Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

It wasn't really "Bless "em All"

Every so often I am hit by an uncontrollable urge to write about "Bless 'em All," that song sung with gusto by soldiers during World War II. Americans, Canadians, Brits, Australians, they all sang it. I wouldn't be surprised if the Germans captured it and sang their own version.
Contrary to popular opinion, not too many songs are actually sung by soldiers. Many thought to be popular with those in the military are either too mushy, too maudlin, or contain too many notes. Simplicity is important because when the average group of soldiers burst forth in song it makes a chorus of tree frogs sound like grand opera.
There is one problem with writing about "Bless 'em All." When sung by those it was intended for, soldiers, not even a single "bless" can be found in the lyrics. It shouldn't require much imagination for even the most shy and sheltered person to know what word replaced it. So here is a case where accuracy and realism would be severely frowned upon by polite society.
This was and still is true of many things associated with the military. That same word keeps rearing its ugly head so a bit of censoring is often required. For example, the Germans sometimes fired colorful leaflets over the American lines. The drawings would not be at home in a church bulletin, nor would the messages. A typical one (borrowing a word from the popular version of the aforementioned song) read: "What 4-F is blessing your wife tonight, Joe?"
These were greeted with great hilarity. However, I sometimes felt concern that these crude illustrations and words might set some married men to wondering. Others, and this I knew for a fact, wouldn't have given a hoot.
Whatever, "Bless 'em All" apparently was written by a British music hall performer. Considering how few notes this classic contains, that isn't surprising. I do wonder, though, if he sang the version put on paper or the military adaptation? Either way it didn't bear much resemblance to "Keep the Home Fires Burning" or "There'll be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover." Still it was a pretty good song.


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