Green Fields Of France 1916 by eric bogle

Discussion in 'Films, Music and All Things Artsy' started by l/cpl_blowhard, Jul 1, 2006.

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  1. alway found this a haunting song sung by davey arthur & the furey's , of the sacrifice of the young laddie's who died on july 1 1916 :cry:
  2. Not heard before, but have just printed off. Very touching indeed.
  3. My thoughts exactly Bucksfelize :(

    Hard to read without getting that 'clear your throat' syndrome.

    19 yrs old, that's the age of MY eldest lad now.

    The ultimate sacrifice at such a young age. This is why we must never forget.
  4. I have a 12" single of this done by some band who were a bit like The Pogues in the early 80s - a very moving song
  5. The Pouges sung a great version of " And the band played Waltzing Matilda"

    A song about a young Australian going to Galipoli and seeing the horrors of war.

    I have the Fureys playing at my wedding in Waterford next year!. Sadly there are only a few of them left, Finbar furey has not played with them in 12 years and one other brother in the band Paul Furey died in 2002. I will enjoy listening to them sing the Green Fields of France live..
  6. Probably the "Men They Couldn't Hang" version....

    Actually topped Mr. Peel's Festive Fifty in the year of release.

    Bloody good song.
  7. It's about a soldier from Belfast who died at the somme.

    Have you heard Billy McFadzen, another Belfast soldier who won the VC on the fields of the somme, equally excellant tune.

    Let me tell you a story of honour and glory
    Of a young Belfast soldier Billy McFadzen by name
    Well for king and for country young Billy died bravely
    and he won the VC on the fields of the somme

    Gone like the snowflakes that melt on the river
    Gone like the first rays of days early dawn
    Like the mist from the mountain
    Like the foam from the fountain
    Private Billy McFadzen has no known grave.

    FFS Cant remember the rest, but i will get back with the lyrics.
  8. Ventress

    Ventress LE Moderator

    Moving stuff.
  9. very moving got wet eyes reading it especially when you think what the date is. printed it off to show my mates well done for posting it.
  10. The song by Bogle is actually called 'No Man's Land' and is reputed to be about Billy McFadzean however as there were three killed on the same day with the name 'Willie McBride' it's hard to say which gravestone Bogle sat beside. It was the Fureys who recorded it as 'The Green Fields of France' and changed the words slightly. Bogle is an Edinburgher who moved to Australia and is famous for his anti-war songs.
  11. aye i seem to have seen a bit about him see below , iv always liked the way davey arthur sang that song with the fureys, regardless of who wrote it , it is a classic and im sure any soldier can relate to it

    William Frederick McFadzean: Age 20
    Rank: Private
    Division: 36th Ulster
    Brigade: 109
    Place of Birth: Cregagh Belfast
    Date of Birth: 9th October 1895
    Son of Mr William McFadzean (snr) and Mrs McFadzean
    Regiment: Ballynafeigh and Newtownbreda Young Citizen Volunteers. September 22nd1914
    Posting 14th Royal Irish Rifles
    Trained at Finner camp Randalstown
    Further Training at Seaford and Liphook
    Sailed with 36th Ulster Division for France October 1915
    At 7:00am on 1st July 1916 Billy McFadzean gave his own life by saving the lives of his many comrades and friends who were in a trench in Theipval Wood preparing to advance a half hour later. He was with his Regiment 14th Irish Rifles 36th Ulster Division, Brigade 109.

    The German front line strongpoint which had been successfully stormed at zero hour on July 1st by the 36th (Ulster Division). Unlike the Divisions on their flanks the Ulstermen were able to advance about one mile in the opening assault. Shortly before the whistle blew, a Belfast boy called Billy McFadzean had thrown himself over a live grenade thus giving his life for a group of comrades (young Billy Mcfadzean was posthumously awarded the VC and has since been immortalised in song). This had fired the Irish lads up and any waverers were further encouraged by the sight of many of their compatriots donning their orange sashes and Major General George Gaffikin roaring the traditional Boyne war cry of "No Surrender !". Regrettably,despite 6,000 Ulstermen having been killed, they were forced out of the redoubt by a series of ferocious German counter attacks

    This citation appeared in the London Gazette on 9th September 1916.
    For Most conspicuous bravery: The trunk and other parts of his body were never found. It was the first of fifty-one of the VC awards for men of the Somme. LT. R. D. Spencer who was the founder of the 14th RIR wrote. I was sadly grieved to hear of the death of Billy McFadzean. I consider his actions to be very heroic and a magnificent deed of the
    highest courage.The king wrote, on December 18th 1916 and William McFadzean Senior was given a third class ticket with which to travel to Buckingham Palace to receive the award. The ceremony took place on February 28th 1917. The King stated: I have very great pleasure in presenting to you this Victoria Cross for your Son, the Late Private
    William McFadzean. I deeply regret that he did not live to receive it in person. I am sure you are proud of your son; nothing finer has been done in this war for which I have yet given a Victoria Cross, than the act committed by your son to save the many lives in giving his own so heroically.
    Private W F McFadzean, 14th Royal Irish Rifles; killed on 1st July and who has no known grave.

