Thursday, December 31, 2009

WW I Song - It's A Long Way to Tipperary - The "Unpublished" Verse

Cover to sheet music for It's A Long Way to Tipperary

It's A Long Way to Tipperary was a popular song amongst the troops on their way to the Western Front in the summer of 1914.when spirits were high, the belief was the war would be short, and before the grim reality of trench warfare sunk in (literally) in the months & years that followed.

Popular again during World War Two, it was sung by German troops as well. The German film, Das Boot, an account of a U-boat crew in World War Two features scenes in which morale is boosted by a rousing playing and singing along of It's A Long Way to Tipperary on the sub's PA system.

The song was written in 1912, two years before the start of WWI, by Jack Judge and Harry Williams. Full lyrics and early recordings can be found here at

In New Zealand, as elsewhere in Britain and the white settler colonies of the British Empire - Australia and  Canada, for example - the song echoed down through the decades of the twentieth century, perhaps fading in the oral tradition and collective memory of the closing decades of that century.

Sung at family gatherings and some community social events after the wars, it gradually became a repeat rendition of the chorus as memorization of the verses lapsed between generations. At least that's how I recall it being sung.

The well-known chorus is:

It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square!
It's a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.
Too bawdy for mixed or polite company, the following "unpublished" verse - presumably an impromptu invention of some soldier was reserved apparently for when it was sung among the troops. Feel free to let your imagination runaway on you because that was presumably the intent! 

Extra wartime verse

That's the wrong way to tickle Mary,
That's the wrong way to kiss!
Don't you know that over here, lad,
They like it best like this!
Hooray pour le Francais!
Farewell, Angleterre!
We didn't know the way to tickle Mary,
But we learned how, over there!

No comments: