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I chose to send this essay as my Extended Essay for the International

Baccalaureate. It was a fascinating intellectual experience that still means a great
deal to me.

At the beginning of 11th grade I was convinced I would do my Extended Essay
in chemistry about Emoto’s water crystals. I started my research in September of
that year, spending my lunch periods in the chemistry lab. Unfortunately, my
research was too difficult to carry out with the limited school lab equipment.

Meanwhile we were studying the First World War in History. I always liked
studying this war because it was the war to change all wars, it impacted people
from all origins and social classes and, therefore, all forms of art. One of my
projects for this topic was to build a small blog about an aspect of the war. I
knew I wanted to do it on art, because I had already studied some Great War
paintings for the Brevet des Collèges in 9th grade, especially the works of Otto
Dix. I also remembered the Second World War songs we had studied in depth. I
knew French songs were powerful tools of the French Résistance in WW2, and
studying the play War Horse in my Theater course led me to understand that the
British wrote many WW1 songs. I therefore wondered “What about French
WW1 songs?”

As I continued my research on this topic, I was struck by the influence songs
had on people’s emotions and opinions.

My research resulted in a ten-page paper that included the translations of the
songs I found most moving.

This research taught me many things: about research techniques, of course, but
also about the power and importance of song and music in life.

I truly hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

Salomé Lepez Da Silva Duarte (CAID 12273375)
Salomé Lepez Da Silva Duarte - CAID 12273375

French songs and their meaning in the First World War

For what purpose di d t he French use songs duri ng t he First
Worl d War and how were t hey able t o achi eve it?

French postcard A concert in a trench A cello of new fashion - French soldiers in Carency, North of France, listening to a cello made of
recycled material found on the battle field.

Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom
Boom, Boom, Boom,
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom,
Boom, Boom, Boom.
- Private Baldrik, The German Guns

Salomé Lepez Da Silva Duarte

Salomé Lepez Da Silva Duarte - CAID 12273375


This essay explores the different goals of song, and the ways these were achieved, during the First

World War in France. To answer our question, different kinds of songs are examined according to the

period in which they were composed, their lyrics as well as their audience and composers. Primary

sources found in printed or online collections are explored along with secondary sources about the

context in which the songs were written, written by French experts on the topic.

The investigation will first consider the ways in which songs were used as propaganda throughout the

First World War. The war will be divided into two periods so that the different changes and the artists’

reactions to these changes are considered. Song used as propaganda for the non-combatants will also

be covered. Following this, the inquiry will consider how soldiers and non-soldiers have used songs to

testify to and protest against their conditions during the war. This section will include the different

means soldiers and civilians used to express their emotions and spread messages by song.

The conclusion reached is that songs were used both by propagandists and by the French people to

translate their response to the war. The songs always use rhyme, captivating tunes, regular tempos,

simplicity and symbols in their lyrics in order to be easily remembered and understood by all. Already

existing melodies were reused to add an undertone to the song (often irony) and be even more easily

memorisable. Musical accompaniment was rare for non-propaganda songs when written by soldiers,

as instruments were scarce in the trenches.

Word Count: 262

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Table of Contents

Abstract ................................................................................................................................................................ 3

Table of Contents .............................................................................................................................................. 4

Introduction ....................................................................................................................................................... 5


Propaganda songs at the beginning of the War .................................................................................................................6

During the War ..............................................................................................................................................................................9

Soldier made ................................................................................................................................................................................ 13

Civilian made .............................................................................................................................................................................. 16

Conclusion ......................................................................................................................................................... 17

Appendices ........................................................................................................................................................ 18

Works cited ....................................................................................................................................................... 26

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In the XIX century and beginning of XX, France was a rural country of slow industrialisation where

agriculture, folkloric culture and religion were the keystones of an average citizen’s life. Music had a

crucial importance in all these three activities: pifferari,I strolling fiddlers and street singers were still

very common and families sung during meals with friends or on cold winter days, folkloric songs or

verses they wrote for the occasion. Every village had at least a brass band, and starting in the second

half of the XIX century, children were taught how to play patriotic songs but also indoctrination songs

about the terrible “Prussians”. With urbanisation, many provincials moved to the city to work for the

higher classes. People from all regions of France met in one place and shared their music in public

places such as cafés. The creation of the “petit format” in the second half of the XIX century (Wion)

allowed songs to be shared more easily: domestics often brought to the village the distinguished

repertoire “Monsieur, Madame” full of Parisian tunes (Ribouillault). This did not only make the

musical industry boom, it also helped ideas to be spread to a wider range of people.

As few were written on paper by the original authors, finding the source for the melody or lyrics is

difficult. Finding the original song is even more difficult: because they were transmitted orally, each

singer brought his own interpretation to the song depending from the state of France, the War, the

climate, or his origins. Moreover, the death rate on the battlefield often did not allow songs to be

attributed to someone, but rather what he stood for. Because the soldiers often did not retell their

memories of the war after the conflict ended, most witnesses and songwriters died before sharing the

Front songs with l’Arrière. The lack of records was enhanced with songs that were censored, as

revealing the authors would have meant their execution.

Songs and the First World War still have a strong meaning to the French today. For the 100th

anniversary of the war, the media posted many studies regarding the “forgotten songs” (such as the

podcasts of France Info, the special June 2014 edition of Books or the double pages of Libération

(Fanen)). Even though they are today considered part of provincial folklores and only sung for non-

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urban wedding or regional festivals, First World War songs remain a strong part of the French culture

that is still taught to middle school students in History of Arts.

