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The Battle of the Somme

2 min read

This is a clip from a 1978 BBC film of Ashley Hutchings' play "Lark Rise To Candleford" (adapted from the Flora Thompson book), within the context of part of a 1979 documentary about the work of Hutchings and The Albion Band.

Hutchings: "The First World War was really the end of the innocence, the end of the old world. Nothing was ever the same after [...]. And after the roll call of the fallen in the First World War, we come crashing in with a tune called "The Battle of the Somme" which is from that period.  We come in with our electric instruments and our drums and we are the modern world. We are accessories to the death of the countryside, the old culture." 


The tune was written by Pipe Major William Laurie of the 8th Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, in the immediate aftermath of the battle. He was invalidated home and died of his wounds shortly afterwards. "The Battle of the Somme", a haunting 9/8 retreat march sometimes played as a "slip jig", became one of the most popular tunes to emerge from the First World War.