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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

"We stopped them on the Marne"


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Some time ago somebody posted a query involving the source of a song one verse of which stared with the line "We stopped them on the Marne". Unfortunately having spotted the answer during some research into something else I can't locate the original posting - I'll just have to fire away into the brown.

The song was originally written for a musical play entitled Getting Together which was first performed at the Lyric Theatre on Broadway in March 1918. The play was written by Ian Hay (Major John Hay Beith MC) and J Hartley Manners with songs by Lt Gitz Rice and was intended as a recruiting vehicle for the British and Canadian Recruitment Commission. After a stint on Broadway the play went on tour in the US. It cast some shadows or echos to other works. Firstly those who have read Sassoons works will remember a poem in which he wishes that a tank would come crashing through the stalls - this play had one on stage. Anyone who saw 'Oh what a lovely war' will remember the scene in the music hall where the singer draws men in the audience on stage and into the unlovely arms of the recruiting sergeant - Blanche Bates achieved the same result on the opening night of this play. There is even a slight touch of Dad's Army - remember Corporal 'they don't like it upem' Jones? well one of the performers in this play was a man who had been in the square broken by the "Fuzzy Wuzzies" ("the Gatling's jammed and the colonels dead") during the first Sudan War (he played the pipes to rally the men on that occasion and he played the pipes in the "trenches" in the play.)

The play's tour was closely coordinated with the performances of one of the Britannia tanks touring the US and Canada. Between them they succeeded in recruiting some 45,000 British and Canadian ex pats. As well as being a recruitment success the play was a commercial one as well and played to packed houses.

Ian Hay was a successful author and play wight who often collaborated with P G Wodehouse and later wrote the screenplays for some of Hitchcock's early movies. I don't know anything about Lt Glitz Rice - perhaps he had a grandson called Tim?

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