France widely used propaganda in all its aspects. Nicknamed bourrage de crâne (literally “brain

jamming”) by the soldiers, it was most obvious at the very beginning of the war to then become

mainly systematic censorship and terror in the trenches. When simple posters to value conscription

and patriotism were sufficient to keep the troops going at the beginning of the war, it quickly became

difficult to keep the fleur au fusil after the first massacres. Generals in the North of France used 675

soldiers to be executed as examples (Tornel) soon after traditional propaganda was no longer fully

efficient, as a desperate act to keep men from rebelling and deserting.

Propaganda songs at the beginning of the War

French propaganda during the First World War always pictured the French soldiers as courageous

warriors who loved and were loved by their families. The eagle, often painted in black, was the

symbol of the Kaiser's Germany and army. In poster 1, the soldier is pictured so courageous that he

takes back the French flag from a veracious giant black eagle without an armour or gun. He is only

wearing his helmet, specific to French infantry soldiers. The golden yellow background underlines the

glory of his act that is greater than what the frame of the picture can hold. Similar symbols were often

found in early propaganda songs.

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Poster 1. Propaganda poster from the bank 'Crédit
Lyonnais' dated 1918 for the 4th national war loan.
"Subscribe to the 4th national war loan"

The military used songs to rally the troops before going 'over the top'. Usual marching songs such as

the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, were used for their belligerent lyrics 1 and complete

musical accompaniment, but many songs were created specifically for this war. Throughout the war,

they always rhyme and their melodies are either rhythmically military or very catchy so that the

message they carry is well transmitted and remembered.

Two main categories of patriotic songs were formed at the Front.

First are the neonationalist military songs exclaiming national pride and the joy of military life, which

were very popular before World War 1. These majorly triumphal songs, blossoming from the

beginning of international tensions in 1900, were especially popular after the loi des trois ansII was

adopted. The government supported their production, as the pieces were great means to achieve the

Union Sacrée.III They were often composed by men during they military service, who took their own

instruments and musical experience from all over the country, that used song as the rallying point.

Such songs include L’hymne de 1914,2 ordering France to “stand up!” and to unite: “No more parties,

no more political clans, under the flag, we all are French.”IV Chargez! of Brérad glorifies the beauty of

charging French armies, just like Napoleonian Empire period. The March tempo, almost full marching

Cf. Appendix VI
Song : Félia Litvinne, Lyrics : Auguste Verquière, Music : G. Duca

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band (there are no drums but the brass is greatly present) and sole cry “charge!” as the chorus all

glorify fighting for France.

We still see songs of this category forming during the first battles. De la Marne au Rhin,3 composed

after the victorious battle of Marne (5th to 12th September 1914) invokes a representative of each group

of the French population (an old man, a soldier, a woman and an officer) to glorify the duty of a

soldier and sing that “Freedom calls […] and if we must die for Her, let’s die to the last.”V

The second type of the most common propaganda song is the vengeful kind, filled with hatred for the

enemy. Even though general revengeful lyrics are almost always present in patriotic songs, these are

much more offensive towards the Boches. The antagonism towards Germany and German politicians

was present in France from the Seven Years War (1754-1763) and became extreme in the XIX

century. Already extremely popular from the Franco-Prussian war in 1871 (when the French were

defeated, loosing, among others, Alsace-Lorraine), these songs encourage soldiers by proclaiming that

they are the glorious “barbaric” and “wolf hunters”4 of France. For example, Il n’est pas mort… Il est

crevé…!5 celebrates Bismark’s death by calling him “an animal, a deceitful, a counterfeiter, […] that

had an ugly bonce, a purple nose, a huge behind” and screaming “Merde pour lui”. The song was

ironically based on Hélas! Quelle douleur VI tune. Soldiers often dedicated songs that denigrated

Kaiser Wilhelm II to their loved generals: Retraite de Guillaume claims that the Kaiser “will never

triumph on the French people! Ah!” and is dedicated to the “Généralissime” VII Joffre. (Audoin-

Rouzeau et al.)

Songs denigrating the German soldier are also very common. Pictured as a barbarian “slaughtering the

elderly, the children, and the rest, [he] makes it hang” 6 on the melody of J’ui bête,VIII the Boches were

sung about to keep the troops together after the first lengthy battles of the end of 1914. The Marche

anti-boche of 1915 summarizes the message of this category of songs:

Lyrics : Louis Bousquet, Music : L. Raiter-Elbé
La chasse au barbares, Gaston Montéhus and La chasse au loups, Eugénie Buffet and René de Buxeuil –
Unknown author, after 1898 (Wion)
Petite chanson de Boche, lyrics by Ltd. Adrien Peytel, (Wion)

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“The Boches! There has to be no more!

It’s a race

that we go without!

They need to be hit on!

We don’t want them no more.”

During the War

As the war lengthened, the morale of the exasperated French soldiers became more and more negative.

When the combatants realized the horror of trenches, new destructive war technologies such as shells,

and the reality of “bourrage de crâne”, propaganda music started to change.

One of the most famous propaganda songs was great during the battle of Verdun, a fortified city in

Lorraine (North Eastern France) that was of cultural importance IX for the French. This battle,

beginning on February 16, 1916 and lasting over 9 months, is considered as the most colossal battle

between French and German during the war. The number of casualties was enormous (≏378 000 for

the French troops, 337 000 for the German ones (Heer and Naumann)). Philippe Pétain became a

national hero thanks to his services as commandant in chief in Verdun and was even given the title of

Marshal of France in November 1918 for the same reasons.

