Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme—a battle in the First World War that lasted from July 1 through mid November of 1916. In the end, over a million young men lay dead or wounded, while the Allied Forces managed to gain a mere six miles of territory.
“Roses of Picardy” is a British song written in 1916, with lyrics by Frederick Weatherly and music by Haydn Wood. It eventually became one of the most famous songs of the First World War, selling at a rate of 50,000 copies of the sheet music per month, with British soldiers singing it when they enlisted for the Front in France and Flanders.
Following the war, the song was used as a way to help soldiers who were suffering from shell-shock regain their powers of speech.
Of course following the Battle of the Somme, American Expeditionary Forces would join the fight in 1917—leaving for Europe via the port of Hoboken.
As General John, “Blackjack” Pershing famously declared, troops would either find themselves in “Heaven, Hell or Hoboken… by Christmas.” Pershing was a year off, as the war lasted through November of 1918.
Here’s Hoboken’s own Frank Sinatra—who was six months old when the Battle of the Somme commenced—singing “Roses of Picardy,” recorded in London in 1962.