Into the Jaws of Death

Into the Jaws of Death

The D-Day 70th Anniversary in Normandy was very interesting and moving.
My Dad, Les Richards, didn’t take part in the invasion. He was in the Commandos, in Italy.
The soldiers who weren’t there were rudely referred to as The D-Day Dodgers.
This wasn’t true at all, of course.
A few days before D-Day, my Dad was fighting at Monte Cassino, in Italy. He was also involved in the Yugoslavia Liberation, and spent some time in Albania, helping them.
(But as soon as medical supplies were shipped there, my Dad said that some of the Albanians were stealing them and selling them on the Black Market, leaving their own wounded men to suffer.)
Several years ago, before my Dad died, there was a tune on the radio called The D-Day Dodgers. It was sung to the tune of Lili Marlene.
‘Hey,’ said my Dad, ‘I wrote that!’

Wikepedia says;
The song was written in November 1944 by Lance-Sergeant Harry Pynn of the Tank Rescue Section, 19 Army Fire Brigade, who was with the 79th Division just south of Bologna, Italy.[1] There were many variations on verses and even the chorus, but the song generally and sarcastically referred to how easy their life in Italy was.
Although Hamish Henderson did not write the song, he did collect different versions of it and it is attributed to him in the sleeve notes of the Ian Campbell Folk Group’s “Contemporary Campbells”. Many different variations have been recorded.

We’re the D-Day Dodgers out in Italy –
Always on the vino, always on the spree.
Eighth Army scroungers and their tanks
We live in Rome – among the Yanks.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

We landed at Salerno, a holiday with pay,
Jerry brought the band down to cheer us on our way
Showed us the sights and gave us tea,
We all sang songs, the beer was free.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, way out in Italy.

The Volturno and Cassino were taken in our stride
We didn’t have to fight there. We just went for the ride.
Anzio and Sangro were all forlorn.
We did not do a thing from dusk to dawn.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

On our way to Florence we had a lovely time.
We ran a bus to Rimini right through the Gothic Line.
On to Bologna we did go.
Then we went bathing in the Po.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

Once we had a blue light that we were going home
Back to dear old Blighty, never more to roam.
Then somebody said in France you’ll fight.
We said never mind, we’ll just sit tight,
The windy D-Day Dodgers, out in Sunny Italy.

Now Lady Astor, get a load of this.
Don’t stand up on a platform and talk a load of piss.
You’re the nation’s sweetheart, the nation’s pride
We think your mouth’s too bloody wide.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in Sunny Italy.

When you look ’round the mountains, through the mud and rain
You’ll find the crosses, some which bear no name.
Heartbreak, and toil and suffering gone
The boys beneath them slumber on
They were the D-Day Dodgers, who’ll stay in Italy.

So listen all you people, over land and foam
Even though we’ve parted, our hearts are close to home.
When we return we hope you’ll say
“You did your little bit, though far away
All of the D-Day Dodgers, way out there in Italy.”

Recordings of D-Day Dodgers:
Ian Campbell Folk Group on Contemporary Campbells (1965)
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem

But guess what? My Mum has the original copy, written in Italy in my Dad’s neat handwriting, on Wartime notepaper!