The song On ne passe pas7 (They shall not pass) was written by Jack Cazol and Eugène Joullot in

1916 and was eagerly supported by high ranking officials. The song’s simple melody, regular tempo

(just slightly lower than a regular French march) X and powerful symbolism made it the most popular

Cf. Appendix I

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French World War 1 song to this day. The 'Black Eagle' and 'crows', representing the German army

and soldiers, are stopped by the “young heroes” woken up by the Gallic rooster’s cry. Like many

songs of this period, there is a reference to a heroic event: the “debout les morts!” shouted by Adjutant

Péricart during the victorious last offensive during the battle of Saint-Mihiel in April 1915. The

anecdote was extensively relayed by the press throughout the war and the exclamation reused many

times in songs (Wion).

Although sound is described in details in the lyrics (cri, ivres de bruits, chantont la Marseillaise),

there is no musical accompaniment. Only the march like tempo and strong lyrics carry the song. This

is due to the scarcity of instruments in the trenches and even when soldiers managed to make violins

or cellos out of cigar or fruit boxes, military music, usually very loud, was devastated by the acoustic

power of new weapons (Audoin-Rouzeau et al.). This is why songs created on the Front had no or a

very simple musical accompaniment.

A more "official" song (officially recorded in a studio, not made in the trenches) is La Toussaint

Rouge8 (The Red All Saint's Day) recorded for All Saint's Day in 1917. The song starts with the first

verse of the Marseillaise to then change to a “song of glory” that encouraged the “invisible warriors”.

Contrary to earlier songs of the same genre, there is no mention of the glory of dying for one’s

country, the despicable Boches, not even extermination the black eagle. There is also no mention of

the exasperation of the battles: the song simply salutes the soon victorious soldiers, dead or alive,

home. The author glorifies the ones who made history and emphasizes the beauty of peace, the “song

of glory [that] leads all our brave boys under the Wings of Victory!” This other means used to cheer

up the soldiers seems to be of last resource.

We can clearly see a change between a patriotic song written in the beginning and the end of the war:

the older songs focus on the excitement that war brings whereas this excitement is lost as the war goes

to only leave patriotism as a tool to motivate troops. Death is rarely mentioned in the older songs when

Cf. Appendix II

Salomé Lepez Da Silva Duarte - CAID 12273375

it is the main topic in the earlier ones, especially in La Toussaint Rouge, which want to reaffirm that

dying for France is humble and makes the combatants invincible. Although the constituents of a song

change slightly over the years, the tempo and tone are very strong in all songs, keeping the purpose of

these songs: rally the troops and give them patriotic courage.

Propaganda was not exclusively for the combatants: the government made sure that the national

morale was good enough to support its decisions and industrial plans. Although propaganda through

posters and “Anastasie’s scisors” XI were present from the outbreak, songs specifically for the

ArrièreXII appeared only in 1915, when the war started to be longer than expected. Mostly dedicated

to women (as they had to replace men at work), these songs often encouraged the production and the

industrial position they had to keep up with the demand.

One of the first Arrière songs, Tricotter, fillettes de France… was written in early 1915. Realising the

lack of equipment for soldiers fighting in winter, thicker clothing was urgently needed for the soldiers

to survive in the trenches. The government then started a campaign of “national knitting” and made

knitted socks honourable proofs of patriotism. Even the upper class women asked their domestics for

lessons so that they could knit for few hours every day for their country (Dicale). The song, with a

light yet captivating tune, orders: “Knit, girls of France, some scarves, gloves, stockings” and starts

again for “Grand-mothers of France” and “Everywhere in France” because “the trench is cold, and the

days tiring.”

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Poster 2. Postcard dated 1914 for the National Knitting campaign.
"I’ve made a jumper and a balaclava that will keep you warm during
the campaign"

Another song, Tourneuse d’obus (1916) testifies of the importance of women for the weaponry

production during the war. The munitionettes are extremely proud of serving their country by

replacing men in shell factories, to the point they get “blisters on [their] hands”. Mélanie fait des

munitions written by Georgel even mentions his neighbours had to do the cleaning now that their maid

abandoned them to “go turn some shells”. But the harsh working conditions for these 100 000 women

(days of 11 to 12 hours, no free Sundays and sometimes night time production) lead to strikes in 1917.

The strikers sang this song to underline these conditions added to “feeding the elders” and being ready

to “go to the train station” pick up their Poilu.XIII

These songs were most popular at the beginning of the war and during the biggest battles. But the end

of 1916 saw the creation of song with a completely different, if not the opposite, message.

By the end of 1915, soldiers, as well as the Arrière started to be tired of their living conditions,

imposed by the war and their government. At the same time, a stalemate in the war was taking place

internationally: both the Alliance and Entente lost men and battles in numbers.

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This global weariness was the trigger to mutinies in the trenches and protests in government-

controlled factories by late 1916 and 1917. The protesters, with or without guns, used song as a major


Soldier made songs

At the Front, songs served as pastimes for soldiers: along with quiet singing in the trenches, the

regiment bands performed up to four times a day for the wounded, the civilians or officers.

Songs denouncing the terrible conditions of the soldiers were created as early as trench war began to

prolong in 1915.

Le Bois Le Prêtre9 (Le Prêtre Woods) does not explicitly encourage soldiers to go on strike, it only

describes the setting of the battle in 1915. The disastrous battle in Le Prêtre woods, staring in

September 1914 lasting 10 months, caused the deaths of 7 083 French and 6 982 German soldiers. The

French lost to the Germans a few hectares of forest and many “guys with bright futures”. Like many

songs of the First World War, the song’s melody is borrowed from Au Bois de Boulogne to add a

touch of irony XIV and facilitate its memorization. It abounds with "cut" words, which are sign of

informality: the author is sure to be understood.

