Sir John Squire capitalises on a piece of news that had been running since early 1933 (although in fact the most famous item about it did not appear until mid-April 1934, so Squire is anticipating) – the suggestion that Loch Ness contained a monster, and that it had been seen. (There is a good blog about histories of sightings here.) He asks for a song written to the tune of ‘The Soldiers Of The Queen’, with the refrain ‘It’s The Monster of Loch Ness, My Boys’. (The Daily Mail cover that created the bigger fuss was purportedly taken on April 19 1934 and published on April 21).
Unpromisingly, Squire opens with the words ‘The standard was not very high …’ Apparently too many tried to be political, and many were unmetrical. It may incidentally seem odd that he is asking for ‘The Soldiers Of The Queen’ in 1934, but the song originated in an 1895 comedy musical called ‘An Artist’s Model’. Only more recently has it been taken up as a regimental song. The lyrics (by Harry Greenbank) they were trying to mirror went thus:
- Britons once did loyally declaim
- About the way we ruled the waves.
- Every Briton’s song was just the same
- When singing of her soldier-braves.
- All the world had heard it–
- Wondered why we sang,
- And some have learned the reason why–
- But we’re not forgetting it,
- And we’re not letting it
- Fade away and gradually die,
- Fade away and gradually die.
- So when we say that England’s master
- Remember who has made her so
- It’s the soldiers of the Queen, my lads
- Who’ve been, my lads, who’ve seen, my lads
- In the fight for England’s glory lads
- When we’ve had to show them what we mean:
- And when we say we’ve always won
- And when they ask us how it’s done
- We’ll proudly point to every one
- Of England’s soldiers of the Queen.
The two winners (the first being ‘more singable’) are Arthur Oliver and Lt. Col. H.P. Garwood, who is evidently happy to read what is happening on the left, and has already defied my stereotype of him.
New Statesman’s poet MacFlecknoe had already published a poem on the subject that month.