Still In The War, Boys!

by The Crows Of Albion

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about

From Declaration Of War to Armistice - this is the story of the first world war in poetry and music

credits

released October 3, 2014

UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED:

ALL WORDS: Ian Whiteley
ALL MUSIC: Martin Heaton & Ian Whiteley

ALL VOCALS: Ian Whiteley
ALL INSTRUMENTS: Martin Heaton

RECORDED AT: The Music Projects, Wigan (17th April - 20th August 2014)
PRODUCED BY: Martin Heaton & Ian Whiteley
ENGINEERED & MIXED BY: Martin Heaton

license

all rights reserved

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Track Name: Declaration Of War
“It was eleven o’clock at night – twelve by German time – when the ultimatum expired. The windows of the Admiralty were thrown wide open in the warm night air. Under the roof from which Nelson had received his orders were gathered a small group of admirals and captains and a cluster of clerks, pencils in hand, waiting. Along the Mall from the direction of the Palace the sound of an immense concourse singing ‘God save the King’ flouted in. On this deep wave there broke the chimes of Big Ben; and, as the first stroke of the hour boomed out, a rustle of movement swept across the room. The war telegram, which meant, “Commence hostilities against Germany”, was flashed to the ships and establishments under the White Ensign all over the world. I walked across the Horse Guards Parade to the Cabinet room and reported to the Prime Minister and the Ministers who were assembled there that the deed was done.”
POETRY FORM: Narrative
Track Name: The Bicycle Scout
The Bicycle Scout

bicycle wheel spins in blood drenched Belgian hops
as the echo of a gunshot fades away
behind the gorse hedgerow Private John Parr drops
amid the yellow hypnotic summer sway
he is the first scythe-cut of Britain’s young crops
many come to deathly harvest from this day
and when the madness eventually stops
for him, and those that follow, the world will pray
Track Name: Angel Of Mons
Angel of Mons

Perhaps it was the heartbeat of the guns
Thump-thumping in a cacophonic rage,
or the secret, sly, scurry of the rats
that banished sleep those first nights at the front.
For when I marched, the sky became a wall,
the moonlight through the dust made me believe
I saw some great cathedral in the gloom,
with windows of stained glass cast from the stars.

We lay upon the slick and oozing wounds,
etched deep into the body of the land,
for so long that the earth began to draw
us back towards its decayed, tombstone, teeth.
Oh, for the archers fresh from Agincourt
to cloud the skies with arrows quilled with hope.
Alas, poor Machen’s bowmen stayed at home,
safe in soft sheets of the Evening News.

I prayed and drowned beneath the tide of blood.
Just as all faith began to ebb away
a cry rang out across the Flanders fields
of “Adsit Anglis Sanctus Georgius”,
and to my tired eyes I thought I saw
a figure clothed in gold rise from the mud.
With wings unfurled and flaming sword held high
this angel led us from the hell of Mons.
Track Name: White Feather
White Feather

I didn’t see her pass me in the street,
the woman with the husband at the front,
but felt the tell-tale tickle of a feather -
pressed discreetly soft against my palm.
The accusation whispered in a hate-filled voice,
“Coward”, dripped with venom from her lips
and I assumed she talked to me, although I couldn’t see
if the feather in my hand was truly white.
For I had returned blind from a skirmish overseas -
a fact, to which, the spiteful wife was blind.
Though unlike her, I had lost my sight, not through ignorance,
just mustard gas and pure white blast
of ordnance designed to hurt and maim.

I asked myself, if Jesus Christ had deigned to walk the earth
in these testing times of blood and hate and war,
would he have volunteered to go to fight in France
or would he have stood in line with men of conscience
and received the burning ridicule and misdirected spittle
flung in their faces as they declared themselves pacifist?

Would he have taken arms with intent to kill a fellow man
who he had never met, in a ditch across the waves -
and would that seething woman, have pressed into his hand
a feather, white, with all that that entails
and branded Christ a coward in the eyes of the self righteous?

would she?
would she?
would she?

and if not – then she should think
upon the nature of a man
and ask herself
who is the brave
and who the bravest…..
Track Name: Remember Scarborough!
Remember Scarborough!

The day our town was visited by war,
we hardly had the time to ring the bells.
The bairns were playing on our golden shore
and savouring the fish and seaweed smells,
building castles of sand, collecting shells,
though these were not of molluscs but of steel -
and all at once a thousand blazing hells
fell from the sky with each chiming peel.
Remember Scarborough –our wounds will never heal

There were over a hundred Yorkshire dead
A battery that flattened promenade
destroyed cliffs as far as Flamborough Head
brought death to each and every back yard
there would be no pretty picture postcard.
It took all of these honest folk to die
Before England finally raised its guard
The posters henceforth raised the battle cry
“Remember Scarborough” the Hun are nigh!
Track Name: Home By Christmas (In The Bleak Mid Winter)
Home By Christmas

I fear I let my feelings rule my head,
that you would have no trouble getting leave.
You would be home by Christmas as they said.