Although the song mentions “the poisonous Boche” once, the focus stays on the bodies hanged on

trees by the impact of “steel ingots”, the lice and Piperonyl, XV being a purotinXVI that’s “both hunter

and game”, “living and sleeping in mud”. It is also one of the first to mention the dead soldiers as


Cf. Appendix III

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Censorship became extremely strong after this song was created. One note about the depressing state

of the Front could mean death for the one who sang it. Very few songs about mutinies survived, and

La Chanson de la Craonne is one of them.

La Chanson de la Craonne (The song of Craonne), written in 1917 (Dubé and Marchioro), is the

famous World War One anti-militaristic song. Written unanimously, the song is based on a tune of the

popular love song Bonsoir m'amour (Goodnight My Love) by Charles Sablon (1911). The government

censored it until 1919 and offered an important reward (1 million francs)XVII if one denounced its

author. That is one of the reasons why it has had multiple names: Les sacrifiés (The scarified), Sur le

plateau de Lorette (On the plateau of Lorette), La chanson de Lorette (Lorette's song) (Dubé and


The song was first used during the mutiny that followed the disastrous offensive of General Robert

Nivelle at Le Chemin des Dames, in spring 1917 (“Histoire de France En Chansons”). The offensive

killed 147 000 men and wounded 100 000. 500 mutineers were given the death penalty, by only 26

were actually executed (“Histoire de France En Chansons”).

The musical accompaniment was put together only in 1919. The song was reused for different

mutinies during the war and soldiers changed the lyrics according to their location. It was used for the

battle of Notre Dame de Lorette and in Verdun with for chorus "It's in Verdun, at the Vaux fort that

we risked our lives...". The song was also used by anti-capitalists ("fat gentlemen", "those who have

the dough", "fat people" representing capitalists) and contributing to the mutinies, rout and retreat of

Russian soldiers in France after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 (Carrez).

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First manuscripts of two of the
versions of 'La chanson de Craonne'
(1917) (Carrez)

A few songs illustrate the "homesickness" of the soldiers, and were written at about the same time.

Soldiers tried to cheer themselves up by singing their common nostalgia. La lettres du combattant and

La lettre de la tranchée10 are the illustration of typical letters soldiers would write to their “beloved

dear”. Apart from describing the living conditions, the songs share the melancholy and fears of the

Both written by Albert Larrieux

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soldiers by many exclamations and, in La lettres du combattant, the unfinished ending of the letter

part of the song followed by:

“This, madam, is a letter

that your husband, a great heart,

made me swear to give it to you,

when he died at the fields of honour.”

Civilian made songs

Few songs testifying to conditions at l’Arrière survived “les ciseaux d’Anastasie”. We can still find

songs such as Mon pliant sous l’bras, subtitled “Patient song”, that use irony to wait patiently in line

in front of stores lacking stock. A few other songs mention censorship and spies hiding in France, such

as Méfiez-vous! Taisez-vous!. The song warns “walls have ears […] spies are everywhere” and “with

reason the Minister invite the population to distrust and remain quiet in the interest of the Nation”. On

s’en souviendra de la guerre, written by the comic singers Tranel, Fortugé and Pauley, is a long

complaint about all the Arrière’s problems during the war: from “paying 20 bucks for potatoes” to “all

going down to the cellar” during alerts. It also mentions the popular saying that although “the soldier

never complains […] the people of the Arrière moan about […] nothing”. Although it is true that a

running jokeXVIII about the civilians’ complaints was popular on the Front, we know from songs and

letters from soldiers that censorship made sure to erase complaints from the front.

The Arrière also sung about longing for their sons, husbands, men as a way to increase morale. One

famous example is Le cri du poilu 11 (The hairy's cry) written by Vincent Scotto in 1916. He writes in

his memoirs: "[...] one morning of 1916, thinking our huge Front, all these men without a woman, I

thought: 'If a woman came by here, what joy would it bring to the Poilus!' I immediately got the idea

of a song."XIX

Cf. Appendix V

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This investigation has sought to uncover the different purposes of songs in France during the First

World War. The evidence and arguments considered has led me to discover that song was an

extremely important means of expression for the French, as it was a critical part of their lives before

the World War and was a language spoken by all French, and therefore it was used as propaganda both

but also as anti-propaganda on the Front and the Arrière.

During the First World War in France, songs not only served as expressions of government and

civilian views toward and messages (patriotic or pacifist) about the war, but also as a means to resolve

morale during difficult times. They were such powerful tools that the government censored them if

they were against their political values and they encouraged the making of patriotic songs instead.

My study demonstrates that there are problems with reaching a definite answer to the question as the

source material is very scarce or imprecise, there are very few recollections of the identities of authors,

most likely because they passed away or feared to be executed for their works. First-hand stories of the

making of songs in the war are very rare, since there are no more WW1 veterans alive XX and few

records of French singers of that time. Songs are used as political tools later during the Second World

War and multiple conflicts for similar purposes, showing again the power of the alliance of music and


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N.B. : Documents 1 to 5 were translated into English by the author of this essay.

Appendix I On ne passe pas (They shall not pass)

French Translation

Un aigle noir a plané sur la ville A black eagle hovered over the city
Il a juré d'être victorieux He vowed to be victorious
De tous côtés, les corbeaux se faufilent From all sides, crows sneak
Dans les sillons et dans les chemins creux In the furrows and the sunken roads
Mais tout à coup, le coq gaulois claironne But suddenly, the Gallic cock trumpets
"Cocorico, debout petits soldats ! “Cocorico, stand up little soldiers!
Le soleil luit, partout le canon tonne The sun shines, throughout the cannons roar
Jeunes héros, voici les grands combats !" Young heroes, here come the big fights”

{Refrain:} {Chorus:}
Et Verdun la victorieuse And Verdun the victorious
Pousse un cri que portent là-bas Screams a cry carried by
Les échos des bords de la Meuse The echoes of the banks of the Meuse
Halte-là ! On ne passe pas ! Stop! You shall not pass!
Plus de morgue, plus d'arrogance No more morgue, no more arrogance
Fuyez, barbares et laquais ! Flee, barbarians and lackeys!
C'est ici la porte de France This is the gate of France
Et vous ne passerez jamais ! And you will never pass!

