Bless 'Em All

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For the 1948 British film, see Bless 'Em All (film).
"Bless 'Em All"
Written by Fred Godfrey
Written 1917
Original artist George Formby, Jr.
Performed by Gracie Fields

"Bless 'Em All" (also known as "The Long And The Short And The Tall" and "Fuck 'Em All") is a war song credited to have been written by Fred Godfrey in 1917 and first recorded by George Formby, Jr. in 1940.

Background[edit]

Godfrey claimed to have thought up the lyrics for the song while serving with the Royal Naval Air Service at Dunkirk during the First World War, recalling in a 1941 letter to the Daily Mirror: "I wrote “Bless ’Em All” while serving in the old R.N.A.S. in France in 1916. And, furthermore, it wasn’t "Bless.'" Although the song is credited to him, it is unclear if he actually wrote the lyrics, and his service record indicates that he joined RNAS January 1917.[1] Les Cleveland (1984) writes that a version of the song titled Fuck 'Em All was a popular protest song by airmen serving on India's North West Frontier during the 1920s, and may have originated from there. It later gained popularity among British and Commonwealth troops during the Second World War, and with a change of lyrics became a patriotic tune after being performed by singers such as Gracie Fields.[2] It was also recorded by George Formby and others. [3] Ward Brown noted that "(...) The line You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean seems to reflect the point of view of soldiers about to be sent to a fighting front on the other side of an ocean - presumably the Atlantic. This would point to an American origin for the song, rather than a British one, though there is no clear evidence for such an origin".[4]

Lyrics[edit]

Bless 'em all,
Bless 'em all.
The long and the short and the tall,

Bless all those Sergeants and WO1's,
Bless all those Corporals and their blinkin'/bleedin' sons,
Cos' we're saying goodbye to 'em all.
And back to their Billets they crawl,
You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up my lads bless 'em all

Film use[edit]

The song was used as the title theme to the 1961 film The Long and the Short and the Tall.

The song was sung and used as instrumental theme in the 1941 film Confirm or Deny

The song is sung by the characters in Captains of the Clouds [1942].

The song was also heard as a snippet in Guadalcanal Diary (1943), sung by the Marines on the island as well as Marine Raiders (1944).

The song is heard being sung in the Officers Club in the Award winning 1949 film Twelve O'Clock High with Gregory Peck and Dean Jagger.

The song is featured in the film Chain Lightning with Humphrey Bogart, released in 1950.

Also sung by the POWs in The Colditz Story 1954.

An instrumental version was also heard in the 1955 Clark Gable / Lana Turner movie Betrayed.

The song is heard as a snippet in the Red Cross Service Club scene in the 1956 William Holden and Deborah Kerr film The Proud and Profane.

Fuck 'Em All is heard in the 2007 film Atonement being sung by soldiers as they wait to be evacuated from Dunkirk.

Irish version[edit]

A satirical version of the song became very popular in Ireland during the Second World War (known in neutral Ireland as the Emergency). The song was a reaction to the widespread rationing of tea, sugar, tobacco and other goods due to the drastic drop in imports, particularly from Britain.[5] It poked fun at Ireland's Taoiseach Eamon de Valera and Minister Seán McEntee who were blamed for the shortages and rationing. The line "the long and the short and the tall" had particular sarcastic resonance because De Valera was tall while McEntee was very short.

The Irish version of the song included the lines:

Bless 'em all,
Bless 'em all.
The long and the short and the tall,

Bless De Valera and Seán McEntee,
They gave us the black flour,
And the half-ounce of tea.
They rationed the cocoa and all,
But rationed themselves not at all.
They're bringing starvation
To our little nation,
So cheer up St Vincent de Paul.’

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bless ’Em All page". Bless ’Em All: The Songs of Fred Godfrey. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Cleveland, Les (1984). "Soldiers' Songs: The Folklore of the Powerless". Buffalo State University. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  3. ^ My recollection (from WW2) was that it started, 'They say there's a troopship // Just leaving Bombay // Bound for old Blighty's shore // Heavily laden with time-expired men // Bound for the land they adore // You'll get no promotion, this side of the ocean, so cheer up me lads bless 'em all. - Then the rest of it.
  4. ^ Dr. Ward C. Brown, Soldiers' Songs from the Boer War to Vietnam in Vera Kaufmann (ed.) "A Retrospective Look at the Popular Culture of the Twentieth Century", New York, 1999
  5. ^ http://puesoccurrences.com/2010/01/05/de-valera-black-flour-and-the-emergency-or-tings-i-lernt-over-de-christmas

External links[edit]