Tag Archives: song of the western men

Marching Tunes of the Regiment

7 Jul

Hello Everybody
In the British Army, the infantry Regiments march behind their bands quite often. When I was a young boy I often watched soldiers marching behind their bands through the streets of my home town. Sometimes it was the brass band other times the kilted Scottish pipe bands. There were many army camps surrounding the Furness peninsular during the war years. All youngsters in fact everyone young and old, love to see marching troops and my family were no different.
During my national Service days with the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment. I proudly marched behind the regimental band on many occasions. The main parades when we returned from the Cameroons were Arroyo Day parade, which involved all the regiment. Also our regiment The King’s Own Royal Border was given the freedom of York in the autumn of 1961. All Companies of the regiment with a spring in their step marched behind the band through the streets of York. The trouble was, I was on a 24 hour guard that day, so consequently I was not on the parade. Believe me I was very disappointed, because all the lads who took part, said it was brilliant. Back in those days as other ex- servicemen will tell you, one had to be bulled up in your best uniform. All personnel involved looked smart and were drilled to perfection by the senior NCOs
I mention all this because the Kings Own Royal Border Band played “Corn Rigs are Bonnie” as a quick march. Although the Scottish tune, which was composed in the 17thCentury? The title and words were written in the latter part of the 18th Century, by no other than the great Robbie Burns. Prior to this tune, like many other British regiments the Lincolnshire Poacher was played.
The interesting slow march music adopted by the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, Just after the amalgamation of the Border Regiment with The King’s Own Regiment. Was “The Song of the Western Men” It is also known as “Trelawny”? The music and lyrics were written by Robert Stephen Harker. He wrote the song in 1824 depicting events that happened in 1688. John Telawny was one of seven bishop imprisoned in the tower of London by King James 11 for petitioning against the Declaration of Indulgence. Due to the imprisonment of John Trelawny a march on London was organised, but before they reached London the Bishops were acquitted by a jury and set free.
The song is taught in Cornish schools and is sung at all big occasions where Cornwall is involved. The line of the famous song that warms the hearts of Cornish people is. “And Shall Trelawny Die There’s 20,000 Cornishmen Will Know The Reason Why”.
One might ask why a Northern England Regiment plays a Cornish tune. I can only assume, because two Colonels of The King’s Own Regiment 1688 to 1692 were brothers Maj- General Charles Trelawny and Brig-General Henry Trelawny. They were also brothers of John Trelawny the imprisoned bishop. I hope all this is not too confusing.
The song, being sung by a Cornish choir is quite good listening and can be heard on different websites.
I cannot leave this article without mentioning another tune that in my opinion was the best of all. The name of which is D’Ye ken John Peel, a tune and song very significant to Cumbria. The Border Regiment which mainly recruited from the then Cumberland County made this tune into a quick march. When the Border Regt amalgamated with the Kings Own to Form the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment the tune went with it. I personally love the tune, because on returning to England with the King’s Own Royal Border Regt after our service in the Cameroons. The regiment came home on the Troopship S.S.Devonshire. While entering the dock complex of Southampton, in the distance caught in the wind, we could hear faintly D’Ye ken John Peel being played and as we got nearer to the ship’s berth, the tune became louder and louder. The cheering by my fellow soldiers was quite deafening to say the least. The tune was being played by the band of the Lancashire Prince of Wales Volunteers who were stationed in the South of England. It was a moment in my life that will be with me until the day I die. As I write this, I have a tingling feeling that brings back that wonderful day. So you the reader will understand why I love the tune D’Ye ken John Peel. I am also sure also, that many readers of this article will have had similar homecomings as this and I am also sure it would have been one of the happiest days of your life.


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