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Published on May 24, 2009
When I was at college and was learning to play the guitar, a friend had a book of songs which included this amusing tale. When he left, the book went with him and I was never able to find another with this in it, so I could not sing it again. However last night for no apparent reason, it came to mind and with the facility of the search engine, I have found it. Strangely, though the subject of the story refers to events to do with the Russo-Turkish War (1877--1878), the song itself is Irish, having been written in 1877 by Percy French, an Irish music hall entertainer. He was ripped off by his publisher who printed the song without the author's name. They must have made a small fortune from the song, for not only was it a popular music hall song, but I recall an animated cartoon feature of the song and its characters being made, though I cannot remember which studio made it. Even though I could not really remember the words, this song must have made a great impression on my mind, for when I wrote my own nonsense song 'The Ballad of Mad Dog Magee', the poetic construction turned out to be very similar to that used by French for this song.