Les ennemis s'avancent avec rage The enemies advance with rage
Énorme flot d'un vivant océan Huge flow of a lively ocean
Semant la mort partout sur son passage Spreading death everywhere along its path
Ivre de bruit, de carnage et de sang Hungry of noise, carnage and blood
Ils vont passer quand, relevant la tête, They are about to pass when, raising his head,
Un officier dans un suprême effort An officer in a supreme effort
Quoique mourant crie "À la baïonnette ! Although dying screams "At the bayonet!
Hardi les gars, debout ! Debout les morts !" Bold guys, stand up! Stand up dead!"

{au Refrain} {Chorus}

Mais nos enfants dans un élan sublime But our children in a sublime momentum
Se sont dressés et bientôt l'aigle noir Stood up and soon the Black Eagle
La rage au cœur, impuissant en son crime Rage in his heart, impotent in his crime
Vit disparaître son suprême espoir Sees its last hope disappear
Les vils corbeaux devant l'âme française Vile crows before the French soul
Tombent, sanglants, c'est le dernier combat Fall, bloody, this is the last fight

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Pendant que nous chantons la Marseillaise While we sing the Marseillaise
Les assassins fuient devant les soldats The murderers flee seeing the soldiers

{au Refrain} {Chorus}

Appendix II. La Toussaint Rouge (The Red All Saint's day)

French Translation

Allons enfants de la Patrie, Arise children of the fatherland,
Soldat vainqueur, héros Soldier winner, hero
Gloire à vous tous, vous êtes forts soldats, Glory to you all, you are strong soldiers
Salut à vous. Salute to you.

Au-dessus de nos cathédrales, Above our cathedrals,
Dominons les sanglots et les râles, Let us dominate the sobs and groans,
Écoutez le clairon des morts, Listen to the bugle of the dead,
C'est le glas des cloches françaises! This is the death knell of French bells!
On dirait malgré leur effort, They seem to, despite their efforts,
Qu'elles chantent une Marseillaise! Sing the Marseillaise!

Sur les cités et sur les champs, On the cities and on the fields,
Écoutez les cloches qui sonnent, Listen to the bells ringing,
Entendez comme elles résonnent, Hear how they sound,
Pour les morts et pour les vivants! For the dead and the living!
Écoutez! C'est un chant de gloire, Listen! It is a song of glory
Qui passe au-dessus de vos fronts! Passing over your forehead!
Et conduit tout nos gars vaillants And leads all our brave boys
Sous les ailes de la Victoire! Under the Wings of Victory!

Tremblez tyrans et vous perfides, Tremble tyrants and traitors,
Qui croyaient morts, ces guerriers invincibles Who believed dead, these invincible warriors
De Rivoli, de Friedland, d'Arcole From Rivoli, Friedland, Arcola
et de Valmy. and Valmy.
S'ils sont morts, nous suivons leurs traces! If they're dead, we follow in their footsteps!
Haut les cœurs, l'armée triomphante! High hearts, triumphant army!
Regardez, aux plis des drapeaux Look, by the folds of the flag
Défiler l'histoire française! Scroll French history!
Écoutez sortir (des caveaux) See how they get out (of their vaults)
Les soldats de 1793! The soldiers of 1793!

Sur les cités et sur les champs, On the cities and on the fields,

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Écoutez les cloches qui sonnent, Listen to the bells ringing,
Entendez comme elles résonnent, Hear how they sound,
Pour les morts et pour les vivants! For the dead and the living!
Écoutez! C'est un chant de gloire, Listen! It is a song of glory
Qui passe au-dessus de vos fronts! Passing over your forehead!
Et conduit la grande Nation And it drives the great Nation
Sous les ailes de la Victoire! Under the Wings of Victory!

Appendix III. Le Bois Le Prêtre (Le Pretre Woods), Lucien Boyer, 1915

French Translation

Je vais chanter le bois fameux, I sing about the famous wood
Où, chaque soir, dans l'air brumeux, Where every evening in the misty air,
Rode le Boche venimeux Come the poisonous Boche
A l'œil de traître : With the eye of a traitor
Où nos poilu au cœur altier Where our hairy, with strong hearts
Contre ce bandit de métier, Against this bandit business,
Se sont battus sans lâcher pied : Fought without resting a minute:
Le Bois- le-Prêtre ! Le Bois -le-Pretre!

On est terré comme un renard, We are holed up like a fox,
On est tiré comme un canard, We are shot like a duck,
Si l'on sort, gare au traquenard If one goes away, beware of traps
Où l'on s'empêtre ..... Where one gets entangled...
Dès que l'on quitte son bourbier As soon as you leave the quagmire
On reçoit un lingot d'acier, We receive a steel ingot,
Car l'on est chasseur et gibier Because we are both hunter and prey
Au Bois- le-Prêtre ! At Bois-le-Pretre!

