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Published on Oct 26, 2014
Another song from the Saturday concert of the Hong Kong Folk Society Reunion at Halsway Manor, Somerset, in July 2014, sung by Jim Herd and Jim O'Boyle.
The first verse of this song, also known as "The Gay Fusilier" or "The Bold Fusilier", is supposed to have come from the time of the Duke of Marlborough, though apparently there is no record anywhere of its existence before 1900. Different commentators have rather seen it as a parody of "Waltzing Matilda" from either the Boer war, which was attended by the fusiliers, or even the second world war. Vaughan Williams pointed out that the language was not appropriate to the early eighteenth century period it pretended to represent. The tune is a version of the Scottish song and pipe tune, "Craigielea".
This longer version of the song was written by Peter Coe, who added several verses to the existing verse and chorus. In 1967, he found the song in a children's magazine and decided to complete the song "echoing some of the 20th century experiences of growing up in an area of high unemployment in the North West of England, i.e. one of the main options for school leavers was to join the forces."