PlaidSong were delighted to be asked by Andy Middlemiss to take part in a wonderful concert and event he was planning to commemorate VE Day. Scheduled for May the 9th the event has been postponed, like so many, in order for us all to stay safe at this time.
As we are not able to perform at this time PlaidSong wanted to remind everyone involved that the charity work undertaken by Andy was for SSAFA . If you would like to learn more about SSAFA’s role in WWII, and hear stories of the wartime generation please visit SSAFA
For our part we were going to perform a few songs and we will share one with you here. Syd and I have been fortunate to meet and record the life and times of a WWII veteran, George Stewart MC. Syd knew George through his work for the Forestry Commission and George recently turned 100 – he was born exactly 100 years ago in December 1919- just when the FC was created at the end of the Great War. George served in Italy during WWII with the Royal Artillery and joined the FC after his service rising to become Forestry Commissioner before retiring in 1979. Retirement encouraged George to take up new challenges and resulted in him winning tennis tournaments aged 85 and still skiing, something he learned in Italy during the war, to celebrate his hundredth birthday! He is a remarkable man. We chatted with him this week when his story featured on the BBC Scotland news on Thursday and in The Times on Friday.
We performed at the Black Watch Museum last summer and gave a musical presentation named ‘Enlist Bonnie Laddie, Songs of the Scottish Soldier’. George attended that evening and was delighted to hear us sing a favourite song of his, 'The D Day Dodgers’. D-Day Dodgers were the Allied servicemen who fought in Italy during the Second World War and who inspired this war time song. Many soldiers in Italy felt that their sacrifices were being ignored after the invasion of Normandy. A rumour spread during the war that the term was publicized by Viscountess Astor, an MP, who supposedly used the expression in public after a disillusioned serviceman in Italy signed a letter to her as being from a "D-Day Dodger". However, there is no record that she actually said this, in or out of Parliament, and she herself denied ever saying it.
The Allied soldiers in Italy, in reference to Lady Astor, composed a bitingly sarcastic song to the tune of the popular German song "Lili Marleen" (popularised in English by Marlene Dietrich), called "The Ballad of the D-Day Dodgers". This song has also been attributed to Lance-Sergeant Harry Pynn of the Tank Rescue Section, 19 Army Fire Brigade. The song was also collected and popularised by Perthshire’s own Hamish Henderson, the renowned folklorist and song collector.
We thank George Stewart, who was awarded the Military Cross for his service in Italy, for reassuring us that these were the words he learned – he sang the whole song along with us that night!
Hear the song D Day Dodgers
George has an ambition to record the song again with us with him singing along, so Iook out for this, our next project!