Tous les arbres y sont hachés, All trees are chopped
Et des Bavarois desséchés, And Barbarians, dried,
Là-haut, sont encore accrochés There, are still clinging
Sur un vieux hêtre. On an old beech.
Ils y sont pour longtemps, dit-on, They are there for a long time, we say,
Car, même le vautour glouton For even the greedy vulture
Vous a le dégoût du Teuton, Has the disgust of the Teuton
Au Bois- le-Prêtre ! At Bois-le- Pretre!

là-bas, le fauve, c'est le pou. Over there, the wild beast is the louse.
Ce que l'on se gratte, c'est fou!... We scratched ourselves, it's crazy! ...
D'abord , on lutte avec la pou_ First, we struggle with lice
De pyrètre. Of pyrethrin.
Puis aux "totos" on s'aguerrit, Then we get used to the louse,

Salomé Lepez Da Silva Duarte - CAID 12273375

Et l'on conclut avec esprit: And we conclude with spirit:
Plus on a de poux, plus on rit, Greater the lice, the merrier,
Au Bois- le-Prêtre ! At Bois-le- Pretre!

On est sale ,on est dégoutant, We are dirty, it 's disgusting,
On a tout de l'orang-outang, We are all orangutans
On rit de ressembbler pourtant We laughed for we look very much like them
A cet ancêtre ! These ancestors!
Dans la boue on vit et l'on dort, We live in the mud and we sleep in it,
Oui, mais se plaindre, on aurait tort: Yes, but to complain, it would be wrong:
La boue ! Elle a des reflets d'or Mud! It has gold highlights
Au Bois- le-Prêtre ! At Bois-le- Pretre!

Si, du canon bravant l'écho, If the barrel braving the echo
Le soleil y risque un bécot, The sun may risk a peck,
On peut voir le coquelicot You can see the poppy
Partout renaître .... Everywhere reborn ...
Car, dans un geste de semeur, Because, in a gesture of sower
Dieu, pour chaque Poilu qui meurt, God for each Hairy died,
Jette des légions d'honneur Throw legions of honour
Au Bois- le-Prêtre ! At Bois-le- Pretre!

Après la guerre nous irons After the war we will leave
Et nous nous agenouillerons, And we will kneel,
Sur chaque croix nous écrirons On each cross we will write
En grosses lettres : In large letters:
"Ci-git un gars plein d'avenir, Here lies a guy with a bright future
Qui sans un mot, sans un soupir, Who without a word, without a sigh,
Pour la France est tombé martyr For France was martyred
Au Bois- le-Prêtre ! At Bois-le- Pretre!

Note about the translation: the use of the word "toto" to say louse is not used anymore in
modern French. This meaning was popularized during the First World War and was
originally part of the Champagne patois. The word today has a completely different meaning:
a toto is a silly, slightly stupid person.

Appendix IV. La chanson de Craonne (The song of Craonne)

French Translation

Quand au bout d'huit jours, le r'pos terminé, When at the end of eight days, the rest finished
On va r'prendre les tranchées, We will go back to the trenches
Notre place est si utile Our place is so useful
Que sans nous on prend la pile. Without us you take a thrashing.
Mais c'est bien fini, on en a assez, But it's all over, we've had enough,
Personn' ne veut plus marcher, No one wants to walk anymore,

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Et le cœur bien gros, comm' dans un sanglot And a heavy heart, as in a sob
On dit adieu aux civ'lots. We say goodbye to the civil.
Même sans tambour, même sans trompette, Even without drum, even without trumpet,
On s'en va là haut en baissant la tête. We're going up there looking down.

Refrain: Chorus:
Adieu la vie, adieu l'amour, Farewell life, goodbye love,
Adieu toutes les femmes. Farewell all women.
C'est bien fini, c'est pour toujours, It is finished, forever
De cette guerre infâme. This infamous war.
C'est à Craonne, sur le plateau, It is in Craonne on the plateau,
Qu'on doit laisser sa peau That we must leave our skin
Car nous sommes tous condamnés Because we are all doomed
C'est nous les sacrifiés ! We are the scarified!

C'est malheureux d'voir sur les grands It is unfortunate to see on the main boulevards
boul'vards All these fat people doing their fair;
Tous ces gros qui font leur foire ; If for them life is pink
Si pour eux la vie est rose For us it is not the same thing.
Pour nous c'est pas la mêm' chose. Instead of hiding, all these dodgers
Au lieu de s'cacher, tous ces embusqués, Should better go to the trenches
F'raient mieux d'monter aux tranchées To defend their property, because we have
Pour défendr' leurs biens, car nous n'avons nothing,
rien, We the poor penniless.
Nous autr's, les pauvr's purotins. All comrades are buried there,
Tous les camarades sont enterrés là, To defend the goods of those gentlemen.
Pour défendr' les biens de ces messieurs-là.

Huit jours de tranchées, huit jours de
Eight days of trenches, eight days of suffering,
But we are in the hope that
Pourtant on a l'espérance
Tonight will come relief troops
Que ce soir viendra la r'lève
That we expect with no truce.
Que nous attendons sans trêve.
Suddenly in the night and in the silence,
Soudain, dans la nuit et dans le silence,
We see someone who advances
On voit quelqu'un qui s'avance,
He is an officer of hunter by foot,
C'est un officier de chasseurs à pied,
Who comes to replace us.
Qui vient pour nous remplacer.
Gently in the shadows, under the falling rain
Doucement dans l'ombre, sous la pluie qui
Small hunters will seek their graves.
Les petits chasseurs vont chercher leurs
Those who have the dough, those they'll come
Because it's for them that we die.
Ceux qu'ont l'pognon, ceux-là r'viendront,

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Car c'est pour eux qu'on crève. But it's over, because the squaddies
Mais c'est fini, car les trouffions Will all go on strike.
Vont tous se mettre en grève. It will be your turn, fat gentlemen,
Ce s'ra votre tour, messieurs les gros, To climb on the plateau,
De monter sur l'plateau, Because if you want war,
Car si vous voulez la guerre, Pay it off your skin!
Payez-la de votre peau !

