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The Rose Of York

  • (Ken Thompson / Leslie Hale)

    My name it is Mark Bennett, I am a Yorkshire man
    I earn my living by my pen, tell a stirring tale I can
    But the one I tell you now, boys, was writ by foolish men
    And the petals fell from the rose of York, never to bloom again

    Come all you young married men, you boys of the bulldog breed
    We're looking for the strong and brave, that's what Britannia needs
    And we'll fight the Hun in Flanders, and the Germans on the Seine
    And the petals fell from the rose of York, never to bloom again

    We first set out to Egypt where the heat was hard to bear
    We were waiting for the call to France, for the boches were fighting there
    And we talked of what we'd do, boys, brother, son, and friend
    And the petals fell from the rose of York, never to bloom again

    At last we heard the push was on and we sailed across the Med
    We little thought in two weeks' time we'd most of us be dead
    And the girls at home would weep with a grief that's hard to mend
    And the petals fell from the rose of York, never to bloom again

    With shouts of joy we lads did charge towards the German wire
    Our handsome mate was the first to fall as the guns they opened fire
    His face no longer handsome, on the barbed wire met his end
    And the petals fell from the rose of York, never to bloom again

    We had a sergeant-major, bold by nature, Bold by name
    But the German guns don't pick and choose, and Bold died just the same
    And the other gallants followed, their kind of lives to spend
    And the petals fell from the rose of York, never to bloom again

    We did not want to lose you, but we thought you ought to go
    Your king and country needed you - Lord Kitchener told us so
    But the story now I've told you was writ by foolish men
    And the petals fell from the rose of York, never to bloom again

    (as sung by Roy Bailey)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1988:] The front-line soldiers of 1914-18 saw things that people should not see. Among them were hideously wounded men. [...] But what made at least as deep an impression was [...] the persistent presence of the dead. In previous wars battles had lasted a few days at most. [...] But this war was different: combat went on for months; artillery fire dismembered men in a flash; and the front line hardly moved at all. [...] Many soldiers recalled the stench of decomposition, and the swarms of flies on corpses [...]. Everyone execrated the rats. It is difficult to imagine the nature of this ghastly environment.

    [The] war in the trenches was terrifyingly new. Not only were there the innovations in weaponry but also the unprecedented degree of stress faced by hundreds of thousands of men. [...] It is true that most soldiers saw limited and intermittent duty in the trenches, but eight days could last a lifetime. And the fact of prior experience may not have made it any easier [...]. What is most remarkable is not that some broke under the strain, but that so many did not. Their resilience is one of the mysteries of the war. (J.M. Winter, The Experience of World War I, 145ff)

  • [1998:] Who could have foreseen that the attacking line [in the Battle of the Somme] would have to walk innocently into the fire of undamaged machine-guns? Who would have predicted that the artillery barrages, which were supposed to eliminate the German barbed wire instead of cutting it, simply raised it off the ground and then dropped it to its original position? A standard sight on the first day of the battle was of the few British troops who had somehow crossed no man's land alive, standing puzzled in front of the uncut German wire, to be shot down in their turn. When the first day of the Battle of the Somme was over, it would be found that of the 100,000 men who had attacked, 20,000 lay dead between the lines. [...] It was 'the greatest loss of life in British military history'.

    Likewise, Passchendaele has honestly earned its reputation as the most ghastly of First World War land battles, and Keegan does a fine job of exposing the ignorance and stubbornness of the staff, led by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, who pressed the battle, in which many died by simply drowning in flooded shell holes, long after it had obviously failed. After responsibly scrutinising both plans and results, Keegan concludes that 'the point of Passchendaele defies explanation', just as 'the Battle of Loos was pointless'. [...] Why did these soldiers persist in fighting for no admirable end? How did ordinary soldiers find the strength to keep it up and to believe that their agonies served some higher purpose? That the war constituted wicked folly is obvious now. (Paul Fussell, review of 'The First World War' by John Keegan, Observer, 4 Oct)

Quelle: England

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