Remember Willie McBride

The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree. ~Thomas Campbell

"No Man's Land" (also known as "The Green Fields of France" and "Willie McBride")

It is a song written in 1976 by Scottish-Australian singer-songwriter Eric Bogle, reflecting on the grave of a young man who died in World War I. Its haunting chorus refers to two famous war songs, "The Last Post" and "The Flowers of the Forest". Its melody, its refrain ("did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly"), and elements of its subject matter (a young man cut down in his prime) are similar to those of "Streets of Laredo", a North American cowboy ballad whose origins can be traced back to an 18th century Irish/British ballad called "The Unfortunate Rake".

A researcher from a Belgium war museum has delved in a stack of burial records to find the real Willy McBride. Among the 1,700,000 names he found ten William Willy McBride's, but only one died in 1916 at the age of 19. This private William McBride served in the Royal Inniskilling Fusilliers and is buried at Authuille Military Cemetery in Northern France. It is not sure though whether or not this particular grave inspired Eric Bogle to write this song.

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Willie McBride (.flv) (.image)

Willie McBride