Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fiddlers Green

While searching for the Fiddlers Green website yesterday, I came across some interesting pieces of trivia about the name.

Fiddlers Green was a sort of happy hunting ground for 18th century sailors, where the dancing was constant, though the dancers never tired, rum and tobacco were plentiful and the ladies accommodating.

At Fiddler’s Green, where seamen true
When here they’ve done their duty
The bowl of grog shall still renew
And pledge to love and beauty.

I remember vaguely the term being used in one of the Patrick O'Brian novels, but had never given it much thought.

What I had never heard of was the adoption of the term in a poem by the US Army, which you can hear above. Lyric below.

Halfway down the trail to Hell,
In a shady meadow green
Are the Souls of all dead troopers camped,
Near a good old-time canteen.
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Fiddlers' Green.

Marching past, straight through to Hell
The Infantry are seen.
Accompanied by the Engineers,
Artillery and Marines,
For none but the shades of Cavalrymen
Dismount at Fiddlers' Green.

Though some go curving down the trail
To seek a warmer scene.
No trooper ever gets to Hell
Ere he's emptied his canteen.
And so rides back to drink again
With friends at Fiddlers' Green.

And so when man and horse go down
Beneath a saber keen,
Or in a roaring charge of fierce melee
You stop a bullet clean,
And the hostiles come to get your scalp,
Just empty your canteen,
And put your pistol to your head
And go to Fiddlers' Green.

Grim stuff and reminiscent of Kipling's "Young British Soldier".


  1. Yes it did remind me of Kipling's "Young Soldier" . . . the ending very much so.

    -- Jeff

  2. Ah now that takes me back to my navy days and Bartholomew's Pub in Victoria, beer in hand, belting out ....
    " no more on the docks I'll be seen