War History Online is proud to be part of the World Premiere of Ricky Warwick’s new video: Schwaben Redoubt!
Ricky said about his latest song: “This is a song about a friendship found between two teenage lads from Ireland in a trench in Northern France on the morning of the 1st July 1916…a hundred years ago this year. One from the North one from the South who would on any other day hate each other’s guts but today all they have is each other, a shared fear of death and a shared name…Schwaben Redoubt was the name of the German position they walked towards that morning ….and into death.”
The song takes us back to Northern France in the summer of 1916. Thousands of Irishmen, from both the North and South of the land, fought as part of the British forces with outstanding bravery in the foxholes and trenches of the Somme Valley against the German troops.
On the morning of July 1st, they fixed bayonets and crossed the lines into a no man’s land from which they knew that many of them would never return.
Written by Ricky Warwick and Sam Robinson and taken from the recently released Ricky Warwick album When Patsy Cline was Crazy (and Guy Mitchell Sang the Blues) Schwaben Redoubt tells the tale of two Irish lads, Billy Drennan and Liam Kelly, an Ulsterman and a Leinsterman, as they find themselves in the confusion, shoulder to shoulder on the front line and about to advance towards almost certain death. Both are called William, Billy, with the Protestant derivative of the name hails from Belfast’s Sandy Row, Liam the Catholic has been born and raised on the North side of Dublin.
In the days before the battle begins, two lads find themselves in a sleazy bordello, trying to live a lifetime in 48 hours. Billy leaves his orange order sash in a woman’s room, Liam shares her sheets in the days that follow and in a bizarre twist of fate is able to hand it back to his new found comrade as the shells and mortars rain all around them.
On any other day and in any other circumstances the two lads would hate each other, raised with different political and religious beliefs, but today, a long way from home, in all probability they will die side by side.
The Schwaben Redoubt is the fortified German hilltop the boys are about to attack. The song features guest vocals by Belfast-born Jake Burns – frontman of the legendary Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers. As the 100th anniversary of the battle approaches, the song is a tribute to all the young men of Ireland, both North and South, both Catholic and Protestant, who gave their lives for the same cause.
“When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today” – John Maxwell Edmunds, 1916
“Whether Ricky and Sam know it, they’re writing new folk songs for Belfast. I was delighted to be asked to be a small part of that.”
– Jake Burns, Stiff Little Fingers
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