    he had brass ones thats for sure :D
  12. The other strong option was a Gunner Willie McBride who was also with 36 Div on the day. I can't rememeber who the third candidate was. Apparantly Bogle can't remember the regiment either - just the name of the gravestone he sat beisde when doing his Somme walk.
  13. Private William (Billy) Frederick McFadzean
    109th Infantry Brigade, 14th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
    (Young Citizen Volunteers)

    For most conspicuous bravery near Thiepval Wood
    1st July 1916

    Age : 20

    VC Publicly displayed at the Royal Ulster Rifles museum (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

    Billy McFadzean was born at Lurgan Co Armagh on October 9th 1895 the son of William McFadzean JP senior and Mrs McFadzean of Rubicon, Cregagh, Belfast.
    He was educated at Mountpottinger Boys School and later attended the Trade Preparatory School in Belfast, where he had been less than a model pupil, having been reprimanded no less than thirty-four times for bad conduct in his second year. Billy was described as "13 stones and six feet tall, a fine healthy young Ulsterman", and gained respect as a useful player with the Collegians Rugby Club.
    After school he became an apprentice in the linen business with Spence, Brysin and Co. of Belfast at a wage of £20 per anunum. He was also an enthusiastic member of the Young Citizen Volunteers, 1st battalion Ballynafeigh and Newtownbreda East Belfast Regiment.
    He joined up for war service on September 22nd 1914 as a Private with the 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and on 5 October he along with his Battalion made their crossing to France aboard an old Isle of Man paddle-steamer called the Empress Queen, where Billy wrote to his family : "You people at home make me feel quite proud when you tell me 'I am the soldier boy of the McFadzeans.' I hope to play the game and if I dont add much lustre to it, I certainly will not tarnish it."
    T he night of June 30th 1916, Billy and his battalion found themselves in their assembly trenches at Elgin Avenue in Thiepval Wood. The battalion war diary records, "heavy bombardment, great trouble in keeping the candle alight," In the trench Billy was singing his favourite song "My little Grey Home in the West" and keeping his comrades spirits up with his jokes and banter.
    Around 6.45am on the morning of July 1st 1916 as zero hour approaced to mark the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, the tragic incident occurred. The bombardiers were particulary busy and Billy and his fellow grenadiers were making final preparations; boxes of grenades were open and bombs were being handed out. Shells were dropping all around. Billy was opening a box, using a knife to cut the cord around it, when the box tumbled off its shelf and two bombs split out and shed their pins. An explosion would rip through the trench in a matter of seconds. Billy threw himself on thre ground, on top of the bombs, sheltering the rest of the men from the blast. He was killed instantly, but his comrades were saved from death or serious injury - except one man who eventually was to lose a leg as a result of his wounds. Billy's mutilated remains were placed on a stretcher and as they were being taken away, his fellow soldiers instinctively removed their helmets, despite the ongoing bombardment and the flying shrapnel; many were in tears.
    William McFadzean's Victoria Cross was gazetted on September 9th 1916 and once again his name is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial for all those with no known grave.
    His commanding officer Lieut Col F C Bowen wrote to Billy's father on September 16th.
    "Dear Mr McFadzean,
    It is with feelings of great pride that I read the announcement of the granting of the
    VC to your gallant son and my only regret is that he was not spared to us to wear his
    well-earned decoration.
    It was one of the finest deeds of a war that is so full of big things and I can assure you that the whole battalion rejoiced when they heard it. Your gallant boy, though gone from us, his deeds will forever live in our memories and the record will go down for all time in the regimental history which he has added fresh and great lustre to." The family also received a letter from Buckingham Palace on December 18th 1916.
    "It is a matter of sincere regret to me that the death of Private McFadzean deprived me of the pride of personally conferring upon him the Victoria Cross, the greatest of all rewards for valour and devotion to duty."
    Signed George R I
    Billy McFadzean's VC was the first to be won on that July day in 1916. Billy's father was given a third class rail ticket with which to travel to London on February 28th 1917 where his sons Victoria Cross was presented to him by the king at Buckingham Palace.
    "Nothing finer has been done in this war for which I have given a Victoria Cross than the act committed by your son to save many lives in giving his own so heroically."
    (The king's words to Billy's father.)
    On Sunday 1 July 1917 in Newtownbreda Presbyterian Church, on the outskirts of Belfast, an afternoon service was held to pay respects to the memory of Billy McFadzean in what had been his home church. A tablet was unveiled on which were the words:
    'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends'.
    The last Post was played, the congregation sang 'O God, our help in ages past' and the choir performed a beautiful anthem, a setting by Woodward of Tennyson's poem 'Crossing the bar', which includes these lines :

    Twilight and evening bell,
    And after that the dark!
    And may there be no sadness of farewell,
    When I embark;

    For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
    The flood may bear me far,
    I hope to see my pilot face to face
    When I have crost the bar.

    The process of keeping alive the memory and significance of the Somme dead was maintained not only publicly but privately by the families of the victims. Part of this process sometimes involved a search for a grave - impelled by a deep need to know some physical location as the last resting place of the dead soldier. In 1920 the parents of Billy McFadzean were still trying desperately to find some particular gavestone in the military cemeteries of the somme where their famous son might have been laid to rest.

    At the going down of the sun, and in the morning

    Pte. Wm McFadzean
    Performed by Noel Large
    © copyright

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