The title of this popular song found its way into the Oxford Dictionary Of Modern Quotations. It was written by Fred Godfrey (1880-1953). According to his grandson, Barry Norris of New Brunswick, Canada, he had the distinction of composing two of the Twentieth Century's most famous wartime singalong songs; the other was "Bless 'Em All."
Godfrey was inspired to write the song by a show at the Oxford Music Hall. He rattled it off in four hours at the Hampstead home of Dorothy Ward, the wife of the music hall star Shaun Glenville.
Blighty is a corruption of a Hindustani word from the days of the Raj, meaning Britain. The song was the biggest hit of the early part of Godfrey's career. A report in the London Times of January 4, 1917 said it was the most popular war-time pantomime song of that winter, and was even sung at the London Opera House by the music hall star Ella Retford with audience participation. The sheet music was published initially by The Star Music Publishing Company Limited and then jointly by Star and B. Feldman & Co - both of London " it retailed for 6d and credited the song thus: "Written and Composed by A.J. Mills, Fred Godfrey AND Bennett Scott."
According to a personal communication from Barry Norris: "It's impossible to know who was responsible for what in the writing of most of these songs... Dorothy Ward claimed Godfrey wrote the song by himself... but Godfrey recollected that it had been a collaborative effort with Mills and Scott. At the same time... Mills and Scott owned Star Music Publishing Co. and possibly had their names added to the composing credits of many songs as a quid pro quo for publication." [The same thing happened with "Maybellene," although its composer, Chuck Berry, didn't find out until after the event!]
Dorothy Ward almost certainly recorded "Blighty" first, but the date she did so is unknown; Florrie Forde recorded her version on October 16, 1916. It was in fact recorded no less than seven times in 1916, including by an Irish regimental band, and remained popular all through the 20s and 30s, unsurprisingly finding its way into several films including the 2006 release Flyboys, about American volunteer pilots in World War I.
Suggestion credit: Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above
Viv from Melbourne, AustraliaHi Amanda, I am trying to find some info about a song by A J Mills called Let Me Kiss Those Tears Away. I have a sheet music cover which I'll post here soon, the sheet music cover is of my Grandmother Kitty Clinton, she was in London and came to Australia under vaudeville contract in 1916. The song doesn't come up in any listing under A JMills name so far, so thought seeing your posting I would ask you - i hope you can help, With thanks Viv
Amanda from London, United KingdomMy Great Grandfather was A J Mills co writer listed above. I have been trying to find any photgrapghs of him (also wrote with Scott Bennett & Fred Godrey. He was a co-owner of Star Music Publishing Oxford St London. Any information would be appreciated.