All through the Autumn, sleeping cold in bed,
I dreamt of all our marriage would achieve.
I fear I let my feelings rule my head.

Not since the day that both of us were wed
had we missed carols, sung that holy eve.
You would be home by Christmas as they said.

Yet, as the letters came, all proudly read,
your tales of valour soon made me believe.
I fear I let my feelings rule my head.

Friends home on leave said you had taken lead -
only wounded, it hardly tore your sleeve.
You would be home by Christmas as they said.

The truth was that my husband, dear, was dead -
His body boxed and sent back, I could grieve.
I fear I let my feelings rule my head,
you would be home by Christmas as they said.

-------------------------------

In the bleak mid winter, frosty winds made moan.
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.
Snow had fallen snow on snow, snow upon snow
in the bleak mid winter - many years ago.
Track Name: War Boys
War Boys

“YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU”

We’re going to war boys,
we’re going to war,
Lord Kitchener asked us
so we formed a corps.
Joe and Jack from the factory,
Ted and Jim from the farm,
the recruiting sergeant assures us
that there’s little chance of harm.
We’re part of the great pals army
and we’ve fallen for his charm
as we march away to war.

We’re in the war boys,
we’re in the war,
we think we were lied to
but we’re not too sure.
Bullets are flying everywhere
some of them get quite near,
our cocky, jaunty demeanour
is now riddled through with fear.
Our pals are dying everywhere
and there’s no time to shed a tear
as we fight this blooming war.

We’re sick of the war boys,
we’re sick of the war,
we’ve had enough of it,
can’t take any more.
I’ve seen friends explode in pieces,
I’ve seen bone and guts and blood,
and everywhere we march
there’s this terrible fucking mud
and when a shell flies by you
you’re just praying it’s a dud.
We’re so sick of this war.

I’m home from war boys,
I’m home from war,
just me on my own, boys,
from a hundred and four.
They died like cattle in the field,
cut down by bayonet and shell,
sucked into the earth
like they were journeying to hell.
All my friends died horribly,
only I was left to tell
of the boys who went to war.

I’m still in the war boys,
I’m still in the war,
I talk to friends who
were with me before.
I see their muddy faces,
I hear their mournful boasts,
buried under Flanders fields
so they can’t desert their posts.
I’m no longer with the living
I’m just drifting with the ghosts
of the boys who went to war.
Track Name: Slamming Flies
Slamming Flies

Arriving at the Dardanelles -
guns flashing, the sound of rifle fire,
they heaved our ship up to the shore.
my nerves as taut as cheese wire.
We sat there waiting for the dawn
and saw a big marquee
that made us think of village fetes.
We had to go and see.

Like boys going to a circus,
we all rushed up to get in -
but found it all laced up –
and then we heard the buzzing.
Unlaced and pulled back,
It was full of dead Englishmen.
with their eyes wide open.
We hoped we knew none of them.

We all stopped talking.
I’d never seen a dead man before -
then three hundred - all at once!
God damn this bloody war.
The next day we reached ‘dead ground’,
where the enemy couldn’t see you,
and we wandered it in the evening –
we had little else to do.

asking about friends
who had arrived
a month before.
Had they survived?
“How’s Ernie Taylor?”
“Have you seen Albert Jones?”
“Ernie and Albert? They’re gone”
Just a few of the million bones.

It taught us that our names
were unimportant
It taught us that our chances
were scant.
We reached a trench so full of dead men
that we could hardly move.
There was a cloying stink.
There was nothing left to prove.




For a while there was nothing
but the living hordes
being sick upon the dead.
Splattering the boards
We set to work to bury them,
pushed them into the sides
of the trench –
there was nowhere left to hide.

but bits kept getting uncovered
and sticking out at angles,
like people in a badly made bed.
All flop and hang and dangles.
Hands were the worst,
they would escape from the sand,
pointing, begging, even waving!
Across the destroyed land.

There was one we all shook
as we passed,
saying “Good Morning”
Ignoring as it gassed.
The bottom of the trench
was springy like a mattress
because of all the bodies underneath.
A carpet of battle dress.

Then the flies came
and lined the walls completely
with a density that was like a moving cloth.
Rippling, discreetly.
We killed millions by slamming
our spades along trench walls
but the next night it would be just as bad.
Clanging like a church bell calls.

