According to the Jeffrey Richards book, Imperialism and music: BRITAIN 1876-1953
, '...the original version of Ivor Novello's hit had been titled, with overt patriotism, "Keep the Flag A-flying", but this was abandoned in favour of the more domestic and intimate "Keep the Home Fires Burning".'
This is in fact not true, "Keep The Flag A-Flying" was an entirely different song, and it was written not by Ivor Novello, but by his mother! According to W. Macqueen-Pope's biography Ivor
, the outbreak of war in 1914 generated an intense outburst of patriotism in Britain, so much so that young men literally flocked to enlist; patriotic songs were all the rage, and Madam Clara Novello Davies - a famous music teacher and choir leader - begged her pride and joy to write one. He was disdainful as they were literally being churned out by the dozen, so she wrote one of her own to show him how it should, or perhaps should not, be done. After she had performed "Keep The Flag A' Flying" to him, he relented, probably thinking he couldn't do any worse. Her awful song - which thankfully appears not to have survived - resulted in him composing the greatest patriotic song of World War One, "Keep The Home Fires Burning
Alexander Baron - London, England