Could You Please Oblige Us with a Bren Gun?
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Like much of Coward's work it displays skill at wordplay and evokes a feeling of both good humour and patriotic pride. The song pokes fun at the disorder and shortages of equipment, supplies and effective leadership that the Home Guard experienced during the Second World War.
The subject of the song, the Bren light machine gun, was in high demand and short supply in wartime Britain, especially in 1941, when the British military was still recovering from the massive loss of materiel and supplies at Dunkirk. First priority was given to the British Army and Royal Marines, with the result that the units of the Home Guard, the very last line of defence, were quite unlikely to get one. As a result, members of the Home Guard often had to make do with whatever they could get their hands on- frequently old and outdated weapons.
Coward was often the best interpreter of his own work, and his recording of this song is no exception. It is available on several compilation albums and box sets of Coward's songs. Graham Payn, Coward's longtime companion and literary executor, said that the song could have been used as a theme song for the British television series Dad's Army which found humour in the same subject: the exploits of the Home Guard. Indeed, the song was later featured in the West End stage show of the television programme.
- Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical compositions, Part 3 (Google eBook). Library of Congress, Copyright Office. 1941. p. 1553.
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