Soldier Lyrics by Harvey Andrews

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by emptyeye, Dec 20, 2005.

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  1. emptyeye
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    emptyeye War Hero

    For those of us who remember this song this when it came out ( I was in NI at the time) and the official line that it was 'banned' by the BBC and the MOD and not to played anywhere by any squaddie, here at the lyrics:
    If anyone knows the REAL story, not any urban myths, would be nice to know...I know all the stories linked to this song............. I seem to remember it was a PARA Sgt, but not sure of the real story.

    Anyway, here it is:

    In a station in the city a British soldier stood
    Talking to the people there if the people would
    Some just stared in hatred, and others turned in pain
    And the lonely British soldier wished he was back home again

    Come join the British Army! said the posters in his town
    See the world and have your fun come serve before the Crown
    The jobs were hard to come by and he could not face the dole
    So he took his country's shilling and enlisted on the roll

    For there was no fear of fighting, the Empire long was lost
    Just ten years in the army getting paid for being bossed
    Then leave a man experienced a man who's made the grade
    A medal and a pension some mem'ries and a trade

    Then came the call for Ireland as the call had come before
    Another bloody chapter in an endless civil war
    The priests they stood on both sides the priests they stood behind
    Another fight in Jesus's name the blind against the blind

    The soldier stood between them between the whistling stones
    And then the broken bottles that led to broken bones
    The petrol bombs that burnt his hands the nails that pierced his skin
    And wished that he had stayed at home surrounded by his kin

    The station filled with people the soldier soon was bored
    But better in the station than where the people warred
    The room filled up with mothers with daughters and with sons
    Who stared with itchy fingers at the soldier and his gun

    A yell of fear a screech of brakes the shattering of glass
    The window of the station broke to let the package pass
    A scream came from the mothers as they ran towards the door
    Dragging their children crying from the bomb upon the floor

    The soldier stood and could not move his gun he could not use
    He knew the bomb had seconds and not minutes on the fuse
    He could not run and pick it up and throw it in the street
    There were far too many people there too many running feet

    Take cover! yelled the soldier, Take cover for your lives
    And the Irishmen threw down their young and stood before their wives
    They turned towards the soldier their eyes alive with fear
    For God's sake save our children or they'll end their short lives here

    The soldier moved towards the bomb his stomach like a stone
    Why was this his battle God why was he alone
    He lay down on the package and he murmured one farewell
    To those at home in England to those he loved so well

    He saw the sights of summer felt the wind upon his brow
    The young girls in the city parks how precious were they now
    The soaring of the swallow the beauty of the swan
    The music of the turning world so soon would it be gone

    A muffled soft explosion and the room began to quake
    The soldier blown across the floor his blood a crimson lake
    There was no time to cry or shout there was no time to moan
    And they turned their children's faces from the blood and from the bones

    The crowd outside soon gathered and the ambulances came
    To carry off the body of a pawn lost in the game
    And the crowd they clapped and cheered and they sang their rebel song
    One soldier less to interfere where he did not belong

    And will the children growing up learn at their mothers' knees
    The story of the soldier who bought their liberty
    Who used his youthful body as a means towards an end
    Who gave his life to those who called him murderer not friend
  2. emptyeye
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    emptyeye War Hero

    Done my home work and this is what I have come up with:

    It was based on the incident in the Springfield Road Police Station when the IRA threw a grenade into the waiting room. Sgt. Dave Willets, (a devout catholic btw) of 2 Para dropped onto it to save the people present.
  3. emptyeye
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    emptyeye War Hero

    And, here is YET another story:

    He was killed at Springfield Road RUC station by an IRA blast bomb thrown into the reception area. A car stopped outside the station and a man, described as dark haired and in his mid-20s, emerged with a suitcase which he hurled through the front door. Several civilians were sitting inside when the device was thrown. Among them were Patrick Gray, a 27-year-old electrician, his daughter Colette and their neighbour Mrs Elizabeth Cummings and her four-year-old son, Carl. In his book Bombs Have No Pity, Lieutenant-Colonel George Styles wrote: 'Immediately he saw the suitcase hit the floor, Sergeant Willets realised what was about to happen. He thrust the two children down into a corner and stood above them, shielding them as the 30lbs explosive in the suitcase went off. He was killed instantly but the children he'd protected escaped with their lives. The police inspector in the room was seriously injured and across the road a two-year-old, being pushed in a pram by his mother, was blown through a shop window. He was to regain consciousness only after months in hospital.'
  4. Chinggis
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    Chinggis War Hero

    Oh now that’s synchronicity – I was thinking about that song as I was driving home from work, and now here’s a post about it.

