceremony that was intended to mark the war that ended all wars, that as each and every war is filed away and buried, so the dead are paraded in the grisly roll call of the deceased. Why would we end wars, when we have a cast of unemployed actors willing to perform a dance of death around the cenotaph every year; and soldiers from poor backgrounds willing to make up the roll call.

Hate to break the news to you Willy, you being dead and all. But, there was a massive difference between the causes of people of Flanders and their Irish counterparts in 1914. Little Belgium was never going to be permanently subsumed into a Greater Germanic Empire; she would have returned to being little Belgium after the end of hostilities.

Your Ireland on the other hand, despite promises made to gain support from Irish nationalists prior to the war, was never going to gain independence by peaceful means. Ireland was even denied independent representation, granted to other small countries such as Belgium, at the Peace Conference of 1919.

"So young Willy McBride they fed you a lie
All neatly packaged and easy to buy
For oppression was also their stock in trade
And out in no man's land you were finally betrayed
When a capitalist bullet ripped from you your breath
And lying in agony you went on to meet death." 

5 comments:

  1. So Eric Bogle is entitled to his view, and you're entitled to yours, but Stephen L Suffet (an erudite folk singer) isn't entitled to his.

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    Replies
    1. Stephen L Suffet made his point of view. I disagreed with his view on things.

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  2. Willie McBride was a member of the Royal Irish Fussilers, fermanagh/Tyrone Volunteers (Ulster Volunteer Force) so his kin wernt from Dublin and certantly wouldnt have taken part in the Easter Rising that was fround upon even by local Dubliners as most of their men where in France fighting. It was looked on as stabbing them in the back.

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  3. Willie McBride was a member of the Royal Irish Fussilers, fermanagh/Tyrone Volunteers (Ulster Volunteer Force) so his kin wernt from Dublin and certantly wouldnt have taken part in the Easter Rising that was fround upon even by local Dubliners as most of their men where in France fighting. It was looked on as stabbing them in the back.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Excuse the spelling.... Fusiliers

    ReplyDelete

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