Eric Bogle – The Green Fields of France

With just seven days to the commemoration of Armistice Day, or what we now call¬†Remembrance Day,¬†here’s a moving story written and performed by Eric Bogle.

The aspect ratio is not right, (they’re all a bit thinner than reality) but it’s a lovely rendition with Eric accompanied by some of his mates.

The lyrics are below the video.

Oh how do you do, young Willie McBride
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside?
And rest for a while in the warm summer sun
I’ve been walking all day, and I’m nearly done
And I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the great fallen in 1916
Well I hope you died quick, and I hope you died clean
Or Willie McBride, was is it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drums slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the last post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined?
And though you died back in 1916
To that loyal heart you’re forever nineteen
Or are you a stranger without even a name?
Forever enshrined behind some old glass pane
In an old photograph torn, tattered, and stained
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame

Did they beat the drums slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the last post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

The sun shining down on these green fields of France
The warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance
The trenches have vanished long under the plow
No gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now
But here in this graveyard that’s still no man’s land
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man’s blind indifference to his fellow man
And a whole generation were butchered and damned

Did they beat the drums slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the last post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

And I can’t help but wonder oh Willie McBride
Do all those who lie here know why they died
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause
Did you really believe that this war would end wars
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
The killing and dying it was all done in vain
Oh Willie McBride it all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again

Did they beat the drums slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the last post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

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