    The album that the song is from, “Writer of Songs”, is still available.
  5. emptyeye
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    emptyeye War Hero

    Anybody ex 2 PARA at this time confirm this?
  6. mnairb
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    mnairb LE

    I believe that Billy Connolly did a similar song about a soldier in hospital asking his sergeant why he got crippled in Northern Ireland instead of being sent to Hong Kong or Cyprus as promised in the recruiting posters...
  7. OldRedCap
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    OldRedCap LE

    Seems to be a Willetts at bottom of this page http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/sutton/alpha/W.html
    George Styles account is correct - the sutton link above ref time bomb is not correct. I remember this was one of the things at Springfield Road immediately prior to internment. Within a very short while, PARA sentry there opened fire on a van which passed but stopped in traffic at lights as you go towards RVH. Claimed he heard a bang which was report of hand gun. Killed a plumber in the van. No weapon found. Vehicle back-fired when on overrun. This started major aggro which was part of decision to go for internment. What a joke that was! RUC SB sent troops to detain people at addresses long burned down or blown up. "Arrest Sean Murphy" Patrol report there are three Sean Murphys from grandad to small kid. "Bring the lot" Governor of Crumlin Road prison knew nothing of what was going down until RE blew a damned great hole in his back wall to transfer detainees. One of the guys who murdered the three young jocks came into the middle of the street, fired revolver at Flax St mill and was dotted. All those in the enquiry went down and kissed him goodbye at Lagan Bank mortuary. Ah - the good old days!
  8. emptyeye
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    emptyeye War Hero

    Ah..the joys of Flax St Mill...........funny enough talking about Jamaica Street and the Ardoyne and the Bone area only the other day...
  9. LostGirlinWales
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    LostGirlinWales Swinger

    'A good man in a uniform': music, narrative, and message in Harvey Andrews' 'The Soldier'

    'I'll be content just to be a writer of songs
    And some will love them and other will hate them
    And I'll just hope that someone will rate them
    And maybe someday investigate them seriously'

    So ends the closing track of folk-singer Harvey Andrews' album Writer of Songs (1972) - an invitation this paper takes up in an examination of 'The Soldier', the most controversial of his songs from this critically acclaimed collection. As Andrews himself recounts, 'The Soldier' was written shortly after the renewal of violence in Northern Ireland, in response to the death of a soldier caught in a bomb-blast while trying to evacuate a room full of people. The crowd spat on his remains as they were brought out from the scene of the explosion.

    Andrews crafts an eloquent protest song that transcends political agendas in its focus on human tragedy and sacrifice. His use of ballad form, Christ imagery, vocal timbre, instrumentation, rhythm, and narrative voice, together with rhetorical shifts from past (the soldier's early life), the present (the soldier faced with a ticking bomb in the packed station), and future (how the soldier's death will be explained to subsequent generations), and his ability to depict a scene almost cinematically in words and music produce a song of devastating emotional impact. Andrews leaves the listener little choice but to identify with the soldier, whom he presents as a good man caught up in a dehumanising ideological struggle, to which his ultimate act of self-sacrifice makes little or no difference.

    In conclusion 'The Soldier' is one of the most powerful protest songs to have emerged from the civil rights movements of the 1970s, as evidenced by discussion of the problematic reception and frequent censorship of the song. When released as a 'B' side in 1972, 'The Soldier' was banned by the BBC, and even in a recent Radio 2 phone-in on the subject of 'banned music', the disc jockey refused to discuss the song on the grounds that the programme was not dealing with 'minority music'.

    Harvey Andrews ...
  10. OldRedCap
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    OldRedCap LE

    Wonder just how many terrs breathed their last behind that wooden fence - didn't realise snipers on roof knew just where to aim and that 7.62 went through wood easy as butter. Two blokes to my certain knowledge had a jam in the handgun they fired with just their hand round the corner. Stepped out under the street-light to do 1st IA. Goodnight.
  11. PoisonDwarf
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    PoisonDwarf LE

    "I'm asking ye Sergeant, where's mine". Quite an emotional little number I recall.
  12. PoisonDwarf
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    PoisonDwarf LE

    I was at the junction of Flax Street and Herbert Street a couple of years back - on patrol - and it still has a horrible feel about it. You feel extremely vulnerable. My old man was in his Battalion Int Cell in the early 70s and got ambushed on that spot. The car was riddled with bullets but nobody was scratched at all, absolutely unbelievable but there we go. He was lucky enough to survive another day and drink himself to death a few years back, in line with ex-squaddie traditions.
  13. emptyeye
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    emptyeye War Hero


    Now I feel BLOODY old, I was in the mill in the 70's (as a young lad though) and if you didnt hard target out the gate when you was going on foot patrol, there was avery good chance of getting bumped from either end of Flax St, it was straight enough to be like a rilfe range on any training area that you had ever been on.

    That whole area was a nest of vipers as they say, Seamus Toomeny (sp) had a few relatives in the Ardoyne as did G***y A***s (oh I forget hes an MP now and as such officially untouchable)

    Just the sort of area that a 19 year old squaddie gets his first taste of jungle rules......the good old days...
  14. ulsterism
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    ulsterism Swinger

    I seem to remember this event as it was the day I was born (giving age away)and it was a para SGT willits I think who removed a devise from springfield road RUC station (now decommisioned as a christmas tree)and was killed in the process it remains vivid as my parents tell me the locals cheered on his death and I am always reminded of this on my birthday every year.

    I think he had a full military funeral the first in Belfast for over 40 years or so .Was a Brave man I respect him.
  15. Nip_boy
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    Nip_boy Swinger

    As I recall, when his pltn was bringing his body out, the pltn officer or OC spoke to the crowd and told them that if he heard anyone cheering he would let his lads loose. Good Lad.
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