I Didn’t Raise My Boy to be a Soldier

Being a Londoner I have always taken a keen interest in cockney heritage and none more so than that most joyous of London attractions, The Music Hall.

Reading through the history of the Music Hall, at least the official one, you would think that it was as patriotic as fish and chips or football but there were dissenting voices that tried to counteract the mindless jingoism and xenophobia around the Boer War and The First World War.

Finding these dissenting voices is hard but I’ve had a look around and found the above song.

The provenance of the song can be read on Wikipedia here.

Sung in the Vaudeville/Music Hall style originally in the USA where isolationist and anti war sentiment was more to the fore than anywhere else, one can only imagine what would have happened to any Music Hall artist who had dared sing it in England. Sadly I can find no evidence of this song ever having been sung in a London Music Hall.

Graham Horne served in the British Army, he now lives in Bournemouth and is a member of Veterans For Peace UK.


  1. Catherine says:

    Yep – I noticed the pearly kings and queens were there on ‘Armed Forces Day’ on Islington Green in London, along with parents bizarrely lifting their toddlers up into a military jeep. I found it pretty weird: the whole thing a fancy dress parade. Perhaps there are no voices stronger and truer against war than mothers, and the veterans who have actually seen the reality.

  2. alan Horton says:

    A cute little number Graham, as is the cartoon. 50 yrs or so before the transformational anti war songs of Bob Dylan and his generation. Like many of his generation I thought they might change the world.
    Eloquent as many of them were they seem to have merged into the “Bubble Gum” of popular modern day lyrics.
    The weapons once again, have grown sharper than the pen.

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