We wept,
not because we were scared
but because we were so dirty.
None of us were spared.
Our Souls withered and died.
In this place of fetid smell
and we, the uninvited guests,
were all damned to hell.
Track Name: It's A Long Way To Tipperary
It's a Long Way to Tipperary

It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square!
It's a long, long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.

That's the wrong way to tickle Mary,
That's the wrong way to kiss!
Don't you know that over here, lad,
They like it best like this!
Hooray pour le Francais!
Farewell, Angleterre!
We didn't know the way to tickle Mary,
But we learned how, over there!

It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square!
It's a long, long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.

It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square!
It's a long, long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.
Track Name: Grandchildren Of The Somme
Grandchildren Of The Somme

the dead lay on the injured earth
all wearing grey death masks of mud
a tally of what life is worth
just bone and sinew flesh and blood

attrition wrought its deadly cost
the river Somme held back its flood
humanity forever lost
just bone and sinew flesh and blood

sixteen miles wide and just six deep
survivors wondered if they could
block out the dreams that came in sleep
just bone and sinew flesh and blood

under blue skies and green fields bright
grandchildren gather where they stood
and count the rows of crosses white
just bone and sinew flesh and blood
Track Name: 1916
1916

16 years old when I went to the war,
To fight for a land fit for heroes,
God on my side, and a gun in my hand,
Chasing my days down to zero,
And I marched and I fought and I bled and I died,
And I never did get any older,
But I knew at the time that a year in the line,
Was a long enough life for a soldier,

We all volunteered, and we wrote down our names,
And we added two years to our ages,
Eager for life and ahead of the game,
Ready for history's pages,
And we brawled and we fought and we whored 'til we stood,
Ten thousand shoulder to shoulder,
A thirst for the Hun, we were food for the gun,
And that's what you are when you're soldiers,

I heard my friend cry, and he sank to his knees,
Coughing blood as he screamed for his mother,
And I fell by his side, and that's how we died,
Clinging like kids to each other,
And I lay in the mud and the guts and the blood,
And I wept as his body grew colder,
And I called for my mother and she never came,
Though it wasn't my fault and I wasn't to blame,
The day not half over and ten thousand slain,
And now there's nobody remembers our names,
And that's how it is for a soldier.
Track Name: Dead Men's Boots
Dead Men’s Boots

tough as old leather
their souls worn down
eyes vacant of lace
collected by the door
the day they swapped
their pit-boots
for the Kings shilling
and donned their shiny
new military issue

there they stayed
gathering dust
and old potatoes
in their safe grasp
neatly lined
waiting for the return
of father and two sons
to the safety
of their hearth

day after day after day
sometimes kicked askew
but always realigned
like a row
of invisible soldiers
standing to attention
silent and obedient
unquestioning
and stoic

until the morning
that a knock came
to the peeling door
and a telegram
fluttered from the fingers
of wife and mother
coming to rest
across these
dead men’s boots
Track Name: Craiglockhart (Not Yet Diagnosed Nervous)
Craiglockhart (Not Yet Diagnosed Nervous)

I kicked over the wheelchair
- couldn’t do the simplest task,
except the epileptic flailing
of my army antimasque.
the hissing gas-lamp
had me reaching for the mask.
You opened up my mind
and you didn’t even ask.

I’m like a marionette
with twisted strings,
my limbs are jack-knifing
and my inner ear sings
of the pain of war
and other perverse things.
I can’t find the peace
a hospital brings.

CHORUS
Sh-sh-sh shut the fuck up,
I think I’m going insane,
I’ve got all these bombs
going off in my brain.
I’m like a rabid dog
at the end of it’s chain
they’re gonna send me back
to the front again.

No matter how obedient
your soldiers of war,
when shells reign down
they’ll be shaken to the core,
until there comes a time
when they can’t take anymore
and their minds shut down
behind a closed door.

You think it might be shock waves,
or poison from the shells
that’s making me withdraw
into this epileptic hell
- sometimes you shrug your shoulders
- say “we just can’t tell,
if it’s lack of moral fibre
that’s making him unwell”.

REPEAT CHORUS

Your treatments are barbaric,
Persuade, Explain, Suggest
- baths, massage, electric shocks
are really for the best,
when all my mind needs
Is aching, morbid rest,
and not feeling like a rat
in a cataclysmic test.

You put me in this chapel
you sit me in this chair
you give me books to read
and feign a sense of care -
but one day I will walk from here
and people will not stare
at the dancing crazy fucker.
The Craiglockhart nightmare.

