The Western Rangers (MacEdward Leach)

Come all ye western rangers,
Bound to some foreign land,
Come kindly pay attention,
As you may understand;
I am bound away from a friend so dear,
To fight on some foreign land,
Where those Indians they will have me
Never to return again.

My girl, being young and innocent,
Grew up nearby my side,
Saying, "Stay on shore, dear Willie,
And I will be your bride."
I wiped those rolling tears that fell
From her lovely dark blue eyes,
But my mind being bent on roving
And true love it never dies.

I had been the age of twenty,
When I joined this bugle band,
I sailed from bonny Scotland
Unto some foreign land;
I shortly sailed for Flanders,
I arrived there safe one night,
When our captain he gave orders
To get ready for to fight.

You could see those Indians coming,
You could hear them give their yell,
One glimmering glance of bayonet
No human tangle could tell;
One glimmering glance of bayonet
Came whistling from the west,
They lay bleeding there next morning
With their death wound on their breath.

I thought on my aged old mother,
Those words to me did say:
"If you don't care for roaming, lad,
With me you better stay."
I thought on her old and her childish ways,
But right I did not know,
For my mind being bent on roaming
And away from her did go.

I have done the fruits of roving,
I have learnt it all quite well,
I ploughed the fields of Flanders
Where many a brave man fell;
I also fought in where
German crowds were killed,
And with medals now I will return
To the girl I love so well.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a traditional First World War ballad ....####

Collected in 1951 from F Leonard (Leo) Molloy [1903-1989] of St Shott's NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada, ©2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

GEST notes that the role of Indians in this First World War ballad appears to have gotten confused with a Civil War ballad and native American Indians (The Texas Rangers).

A variant was collected in 1978 as The Western Ranger in Placentia Bay, NL, by Eric West and deposited in the Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) accession number 78-236.

From Wikipedia
Indian Army During World War I - contributed a large number of divisions and independent brigades to the European, Mediterranean and the Middle East theatres of war in World War I. Over one million Indian troops served overseas, of whom 62,000 died and another 67,000 were wounded. In total at least 74,187 Indian soldiers died during the war.

In World War I the Indian Army fought against the German Empire in German East Africa and on the Western Front. Indian divisions were also sent to Egypt, Gallipoli and nearly 700,000 served in Mesopotamia against the Ottoman Empire. While some divisions were sent overseas others had to stay in India guarding the North West Frontier and on internal security and training duties.


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