Friday, August 07, 2009

All On a Beautiful Morning

The funeral of Harry Patch, the last British combat veteran of the First World War (specifically the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917), was held yesterday in Wells, England.

Notes the Associated Press:

Hundreds of people lined the main street to watch Patch’s coffin, shrouded in a Union flag, roll silently down the narrow road leading to the town cathedral. As the hearse passed, townspeople fell in behind, walking in silent tribute.

Patch, who died July 25 at age 111, only began talking about his experience of trench warfare in his last years. He had returned, wounded, from the Western Front and quietly lived out his life as a plumber. He outlived two wives, and both of his sons.

. . . Patch boasted that he hadn’t killed anyone in combat, but he did shoot at the legs of a German soldier who had charged with a bayonet.

“He called out something to me in German, I don’t suppose it was complimentary, but for him the war was over,” he said.

“I’ve often wondered whether he realized that I gave him his life. He was no more than 15 yards away when I shot him. I couldn’t miss, not with a Webley service revolver, not at that range.”

At least 8.5 million soldiers are reckoned to have died in the war.

“Too many died,” Patch had said. “War isn’t worth one life.”

All of which reminds me of the haunting anti-war folk song, “Two Brothers” – which the late, great Dusty Springfield performed September 5, 1967, on her BBC show. Today’s actually the twelfth anniversary of Woman of Repute, my website dedicated to Dusty. And since it's also Friday night, which is often "music night" here at The Wild Reed, it seems a perfect time to share the video of Dusty’s performance of this particular song.

So without further ado, here’s Dusty Springfield with “Two Brothers.”

Two brothers on their way
Two brothers on their way
Two brothers on their way
One wore blue
And one wore gray

One wore blue and one wore gray
As they marched along the way
A fife and drum began to play
All on a beautiful morning

One was gentle, one was kind
One was gentle, one was kind
One came home, one stayed behind
A cannonball don’t pay no mind

A cannonball don’t pay no mind
If you’re gentle or if you’re kind
It don’t think of the folks behind
All on a beautiful morning

Two girls waiting by the railroad track
Two girls waiting by the railroad track
For their darlings to come back
One wore blue, and one wore black

One wore blue, and one wore black
Waiting by the railroad track
For their darlings to come back
All on a beautiful morning

Recommended Off-site Link:
Private Harry Patch
-, July 25, 2009.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Remembering Wilfred Owen
The Christmas Truce of 1914

For more of Dusty Springfield at The Wild Reed, see:
Remembering Dusty
Classic Dusty
Classic Dusty II
Classic Dusty III
Remembering a Great Soul Singer
The Sound of Two Decades Colliding
Time and the River
Soul Deep

Previous artists featured on “Music Night at the Wild Reed”:
Cass Elliot, The Church, Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield, Wall of Voodoo, Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy, Pink Floyd, Kate Ceberano, Judith Durham, Wendy Matthews, Buffy Sainte-Marie, 1927, Mavis Staples, Maxwell, Joan Baez, Tee Set, Darren Hayes, Wet, Wet, Wet, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Cruel Sea, Shirley Bassey, Loretta Lynn & Jack White, Maria Callas, Foo Fighters, Jenny Morris, Kate Bush, Rufus Wainwright, and Dusty Springfield.


Obie Holmen said...


Did you receive my email?

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Obie,

No, I've only ever received the comments you've left - both here at The Wild Reed and over at the Progressive Catholic Voice.

I'm assuming you tried to e-mail me at Perhaps you could try again and hopefully it will work this time.