REPEAT CHORUS
Track Name: Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit-Bag
Pack up your Troubles

Private Perks is a funny little codger
With a smile a funny smile.
Five feet none, he's and artful little dodger
With a smile a funny smile.
Flush or broke he'll have his little joke,
He can't be suppress'd.
All the other fellows have to grin
When he gets this off his chest, Hi!

Chorus
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile,
While you've a lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that's the style.
What's the use of worrying?
It never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile.

Private Perks went a-marching into Flanders
With his smile his funny smile.
He was lov'd by the privates and commanders
For his smile his funny smile.
When a throng of Bosches came along
With a mighty swing,
Perks yell'd out, "This little bunch is mine!
Keep your heads down, boys and sing, Hi!

Repeat Chorus

Private Perks he came back from Bosche-shooting
With his smile his funny smile.
Round his home he then set about recruiting
With his smile his funny smile.
He told all his pals, the short, the tall,
What a time he'd had;
And as each enlisted like a man
Private Perks said 'Now my lad,' Hi!

Repeat Chorus
Track Name: Dulce Et Decorum Est
DULCE ET DECORUM EST

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!---An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,---
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Track Name: Passchendaele
Passchendaele

Blind, wide open, eyes.
Dripping poppy petal tears.
Crimson rivers flow.

Fields transformed to mud.
Deep cut trenches scar the earth.
Wounds that will not heal.

Gas clouds drift from hell.
Death exhaled in fetid breath.
Lost boys fall like flies.

Ghosts haunt no mans land
searching for their bitter souls
in butchered bodies.

Finding empty shells,
cold bullet riddled corpses.
Nameless and broken.

First light cracks the dark
Holy, holy Seraphim
burn the battlefield.

No place for God here.
Just the stench of charnel house
and false politics.

Loss of Innocence
on Golgotha’s barbaric
ridge at Passchendaele.
Track Name: Canary Girl
Canary Girl

When she went there her eyes were clear,
just seventeen, her skin was fair.
She was my love, my Jeanie dear,
she wore blue ribbons in her hair
of blond, and I could only stare
and wonder at her beauty wild.
The sweet songbird - my only child.

She had a voice that raised good cheer,
when Jeanie sang we were aware
in chapels (and after a beer),
that angel song was not as rare
as what my daughter chose to share.
We were transfixed, bewitched, beguiled.
The sweet songbird - my only child.

She handled bombs for just a year,
harsh chemicals – which took great care -
and always there a nagging fear
that woke her often with a scare
of letting slip the dread nightmare -
a spark that left the shell defiled.
The sweet songbird - my only child.

When she left there I shed a tear,
her hair was green, not for a dare,
but that’s what all the girls have here
in Chilwell where the very air
turns skin a yellow shade – and there
she lay among the bodies piled -
the sweet songbird - my only child.
Track Name: Death Of A Poet (Anthem For Doomed Youth)
Death Of A Poet

The grey November sky has lost its light,
just one more boy has fallen to his death,
another lad who won’t survive the fight
or pass beyond this final exhaled breath.
Though many soldiers leave this war unheard,
their stories lost forever, never told,
this one will paint us pictures with his words
that will not lose their power or grow old.

A week beyond that fatal canal dawn
a peace is brokered and the guns fall still.
In Monkmoor Road a joyful early morn
is destroyed and a mothers tears will spill.
Outside the bright clanging Armistice bell
chimes “Wilfred Owen has a tale to tell”.


__________________________________ into

Anthem For Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds
Track Name: Armistice (Gods Of War)
Armistice (Gods Of War)

The ink upon this document
dries twice as fast as blood
that seeps into this continent
and mixes with the mud.
The war to end all wars they say,
though many have their doubts
that a piece of paper, signed today,
will quell the zealots shouts.

So they dance beneath the spires
of Britannia’s grieving towns
and let the mourning of sad shires
taint her flimsy tattered gown.
The bells ring their grieving chime
for all the missing souls
and for the first time in a long time
soldiers climb out from their holes.

Home, to children they don’t recognise
and wives who don’t understand
the vacant look behind their eyes
or the shaking of their hands.
They won’t talk of what they’ve seen
or what they’ve been made to do,
mere ghosts of what they’ve been
they walk in dead men’s shoes.

So let them have this day,
to rejoice and heal their scars,
let the booming marching bands
lead them all to joyous bars,
for they are only Human
and they all believe the lie -
but we are still the Gods Of War
and we will never die.
Track Name: Remembrance (Ode Of Remembrance / The Last Post)
Ode Of Remembrance (For The Fallen)

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

We will remember them….
Track Name: Masters Of War
Masters Of War

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
’Til I’m sure that you’re dead

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