Bless 'Em All

Album: Bless 'Em All (1941)
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  • This popular World War Two song was written by Fred Godfrey (1880-1953). Born Llewelyn Williams in Swansea, prolific songwriter Godfrey actually wrote it in 1917. His grandson, Barry Norris of New Brunswick, Canada, has researched his life and work in considerable depth. Godfrey, he says, had the distinction of composing two of the Twentieth Century's most famous wartime singalong songs; the other was "Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty."

    Godfrey wrote "Bless 'Em All" while serving with the Royal Naval Air Service; it became popular with airmen at the end of World War One - the Great War as it was then known. At this time, songwriters in Britain and elsewhere did not always receive proper credit for their work. In the United States for example, A.P. Carter put his own name to "Wildwood Flower," a song that had been written in 1860 by Joseph Webster and Maud Irving as "I'll Twine 'Mid The Ringlets." Many of Godfrey's songs suffered the same fate.
  • According to Barry Norris: At the beginning of World War Two, two staff writers at Keith Prowse Music, James Lally and Frank Kerslake (under their pseudonyms 'Jimmy Hughes' and 'Frank Lake'), were given the job of cleaning up the RAF's popular but by now bawdy "Bless 'Em All" for popular consumption. This they did, and the song was duly published. In a personal communication he added: "Bless 'Em All" must be one of the most parodied songs in existence, with dozens and dozens of different lyrics attached to the melody, many with a military theme and often... scurrilous.
  • The original sheet music for "Bless 'Em All" subtitled "The Service Song" was recorded by the popular singer, ukulele player and actor George Formby (1904-61) on Regal Zonophone; it was credited by Keith Prowse to Hughes and Lake, retailing for one shilling. When an Americanized version was published in Canada, the name Al Stillman was added to the composing credits.
  • The song has been recorded by numerous artists - including Vera Lynn, Bing Crosby and Max Bygraves - and has been featured in many films, the first apparently being the 1941 release A Yank In The RAF. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above
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