Appendix V. Le cri du poilu (the hairy's cry)

French Translation

V´là plus d´une année It's been more than a year
Que dans les tranchées That in the trenches
Nos petits soldats, Our little soldiers
Loin de tout l´ monde, sont là-bas Far from all the world, are over there
Seuls dans la bataille Alone in the battle
Ils bravent la mitraille They braved the bullets
Ils n´ pensent plus à rien They don't think of anything
Qu´à tirer sur ces sales Prussiens except to shoot at these dirty Prussians
Mais quand ils sont au repos But when they are at rest
Et qu´ils n´ont plus d´ flingot And they no longer have their gunny
Couchés sur l´ dos Lying on their back

À nos poilus qui sont su´ l´ front To our hairy are at the Front
Qu´est-ce qu´il leur faut comme distraction? What do they need as a distraction?
Une femme, une femme! A woman, a woman!
Qu´est-ce qui leur ferait gentiment What would make them kindly
Passer un sacré bon moment? Spend a good time?
Une femme, une femme! A woman, a woman!
Au lieu d´ la sale gueule des Allemands Instead of the ugly face of the Germans
Ils aimerait bien mieux certainement They would much rather like
Une femme, une femme! A woman, a woman!
Cré bon sang! Qu´est-ce qu´y donneraient pas Oh hell! What would they not give
Pour t´nir un moment dans leurs bras To hold in their arms for a moment
Une femme, une femme! A woman, a woman!

Quand, en ribambelle, When in swarm,
Ils bouffent la gamelle They eat up their meals
C´est vite avalé It is quickly swallowed
En deux temps, ça n´a pas traîné In no time, it did not take long
Penchés sur la paille Lying on the straw
Allons-y, ils bâillent Come on, they yawn
Se f´sant, nous le tenons, Thinking to themselves,
Presque tous la même réflexion Almost all the same thought

Salomé Lepez Da Silva Duarte - CAID 12273375

Et dans ces moments-là And in those moments
À quoi pensent-ils tout bas? What do they think so low?
Ne cherchez pas! Do not search!

À nos poilus qui sont su´ l´ front To our hairy at the Front
Qu´est-ce qu´il leur faut comme distraction? What do they need as a distraction?
Une femme, une femme! A woman, a woman!
Quand ils ont bouffé leur rata When they ate their rata
Qu´est-ce qu´ils demandent comme second What they want as a second dish?
plat? A woman, a woman!
Une femme, une femme! Gosh, to calm their nerves
Sapristi, pour calmer leurs nerfs If it happened to them as dessert
S´il leur arrivait comme dessert A woman, a woman!
Une femme, une femme! Whether large or small, my faith
Qu´elle soit grande ou petite, ma foi It does not matter as long as it is
Ça fait rien pourvu que ce soit A woman, a woman!
Une femme, une femme!
When, in the trench,
Quand, dans la tranchée, They spend the day
Ils passent la journée By the the little slots
Par les p´tits créneaux They send the Boches prunes
Ils envoient aux Boches des pruneaux Then they rest
Puis ils se reposent Think a lot of things
Pensent à des tas d´ choses That make
Qui leur font, cré nom Them shiver
Passer dans tout l´ corps des frissons Before falling asleep
Avant de s´endormir They have a sigh
Ils ont dans un soupir The same desire
Le même désir
To our hairy at the Front
À nos poilus qui sont su´ l´ front What do they need as a distraction?
Qu´est-ce qu´il leur faut comme distraction? A woman, a woman!
Une femme, une femme! There are so much lovers there
Il y a tant d´amoureux là-bas They are really jewels for
Qui pourraient faire plaisir à A woman, a woman!
Une femme, une femme! At this point, it is essential
À ce moment, c´est l´essentiel She must fall from the sky
Il faudrait qu´il leur tombe du ciel A woman, a woman!
Une femme, une femme! And as evening prayer
Et comme prière du soir God 's God, do we then see
Bon Dieu d´ bon Dieu, fais-nous donc voir A woman, a woman!
Une femme, une femme!

Appendix VI. La Marseillaise, Rouget de Lisle, 1792

Salomé Lepez Da Silva Duarte - CAID 12273375

French Translation
Allons enfants de la Patrie Let's go children of the fatherland,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé ! The day of glory has arrived!
Contre nous de la tyrannie Against us tyranny's
L'étendard sanglant est levé Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
Entendez-vous dans nos campagnes In the countryside, do you hear
Mugir ces féroces soldats? The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras. They come right to our arms
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes! To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!

Refrain Chorus

Aux armes citoyens Grab your weapons, citizens
Formez vos bataillons Form your bataillions
Marchons, marchons Let us march, Let us march
Qu'un sang impur May impure blood
Abreuve nos sillons Water our fields

Que veut cette horde d'esclaves This horde of slaves, traitors, plotting kings,
De traîtres, de rois conjurés? What do they want?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves For whom these vile shackles,
Ces fers dès longtemps préparés? These long-prepared irons?
Français, pour nous, ah! quel outrage Frenchmen, for us, oh! what an insult!
Quels transports il doit exciter? What emotions that must excite!
C'est nous qu'on ose méditer It is us that they dare to consider
De rendre à l'antique esclavage! Returning to ancient slavery!

Quoi ces cohortes étrangères! What! These foreign troops
Feraient la loi dans nos foyers! Would make laws in our home!
Quoi! ces phalanges mercenaires What! These mercenary phalanxes
Terrasseraient nos fils guerriers! Would bring down our proud warriors!
Grand Dieu! par des mains enchaînées Good Lord! By chained hands
Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraient Our brows would bend beneath the yoke!
De vils despotes deviendraient Vile despots would become
Les maîtres des destinées. The masters of our fate.

