Fuck ‘Em All

Artist
James Bell
Released
2018
  1. Fuck ‘Em All -:-- / 03:36

“There’s many an airman has blighted his life through writing rude words on the wall…”

History

Often better known as the more family-friendly Bless ‘Em All, the origins of this early 20th century British military song are not entirely clear. I think it’s likely it was written by a soldier serving in the colonial armed forces stationed in India. At a time when the British were still drunk on tales of their own military glory, I would imagine this would not have been an enviable posting. Instead of risking life to protect your loved ones back home, you were essentially a foreign police force maintaining just enough law and order to allow the wealthier Englishmen to loot India in whatever way they could. You really couldn’t distinguish yourself in any way, so you had no chance of promotion. This is by no means an anti-military song (it was cleverly repackaged later as wartime propaganda), but it perhaps shows the cracks in the patriotic mindset that seems to have been largely unquestioned for a couple of hundred years at least.

Lyrics

They say there’s a troopship just leaving Bombay, bound for old Blighty shore
Heavily laden with time expired men, bound for the land they adore
There’s many an airman just finishing his time, there’s many a twerp signing on
You’ll get no promotion this side of the ocean, so cheer up my lads
Fuck ’em all

—————————————–
Fuck em all, fuck em all
The long and the short and the tall
Fuck all the sergeants and WO1s
Fuck all the corporals and their fucking sons
‘Cos were saying goodbye to them all
As back to their billets they crawl
You’ll get no promotion this side of the ocean, so cheer up my lads
Fuck ’em all
—————————————–

They say if you work hard you’ll get better pay
We’ve heard all that before
Clean up your buttons and polish your boots
Scrub out the barrack room floor
There’s many a rookie has taken it in, hook line and sinker an ‘all
You’ll get no promotion this side of the ocean
So cheer up my lads
Fuck ’em all

Now they say that the Sergeant’s a very nice chap, oh what a tale to tell
Ask him for leave on a Saturday night and he’ll pay your fare home as well
There’s many an airman has blighted his life through writing rude words on the wall
You’ll get no promotion this side of the ocean
So cheer up my lads
Fuck ’em all

Credits & Copyright

Traditional, adapted and recorded by James Bell in November 2018. Released in November 2018. (P) House of Lyra.