Tremble, tyrants! And you, traitors,
Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides
The disgrace of all groups,
L'opprobre de tous les partis
Tremble! Your parricidal plans
Tremblez! vos projets parricides
Will finally pay the price!
Vont enfin recevoir leurs prix!
Everyone is a soldier to fight you,
Tout est soldat pour vous combattre
S'ils tombent, nos jeunes héros If they fall, our young heroes,
France will make more,
La France en produit de nouveaux,

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Contre vous tout prêts à se battre. Ready to battle you.

Français, en guerriers magnanimes Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,
Portez ou retenez vos coups! Bear or hold back your blows!
Épargnez ces tristes victimes Spare these sad victims,
À regret s'armant contre nous Regretfully arming against us.
Mais ces despotes sanguinaires But not these bloodthirsty despots,
Mais ces complices de Bouillé But not these accomplices of Bouillé,
Tous ces tigres qui, sans pitié All of these animals who, without pity,
Déchirent le sein de leur mère! Tear their mother's breast to pieces!

Sacred love of France,
Amour sacré de la Patrie
Lead, support our avenging arms!
Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs
Liberty, beloved Liberty,
Liberté, Liberté chérie
Fight with your defenders!
Combats avec tes défenseurs!
Under our flags, let victory
Sous nos drapeaux, que la victoire
Hasten to your manly tones!
Accoure à tes mâles accents
May your dying enemies
Que tes ennemis expirants
See your triumph and our glory!
Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire!
We will enter the pit
Nous entrerons dans la carrière When our elders are no longer there;
Quand nos aînés n'y seront plus There, we will find their dust
Nous y trouverons leur poussière And the traces of their virtues.
Et la trace de leurs vertus Much less eager to outlive them
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre Than to share their casket,
Que de partager leur cercueil We will have the sublime pride
Nous aurons le sublime orgueil Of avenging them or following them!
De les venger ou de les suivre!

Works cited


Salomé Lepez Da Silva Duarte - CAID 12273375

Wion, Pascal. 14-18, la victoire en chantant la Grande Guerre au travers des chansons de

l’époque. Paris: Imago, 2013. Print.

Ribouillault, Claude. La musique au fusil: avec les poilus de la Grande Guerre. Rodez

(France): Editions du Rouergue, 1996. Print.

Audoin-Rouzeau, Stéphane et al. La Grande Guerre des musiciens. Lyon: Symétrie, 2009.


Scotto, Vincent. Souvenirs de Paris. Toulouse: Editions S.T.A.E.L., 1947. Print.


Tronel, Jacky. “Henri Bourgund, Fusillé Pour L’exemple Sur Ordre de Pétain.” Histoire

pénitentiaire et Justice militaire. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2014.

Fanen, Sophian. “Les tranchées, berceau musical.” 6 June 2014. Web.

24 Aug. 2014.

Heer, Hannes, and Klaus Naumann. War of Extermination: The German Military in World

War II, 1941-1944. New York: Berghahn Books, 1999. Print.


Dicale, Bertrand. “Tricotez, fillettes de France...” La fleur au fusil : 14-18 en chanson - été

2014. France info, July 2014. Television.

Salomé Lepez Da Silva Duarte - CAID 12273375


Dubé, Paul, and Jacques Marchioro. “ La chanson française de 1870 à 1945.” Du Temps des

cerises aux Feuilles mortes. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 June 2014.

Carrez, Maurice. “CRID 14-18 - Site du Collectif de Recherche et de Débat International sur

la guerre de 1914-1918.” N.p., n.d. Web. 12 June 2014.

“Histoire de France En Chansons.” N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2014.

Salomé Lepez Da Silva Duarte - CAID 12273375

Italian pipers

Voted July 19th, 1913, the law adds 1 year of military service (3 years instead of 2) for all young men.

(literally “sacred union”) Political truce introduced by Raymond Poincaré on August 4 th 1914 in the Chamber

of Deputies to unite all political groups in preparation for the war.

“Plus de partis, plus de clans politiques, sous le drapeau, nous sommes tous français” (Wion)

“La Liberté nous appelle [...] s’il faut mourir pour Elle, allons mourir jusqu’au dernier.” (Wion)

Literally « Alas ! What pain » ; folkloric song about the pain of a loss.

In French, adding « issime » to a word is a great, familiar superlative.

Literally « I’m stupid »

Being an ancient Gallic oppidum and considered as a major pivot in wars such as the 1870 Prussian war, the

city always had an importance in the cultural heritage and national military pride.

≏116 bpm versus the usual 120

« Les ciseaux d’Anastasie », nickname given to censorship at the time. (Wion)

(Literally “behind”) the civil population, the ones who aren’t at the “Front”, in front of the lines.

Poilu is the nickname given to WW1 soldiers in France : the bad living condition in the trenches didn't allow

them to shave often and therefore they came back home "hairy" or poilus.

Au Bois de Boulogne is a joyful song

Piperonyl is a pesticide from the flower Pyrethrin that is still used today as an insecticide. Soldiers of the First

World War used it as a powder in order to fight against lice. (Wion)

purotin is difficult to translate in English, and isn't used anymore in modern French. It is said informally of

someone that is in usually financial difficulty, in misery.

152 449.02 €

Salomé Lepez Da Silva Duarte - CAID 12273375

“I hope they’re holding on ! – who ? – The civilians.” (Wion)

“un matin de 1916, songeant à notre immense front, plein d'hommes sans femmes, je me dis : ‘Si une petite

femme arrivait là, quelle joie pour ces braves poilus !’ L'idée me vint aussitôt de faire une chanson” (Scotto)

Lazare Ponticelli, the last French Poilu died aged 110 on March 12, 2008 at Kremlin-Bicêtre (Val-de-Marne).

(“Première Guerre Mondiale”)